hard!!

I Ain't Got No College Degree

Finding a new job is hard for just about everyone. Unless you’re the guy who is being hounded by offers, I guess. I’m not sure who that guy is, but I know it happens. For me, finding a job entails lots of searching and networking and hustling. And also looking up in the thesaurus the difference between ‘excel’ and ‘proficient’ because good god that could mean a 5K difference in salary or an office with a view or one with just paper clips. It involves lots of sleepless nights and stomachaches while I remind myself how much I don’t qualify for anything and go down the list of If Only They Knew. And I’ve landed a few really great positions with excellent companies full of people that I hated leaving and wished I could work with forever. I know I did a great job working for/with them and I have a quiver of recommendation letters and references to prove it. But moving to be closer to my kids and being ill for a few months over a year ago necessitated changes in employment. I’ve tried to roll with the punches and embrace what’s next.

Recently, as I shined up the ol’ resume for a new go at things, I answered an ad which stated it required a 4-year degree. This is not new. I’ve done it many times before. I have no 4-year degree but, in past years, I’ve thought nothing of including in my cover letter something to the effect of, ‘You indicated a requirement of a 4-year degree. I have [X]# of years of experience and [X]# of references I could send to you by way of indicating my qualifications for this position in lieu of said degree blah blah blah.” To which I’ve never received a negative response. Until now.

Yes, quite possibly I’ve received no negative response because 9 out of 10 times, my resume went straight into the shredder. Or the recycling bin, as it were, since I was considered unqualified. And I’ve been OK with knowing that could be true. I’ve always held some sense of Universal Timing and felt in my bones that the right companies would still find me attractive and I would land the position I was meant to have when the time was right.

But never did I consider that I might be angering people on the other side. I didn’t feel that having to read through the first three lines of my cover letter would waste so much of the reader’s time as to do some type of permanent damage to their retina, as this last enraged reply implied.

Ms. Peterson,

You have no idea how insulting it is to receive you application for [this really awesome position] with [this slightly less attractive company] this afternoon. Our description said in very certain terms that we are looking for someone WITH a COLLEGE DEGREE. You DO NOT have a COLLEGE DEGREE. Perhaps if you had a COLLEGE DEGREE, you would not have wasted the very valuable time it has taken me to read your application LACKING a COLLEGE DEGREE and respond to you with this email. (Ed. – to be fair, I didn’t ask her to reply is she was going to be an asshole, just if she was interested in speaking with me. So I’m not sure that last part was accurate. But what do I know? I don’t have a COLLEGE DEGREE.) In the future, may I suggest you do not blunder in this way again and refrain from replying to job positions that explicitly require a COLLEGE DEGREE. A good way to smarten up – GO TO COLLEGE.

Very, very sincerely,
[Redacted] [Extremely less attractive company at this point]

And so, my friends, I’m smarting a little from embarrassment. I’d like a college degree, sure. But I don’t see me finishing 2 years of remaining school in the next couple of weeks. And I’m more than slightly worried about sending out more cover letters with the same information I’ve been sending out that so ticked off this woman with so little time, except just enough, to write me a stinging email. I do not want to burn bridges or get a poor reputation. I feel, in a word, stuck.

Will write stupid poetry as payment for constructive advice and helpful feedback.

Less Time Thinking and More Time Doing

I want to do something and I want to do it well. I need something, anything, to fill this hole in my heart a mile wide.

Excuse me while I wax slightly melodramatic. I’ve spent years of my life with one purpose, my only purpose, a sole purpose, to now find that it’s not needed in the slightest. I am, in fact, unnecessary. Can you imagine? Spending years of your life believing one thing and working towards something with every fiber of your being in every way that you possibly could? To believe something as a solid truth only to find out that you were completely wrong?

I’m crushed. I’m saddened beyond belief. I do not, in fact, even know the words to express my pain. I’m screaming with my hand over my mouth. If only you could hear me! If you were in my head you’d know. You’d feel the reverberations so deep, your bone marrow would vibrate. The tune hasn’t been written, but only touched upon by the dark and soulfullest strains of the blues song you’ve never heard, barely skimming with its tawny, skinny finger along your cheek.

Ah, yes, you think. There she goes again. Going on about the kids and her feelings and the dreadful inadequacy of it all. Believe me when I tell you this is different. At least for me it is. For you, you could be entirely correct. If that is the case, feel free to spend your time accordingly and move on to the next reading spot of your choice.

My husband is going through one of the hardest moments of his life thus far. I support him and love him the same as always and even more because of his deep sadness and fear. He keeps his feelings reigned in, on my behalf, I suppose. He cries by himself, afraid that I’ll come apart at the seams if he isn’t strong and all put together. It hurts me. Oh, how it hurts me to hold him and have him keep his sobs silently inside, with only his shoulders heaving slightly, a smile on his face when we pull away and barely a tear in his eye. Careful not to get any of his sadness on his wife whom he thinks couldn’t handle it. He didn’t ask me if I could take a little of it for him, rest it on my back like a mantle for a bit and give him reprieve. He doesn’t dare. He knows what he knows and he has his tight-knit family for the sad-sharing. They know each other. They take care of each other. I’m glad they do. I’m glad he isn’t worried about how I feel. All their energies have much more important things to do at this moment and I support that 100%. Even more, if it were possible. Even more, if he would let me in. In the meantime, I’ll have to do with the cursory reports of progress.

There is a natural and opposite reaction to every action. The counterpoint for his is mine, namely, my kids. But, really, who’s to say which came first? Perhaps I met him like this. As much as he won’t allow me into his family, I don’t allow him into mine. He can forge relationships with all of the children that will let them, which by my estimation is roughly 2.75 of them collectively. I can try to nurture his attempts but on the outset, it’s his journey, as I have remained a neutral party for my children’s benefit. I’ve been a safe harbor for them to come to at any moment, including a disagreement or confusion with him. And I’ve repeatedly told myself that this was oh-so-very necessary. A duty of love from their mother. My never-ending job, to be there always and unfailingly for them, my beautiful offspring. First and foremost, failing nothing.

So odd when your perception shifts. You’re looking through the lens in one direction and then suddenly you’re off balance and falling to the floor on one ear. The way you’ve seen things suddenly turned 90 degrees and the first thought to your head is – Of course! Why haven’t I seen things this way the whole time? Why didn’t I know this – this – thing? Why? Am I daft?

My children don’t need me. They don’t need me in the way I’ve been projecting for ages to myself and to the world. In fact, they have a mother and a fine one at that. My ex and his wife are entirely the perfect parents. It could be completely true that I need them far more than the other way round. Because without them, who am I? But, without me? They are still themselves in a complete family unit lacking nothing. I, on the other hand, am only part of a half of a relationship where deep feelings are kept to the person who feels them. I can’t say a solid half because no one sees me that way, let alone myself. So, only a part I remain.

I’ve been so stubborn and self-centered. I haven’t listened when they’ve tried to tell me. They are happy the way things are! I’ve been supposing that I had things to offer, things that could be had no where else but I was deluding myself. One of them was finally brave enough to tell me how they all felt.

Oh, the planning I’ve taken. The silly and thorough planning. Working the entire day around one of them popping in for less than five minutes. The miles I’ve traversed to see an hour of a football game or pass off a book left behind. All because I thought in some way I was important in their lives. Well, to be fair, I am important as much as a beloved aunt or friend of the family can be. Just not in the way I thought I was: a Mother.

I think of my attempts at being their mom as so sad. I’m embarrassed. How awkward for them, to have to pretend I was doing somewhat of a good job at it. There were clues along the way. Their reluctance at putting personal items in their rooms here. Their indifference at whether I’m in attendance at a school or sports activity. I thought it might be a way of protecting their feelings. But I was wrong. It was the reality of the situation I was afraid to look at. And now, the Universe has cracked a bit and the sound is hurting my head.

Do I sound bitter? I suppose I am. But not at them. Really, they’ve done the best they could with what they had. When you go through years of hearing that someone is a mental case, it’s hard to see them as anything but. They’ve managed to become a family with close ties to their father and their step-mom, which is so much better for them than the opposite. I suppose I’m just nursing my wounds at being on the outside again and wishing I were on the inside for once with my kids. A family where I’m the mom and they are my children.

At some point I’ll have to figure out what’s next. What is the next step? Certainly less time thinking and more time doing is the order of the day. I want to do something and I want to do it well. I need something, anything, to fill this hole in my heart a mile wide.

The Crushing

“Seven years, Mom! Seven Years! You just haven’t been around. I can’t count on you! I like things the way they are! You can’t just expect me to change at the drop of a hat!”

“Wait a minute. Seven years? How do you get that number? Your dad and I divorced in 2002 while I was in a MENTAL HOSPITAL! I was out of state a total of eight months! And your dad is the one that moved you to a place that I couldn’t afford to live and where I knew no one and couldn’t find a job. Yes, it took me a couple of years to move here. But that doesn’t equal seven years. I don’t think you’re being fair!”

“It doesn’t matter! It doesn’t matter if it was Dad’s fault or your fault. I don’t care if the reason is because he told you not to come and live here or you couldn’t find a job! The end result is that you haven’t been around! So, don’t just all of a sudden decide to change everything around! You call that stability?”

“All I’m asking for is for you to stay over an equal amount of nights during the summer. If it doesn’t work out, then when school starts again, we’ll change it back. That isn’t unstable! That’s an opportunity!”

“I don’t want things to change! I like it how it is! I stay mostly with my dad. He’s the one that makes sure we have cars and money and whatever else we need. You’re my mommy! You’re my best friend. I tell you everything and I know you’ll just love me and accept me. I don’t want you to start telling me what I can and can’t do! I don’t need another mom. I already have one! I want you to stay my best friend.”

“Your best friend that never gets to be your mom because you don’t want me to be that for you? You know, we have cars. We have your room upstairs. We have food and everything your dad has. For the past few years I’ve lived close enough to be a real mom to you but you haven’t let me. From the minute I got out of the hospital, my whole life has been about getting to this place! This spot! Living close enough to you to really be a mom to you. You have no idea what I’ve gone through to get here! And now, just like that, you tell me you don’t want what I have to offer?”

“I do want what you have to offer. I just want you to be my best friend like you have been. Don’t change anything. Please! What difference does it make?”

“You know, while we lived 12 miles away, I could kind of understand because it took about 15 minutes to drive from house to house. But now, we’re just a few blocks away. And it’s like it hasn’t changed anything. It doesn’t matter how close I live, does it? Now I get it. The real truth is that you just don’t want me to be your mom. I never would have guessed that. I was so focused on getting to do all the mom stuff like fixing you breakfast and helping you with your homework and doing your laundry. You know, taking care of you.”

“Mom, no. I want you to be my mommy. The way it’s always been. Just be that. Don’t change anything. Please.”

The Flip Side

Dude. Where is the flip side, people? I could use some good news.

First of all, Schmutzie has long been one of my web favorites. When I was scouring the internet looking for people to interview, I found her and then hung on because wow, she’s original and compelling and real and funny. And a little wacky. And super smart. Put all together, you get the inimitable Schmutzie, whom I love with abandon that would probably scare the cat. I don’t want her to have cancer but just so you know, what I want means nothing. If it would help I might even consider becoming Mormon again. That is how much I love her.

Then you have Susan’s mom, Ginny, whom I never met in person but got to know so well through Susan’s Flickr. Susan showed the good, bad, ugly and the beautiful through her images and captions. Sometimes, all you could do was read and cry, which would turn into laughter at some point because Ginny was such a wild card. Taking care of an aging parent who has lost their ability to be a part of their own care-giving is an enormous drain and continuing learning experience for the people around them. But, besides all that, it’s also just what we do for those we love when the Universe presents us with that opportunity. I hope someday Susan writes a book about the experience. I’m sure many people would benefit and would love to read it. I got to meet Susan’s brother and sister and friend last weekend for lunch. It was right after Ginny had died and I wasn’t sure what to expect. The only way to summarize the experience is to quote my son as we walked out of Seaport Village – “I was worried it might be awkward, but mom, they were great. I hope when I get to be their age I’m fun and vibrant even when things about your life are hard.’

I got sick towards the end of Mother’s Day, barely sitting through dinner before beginning the puke-fest, and unfortunately couldn’t make it to Ginny’s Funeral Party on Monday in San Diego. From what I hear, it was really awesome.

That brings us to Suebob. I read her blog but don’t comment often. Pretty much what I do everywhere on the internet. Suebob’s sister had pneumonia and then just kept declining. Every day I’d go and hope to read how she might be getting better and pulling out of it. But that wasn’t what happened. Having a few sisters of my own, I can only imagine how awful it is to lose one, leaving behind children and a husband. I can’t think about it for too long.

And now for JPGMag. I LOVE JPG. Love. Love the idea of it. Love the creators of it. Loved working with them, editing for them, interviewing for them and even submitting photos, none of said photos were ever selected, but it didn’t matter. There was always next time. There was always the thought in the back of my mind that if I just kept shooting, learning, taking the opportunity to find interesting things to photograph, my photo might get selected next time. It wasn’t impossible because look at all the evidence! Other amateurs were getting their photos published every issue. The community was a living breathing thing and it was fun to be a part of it.

As a person that comes up with ideas myself, a cultivator, if you will, I’m always interested to get to know others of my species. The people that think it is a good idea to throw the next few years of their life into something because it makes them happy and probably not much money at first. The people that get excited about doing something right, even if it takes longer. The people that bring the people they know along with them because they like to feel like a family. That surround themselves with other passionate people because it feels good. That care about the end product or experience being solid and quality. That want to involve the community in new, interactive ways and explore how things can grow. These are my people.

All the time I was a part of any part of JPG magazine thus far, I have very much appreciated. I will no longer be submitting any images to JPG. I will no longer be interviewing or submitting stories. Because if it was such an easy thing to erase two of the core founders and their contributions, how can my little contributions have any chance of longevity at all? If I can’t trust that my submissions and contributions will be treated with respect, I don’t want to play anymore. To pretend that the first 6 issues of JPG don’t exist is to say that all the people in the community that participated had no value. What a shame. I kept my account open because I wanted my small voice to be heard there. Heather’s words. Derek’s words.

What I wrote over at the JPG site:

I almost deleted my account last Sunday when I got an email from Derek explaining what had happened. I’m still so shocked that someone’s labor of love can be ripped away from them in this way. Instead of deleting, however, I decided to publicly say how wrong I feel it is. I will no longer be contributing to JPG.

The roots of something should never be forgotten, changed, erased or buried. The end result, which is then basically a lie, will never be as strong, genuine or connected to.

End of story.

For Mother’s Day I got a new Feist CD, some beautiful picture frames, a balloon, a dinner out and a baby boy cockatiel, who currently has no name.

Happy Mother's Day 07

But mostly, I got to spend lots of time with the people that I love and that love me. At one point, after dinner on the drive home, I realized I wasn’t really feeling any of it. I wasn’t feeling. I could have cried if I’d only had the feelings to do so. Instead, I just looked out the window at the lights.

Update: And now Eden’s dad?? Are you kidding me, Universe? XO, Eden. Lots of them.

Emotions

I’m slowly losing it. I feel isolated, worthless, sad and confused. Since I am surrounded, now more than ever, by people that love me, it would seem to be out of place. Logically I know that. And I’m so tired of this train of thought I could throw up.

The mind is such an odd thing. I can tell my mind what it should be doing and tell my body how I should be feeling and it makes no difference. No difference at all.

I feel like no one cares about me and then I see my mom’s number come up on my cell phone three times in five hours but I don’t answer. I burst into tears just looking at her name on the display and I don’t want to scare her with my completely random weeping so I wait a few hours until I can manage a Hello and a How are you and mostly the Things are fine without tears. And then my son calls, asking me to make some adjustments to his suit. It would be so easy to ask him to come over and spend some time with me as I measure and sew. But, I don’t. I cry quietly to myself and tell him it’s fine to just drop the suit off in the morning on the way to school. Because by this time, after the better part of two days, I’m in no condition to see any of my kids, with my red eyes and puffy face and never-ending tears, especially the child that needs stability more than the others. If there is one thing I’m not exuding, it’s stability.

I look around the house and remark to myself how little I’ve accomplished in the past two days. Joe likes to say it’s because I’m being more of a mom, running more errands with them, giving them rides here and there and generally being more available, while wearing dark sunglasses. But in my heart I know that the reason the office is still entirely in boxes and the closet upstairs has shelves completely empty after a week is because I can’t manage to do much more than look around me and cry.

This week, the one thing I will do, is see the doctor about my thyroid dose. If that isn’t the issue, I may seriously need a trip to Hawaii or Australia. However, I hear that no matter where you go, there you are. So that wouldn’t solve anything.

The Bigger Question Is

How do we springboard all the righteous indignation, sadness and awareness that has quite rightly resulted from the Virginia Tech incident and zap America into action against longstanding horrific events that have been occurring around our globe for years?

Four Conversations

“Why did he do it, Mom? My teacher at school said it might be because the kids at school were mean to him so he got them back.”

“Maybe. I don’t think I like that line of thought because it somehow justifies what he did. Like, if you are mean to me, I’m going to kill you and that’s just the way it is.”

“Ya, I didn’t think it sounded right, either. You don’t pull out your Tommy gun just because someone called you stupid. But, if I did call someone a name, do you think they would get mad enough to shoot people at school?”

I want to tell him no. No way. Kids aren’t going to bring a gun to school and shoot you or someone else. That kid you were mean to last year won’t come back this year and plot how to do it. That’s ridiculous! Don’t worry about that at all. Kids are sometimes mean and say things they regret. Tell him you’re sorry and be nice from now on. Just worry about learning where all the states are and remembering the history of the Civil War for your test on Thursday. Spend your in-between class time walking to the next building and giving everyone a high-five. Throw your backpack over your shoulder (don’t squish your fruit snack!) and make the most pressing thing on your mind whether that girl that sits two seats to the right of you in math class thinks you’re cute and spend lunch talking about the band you and your friends are putting together. Middle school is hard enough without worrying about if you might actually die or not. Instead, I say, “I hope not. I’d miss your freckles.” And then I sock him in the arm. He laughs and turns up the radio.

“Did you hear about those shootings, Mom? Some crazy kid at college went around and shot a bunch of people. Like, a bunch! My friend said they think he was insane or something. It’s so sad.”

“It is so sad. I’ve been sad about it all day. Did they talk about it in school?”

“Only for a sec. We had to finish getting ready for testing next week. But everyone was freaked out about it at lunch. I mean, how do you know that isn’t going to happen at our school? How can you tell if someone is about to go totally insane and start shooting people?”

“Well, I think that is the problem. You can’t. You just have to keep going through your day, doing your best, treating people with respect and hope that if someone was showing signs of being about to hurt people like that, that you would notice and get out of there. But probably, you wouldn’t notice unless they were actually holding a gun up. I wish I could tell you something more reassuring because I don’t think living every day being afraid is going to be the recipe for a happy life.”

After a long pause: “Someone like that wouldn’t be in my group of friends. Everyone that I hang out with is stable, I think. At least, too stable to take a gun to school and shoot people.” After another long pause: “I hope.”

“Mom, some dude shot a bunch of kids.”

“I know. I heard about it all afternoon on TV.”

“It just – it just – makes no sense, you know? Because if you are mad at someone? And you want to hurt them? Why kill them? You’d want to do something like ruin their reputation and make them live with it, you know? If you kill them, they are just dead. And if you kill yourself, you aren’t even around to see what happens. It makes no sense!”

“So, if you were really mad at someone, you’d just ruin their school life and make everyone hate them so they have a terrible schooling experience?”

“Right. I mean, that is really revenge, you know?”

“Do you have any theories about what might happen to a person who enjoys getting revenge like that? Any thoughts as to what the rest of their life looks like or feels like carrying around the responsibility of knowing they ruined someone’s entire year or most likely, years?”

“Well, no. I mean, I wouldn’t do it. But, there was this guy in 3rd grade that was mad at me because I did something that pissed him off and I don’t even remember what it is but he was so mad that he got all the other kids in our class to hate me and for the entire last half of the year, no one in my class would sit by me at lunch or be my partner for stuff. I hated it. And I wondered what it would be like to get him back.”

“What happened the next year? Was he still mean?”

“Actually, he’s kind of my friend now. We played football together a few years ago and now, I mean, he’s ok.”

“Do you still think about getting him back.”

“No. Sometimes. No.”

“Do you think stuff like that happens for a reason? If you believe in God, then don’t you have to believe that it happened for some reason?”

“I believe in a Higher Power. I do not believe that said Higher Power would condone what happened or want it to happen so that some good could come out of it.”

“But, some good could come out of it.”

“I’m fairly positive that some good will come out of it. Usually, some good comes out of tragedy. Most of the time it is quiet bits of good. Internal good. It hopefully changes one to be a softer, better person that watches out for others with compassion. But saying that those quiet bits of good were so necessary as to require a tragedy like this one is misguided, I think.”

“Maybe we can only learn to be compassionate after we experience a tragedy.”

“Let’s just go with your theory for a minute. What do you think happened to this kid at the college that shot everyone? What do you think happened in his life to make it seem like a good idea to do what he did? Did the preceding year of his life contain good and nurturing things, great experiences? And then suddenly, one day he woke up and thought that shooting up the school sounded good? Or was it a terrible year for him? A year full of tragedy and hurt of some sort? And if so, why didn’t it turn him into a more compassionate person? Why didn’t it turn him into someone that could never hurt someone else?”

“Good questions. I can see what you are saying. I guess I just want to make it make sense because if it doesn’t, then I don’t know how to think about it. But what you are saying means that there isn’t really a formula like I want.”

“Life experience definitely helps mold us into who we are. But every person has within them the ability to be nurturing and ‘good’ or harmful and ‘bad.’ Sometimes people learn to be bitter and angry, instead of loving and compassionate. I wish there was some way to come up with a formula that would work across the board. I think religion does that for some people.”

“Which is what I was saying. Then you can say there was a reason for it and feel safe again, like, right then, instead of having fear on your back for a long time. I think I need to come up with some kind of belief system so I can have that. What’s yours?”

“My belief is that everyone should try to live their life in a way that is centered in Love and that makes them feel Happy and that causes the least amount of pain and hurt to others and themselves because everyone is just as important as everyone else.”

“Ya. That sounds like you. Mine might be something like that but I’d throw in ‘except when I’m hungry, and then I’m more important that everyone else. Bring me some bread!”

Favorite Places (Not)

The dentist is rarely a person’s favorite place to go so it’s not a shock that it lands squarely in my bottom 5, in between being in the bathroom when someone else is pooping and spending an eternity at the DMV. My really fun trick-tooth, which I take off for party games and to scare small children, is finally gone and in its place is a beautiful and nearly indestructible crown, slightly off-white to match the others in my mouth and is one of the most expensive cubic bits of calcium composite ever known to man. I could have bought a small, used economical car or fed a family of 6 in a 3rd world country for a year but instead, I can chew.

This trip to the dentist was the strangest since I was in 2nd grade and experienced grape-flavored laughing gas for the first time. That visit, wearing my green corduroyed pants and plaid shirt with pointed, pocket flaps tipped in metal, I was totally unprepared for the disorientation of having pain but not caring in the least and thinking that the old dentist’s breath was extraordinarily pungent but thinking the whole thing was funnier than Scooby Doo. When I got home I sniffed everything in the house wondering what hidden products might have a similar effect. Turns out – nothing works like laughing gas except for laughing gas but taking a hard sniff of Ajax powdered cleanser will give your sinuses a burn that will last until well after your next birthday and most likely make you dumber.

I’m aware of my teeth sensitivity. It’s been well documented. Everything hurts my teeth including, oh, air and room temperature water. So, little nubs of teeth that have been worn down to accept crowns and have exposed nerves are prone to make me wriggle in my chair unless I’ve been properly medicated or bashed over the head with a mallet. The dentist emptied a full vial of numbing agent into my jaw under my tooth nub. He poked the needle here and there, pushing fluid in and making involuntary tears come to my eyes until it was completely empty. Then, he left. 15 minutes later, he came back and asked me how I was doing. I told him it hadn’t taken effect yet. He nodded and left for another 15 minutes. This time when he came back and I told him nothing was numb, he looked at me as if I was a teen caught stealing a beer and then lying about it. He poked my cheek with his finger and said, ‘Here? Here?’ and I told him the truth – nothing was numb. So he got a second vial, popped it into the needle press and said, ‘Well, maybe you just need a little more to help it kick in.’ He did that two more times until an hour and a half had passed and that vial was empty and my tongue was numb, my neck felt numb but my teeth and lip and cheek? Nope. Nice and awake. And then he got impatient and decided to just go ahead and place the crown anyway. He took that crown off and on about 25 times to make sure it fit correctly. I tried to keep my mouth open but sometimes, dude, that sucker HURT and I would kind of close my mouth or jerk away. I knew he was getting irritated but there was nothing I could do. When he was finally done, my jaw ached a deep, dark ache that only comes after childbirth. Ok, maybe not that bad but pretty, super bad! In fact, it still aches. And I’m ornery. And my tongue is still numb.

Unless you have laughing gas, you’d best keep your distance until tomorrow.

At the Zoo

People keep coming in the house, looking this way and that way, checking out the dining room where fifteen miscellaneous projects are arranged carefully, clockwise, around the table. They walk towards the backyard, sniffing over the dishtowel, crumpled, next to the coffee mug from this morning and the plate half slick with remaining egg yolk and toast crumbs. They scan the walls, the floors, judging the painting hanging slightly too far to the right and the pile of magazines, about 25 high, next to the stack of books, even higher, on the coffee table. There’s a corner of clothes waiting to be folded on the couch. Some balls of yarn on the floor by the basket. And the kitchen carpet, the blue one of respectable size and pile, is in the washer. They will never know that I am a person that has that kitchen carpet. They will forever believe I am a kitchen carpetless heathen with toes touching the cold linoleum at 2am while making toast.

They imagine their table where mine is. Their living room set where mine is. Their beds, linens, bathroom items including shaped soaps that look like seashells and stars, where my homemade candles sit in their small clay plant reservoir, just the perfect size for three laid in a triangle.

They come back downstairs, moving as a herd, the mom who judged the way my bed was (not) made, the dad who thinks the two plungers in the garage are a sure sign that the plumbing must be bad, their pre-teen girl chewing gum (she probably touched Alex’s jewelry on the table by her bed and smelled her perfume in the bathroom), their 5-year-old boy holding the railing, trailing his fingers on the side (they probably have something sticky on them from breakfast, like grape jelly or syrup and I bet he picked his nose and left a disgusting booger on the railing about half way down) and the toddler girl, too cute for words but she stole one of my kitchen magnets and put it in her pocket. If confronted, her mom will probably call me a liar and send her co-worker’s son, who belongs to a bad group of kids, over to steal our TVs when we’re out. I don’t really care about the magnet. It’s one of the butterfly ones that say cliché things like ‘Love is in your heart!‘ and ‘Today is the First Day..‘ blah blah blah. I imagine her finding it two days from now, cleaning out the pockets for the wash, and immediately feeling embarrassed. Her face will turn red and she’ll wonder if I know. I know.

And they are just one group of many. We are the attraction in the zoo, sitting on the couch and pretending to not notice them as the landlord takes them around and shows them the many benefits to this lovely home like the dog run sans dog, the spacious Great Rooms with dual fireplaces and the automatic sprinkling system. Doritos commercials have never been so captivating.

Mostly, I don’t stay around when the people come out on their excursion. Mostly, I go to the market or the book store and waste an hour looking at more books to add to the Haven’t Read Yet pile or stay in isle 4 reading the backs of cereal boxes. Honey Nut Cheerios are not a good read. And I can’t wait to be in our new home, away from these people looking at our old one, where we don’t really live anymore. So I guess I better get out there and look through more homes. But only empty ones.

Why I'm Crying (updated)

I shot a wedding a few weeks back.
My computer only holds so many photos before going tits up.
I routinely load the photos by the 100 to disks and then erase them from my computer. (can you see where this is going?)
I went to Kinkos to make a banner for the bride and groom of the moment right after ‘I Do!’
The disk I used? I lost there.
I left it. Or they didn’t give it back. Or they gave me the wrong one. Or something.
I called and they have never heard of the word disk.
The 100 photos from the walk down the isle to the I Do moment? Gone.
What is the word I am looking for?
I don’t even know the word to say how I feel.
Loser is so inadequate.

UPDATE: Thanks Daily Piglet and Michelle. I tried both and neither one could find the images. I am afraid I have used the flash card way too many times since the wedding. I take a lot of photos. But I do appreciate the help. If there is some heavy-duty application that works on a pc hard drive after a defrag, that might work but I can’t find one.

ABCs

Oh, I’m learning so much. For one thing, when you go in to get your blood drawn, make sure that the person that is about to remove 5 vials is an expert blood retriever and not someone new. I am not a good practice person with lots of available blood just teeming to the surface. I am a person with very hidden veins that are deep and roll within my arms. This rolling and deepness is something I’ve known for years. I tell people this on the onset and warn them that I’ve broken perfect stick records before and so don’t feel bad if you don’t get it right the first time. I think the record number of sticks is 8 before switching arms. Yes, that was a beautiful bruise. What I didn’t know, was that if someone says to a fellow lab tech, ‘Hey – you should do this one.’ that they are really speaking in code for ‘This lady has really deep and rolling veins. You should use her arm for a practice dart board.’ I assumed, and that was my problem, that they were getting someone MORE experienced than them to save me pain and green bruising. Sadly, no.

I have an ultrasound next week to check my neck for nodules attached to and near my thyroid. Super fun. My throat has been sore for so long I can’t even remember when it started. And it’s larger than it should be. And bonus, I get a pap smear on Tuesday. You can’t have more fun than that. That appointment is with the nice lady. You know, the one that yelled at me? Looking forward to it. But, I am going to take all y’alls advice and write a list before I go in along with an excel sheet I started that has my blood results from a year ago and little boxes to write the new ones and the next ones and the next ones. I love shit like that. It makes me feel organized. And if she is mean again? I’m going to find a new doctor. But I’m probably getting referred to an endocrinologist anyway, so I don’t know if I’ll need to.

Finding people that have walked this walk is kind of a quest right now. In every situation I go into, the more information I can find out about it before hand, the better. It’s how I find safety and peace. One of my best friends from childhood had cancer in her thyroid and had it removed two years ago. I called her and it was fun catching up, but it was really great to hear how she manages her care. She’s the head coach for a Colorado college girl’s basketball team, so she’s got to keep her energy up. Knowing she’s made it work gives me hope.

I also called all my siblings and my parents. All 9 of them. And jotted down everyone’s medical history as it pertains to me. It was pretty enlightening to find out that all 4 of my sisters have thyroid issues but only one is on medication because her levels were the only ones that finally went out of the ‘normal’ range. The one sister that does take meds takes Armour instead of the synthetic one because osteoporosis runs in my family and the synthetic hormone is supposed to increase your bone loss quite a bit.* My sister that is 44 has the bone density of an 80 year old women, if that gives you an idea. My mom was at one point diagnosed with Grave’s disease, but she rejected it because she thought she could get well by eating right. And one brother has Chronic Fatigue, which in my opinion is really just a thyroid issue. So, there you go.

On the net, I’ve really enjoyed reading both Queen of Spain and Radioactive Girl. Also, Jonniker has been quite enlightening. And all of you that have taken time to comment or email me support, THANK YOU so much. I’ve slept a lot and cried a lot but I do feel your support and it’s made it a bit easier. I’m really struck by how much the physical has effected the mental in my body. It’s something I’m slowly getting to understand and I think I might have some research and a book in me about it.

I’ve read a few books over the past few days and would recommend What Your Doctor May Not Tell You About Hypothyroidism by Ken Blanchard. The forward is by Mary Shomon whose book Living Well with Hypothyroidism is also great.

*Those for synthetics and those for natural are quite vehement. I don’t think I’ve quite figured out the truth yet. And the truth might just be that some do better on one thing and some do better on something else.

Keepin' It Real

I can’t even tell you how emotional I’ve been for the past week or so. It’s taken over a week to get over Christmas and Christmas was great! There is something about being with large groups of people that puts me just slightly over the edge to a place that is weird and unhealthy. I do great up until about 20 people in the room and then I’m toast. Unless I’m working. I know. It makes no sense. But if I’m shooting photos of a large group, no problem. But if I’m in a large group and anyone wants to talk to me or relate to me as a person, then holy crap I have a hard time and have to spend the next 7 days recuperating as if I was just in a battle field or went through a hurricane or something. Which I didn’t. It’s dumb. Or, it could be something else.

For the past few years I’ve told people that are close to me and love me that if I have more than 2 bad days in a row a month, I would seriously look at it. Especially if it went on for a few months. A few bad days a month I expect and can handle. Five days or a week or more: no. I’m not prepared to lose that much time out of every 30 days of my life and the past two months I’ve been a mess for at least a week each. And so I’m looking at this carefully but with much speculation. Because getting back on medication is not something I want to do. But if it’s something I need to do, I’ll do it in a heartbeat. Playing around with my mental health is something I will never do. More than anything, I want and need to be a mentally strong mother for my kids. And I’m guessing Joe would like it if I could make it through a month without falling apart. Just a guess.

My birthday is in a few days. I don’t think that turning 36 has anything to do with this, but you just never know. Maybe I’m crying all day for a week because I’m so damn old.

For a glimpse of what I look like lately, you can go here. (via Mimi Smartypants)

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