Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Idiosyncratic Favorite Things

Every once in a while people post a list of favorite things. Usually including their favorite color, their favorite food, favorite alcoholic beverage, and so forth. This gets sent around to "10 of their favorite friends" for those people to fill out their versions of the list, copy the person who sent it, and send it to their favorite friends. The world's most boring chain letter.

Well I think it would be much more interesting to have a list of a person's most idiosyncratic favorite things. Such as the following....

1. Favorite part of your body:
Mine has got to be my irises. Their color defies standard description. Yellow in the middle near the pupil. Moving to green, then blue, then charcoal around the outside edge. What the hell color do you call that on your driver's license? Usually I say green, but honestly, it's not a color at all. It's a sort of weird earth-toned rainbow.

2. Favorite way to have attention showered on you:
Getting a massage. If someone will just rub on my back and feet and hands for an hour, I'm in pure heaven. JUST DON'T FRIGGING TALK TO ME WHILE YOU DO IT. Nothing bugs me more than to pay someone for an hour of blissful massage, only to be TALKED to death. I don't want to make a friend, I want to relax, for crying out loud.

3. Favorite condiment:
Ranch dressing. I could eat it with anything, on almost anything savory, even by itself if it weren't gauche to do so. Closely followed by salsa.

4. Favorite old thing:
Old trucks. I ADORE old pickup trucks. Usually blue ones or red ones or orange ones. We have two geriatric orange trucks a block or so north of us, and when we go walking, I wonder at how it is possible there are two of them, two different makes (I think one is a chevy, and one is a ford) in two different old eras, but on my same street, two blocks up. They are just cool as shit. With a bench seat? Even better. And a big ass steering wheel, and a very roundy hood, with big circular lights. I LOVE old trucks.

5. Favorite style of underwear: (in this category, I note there are limited options, which I will outline here... correct me if I am wrong). There's the g-string, the thong, the string bikini, the boy short, the hipster, the standard bikini, the hi-cut brief, and the brief (aka granny panties). And for the really unusual, there's the boxer, but that's appropriating guy underwear into a girl lineup. But it's an option. It's valid. There are various types of material - satin, silk, cotton, microfiber, nylon, lace.
My favorites are cotton boy shorts or hipsters. Don't get near my ass with a thong. Butt floss. Ew.

6. Favorite thing to spend money on: shoes, hands down.

7. Favorite thing you have had for at least 15 years but cannot bear to part with, despite its age and state of dilapidation:
a pair of shoes, Italian in origin, leather in material, that I got in Germany for over $200 in 1988. They are known as my "warlock shoes" as they look like something a witch or warlock might wear. The dog chewed the back off one of them when he was a puppy (the same dog who we had put down in March, the one who isn't even alive anymore, he was so old). They fit better than any other shoes I own and I LOVE them. Don't TOUCH my shoes.

8. Favorite place to be alone: in the bathroom - I rarely get that opportunity anymore, with my 4 year old. It's a treat when I am. This includes shower/tub bath.

9. Favorite type of cheese: very very very sharp, aged white cheddar. Then epoisses.

10. Favorite thing to sleep in: an old beat-up pair of Old Navy capri jammy pants and my Gap cultu(red) shirt. I don't sleep in the nude, don't care to, don't like my parts touching my other parts. Gross.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Doing Things I Love

So it's been months since I last wrote anything on this blog. There are a few reasons for that. First off, I think I sorta ran out of things to say which I thought were worth saying. Not like there's much of an audience, not like I am writing to the masses or anything. But generally speaking, it's a public blog. And I thought I really ought to write something that someone would want to even bother reading.
Secondly, I started spending the bulk of my free time with other artistic endeavors - ones I feel I'm reasonably good at! Like painting (watercolors) and selling them via eBay. And making a quilt. And other sewing projects - though I'm not terribly good at sewing, I'm working on it. I've picked up a little crocheting of wool, trying to learn how to felt wool and make a few little handbags with felted wool flowers on them. There are tons of options, things I could do with my free time. I just don't have that much of it. And I used to spend it CLEANING, which I've stopped doing with such avid perfectionism. I do have a 2x monthly housekeeper, and I've taken to just vacuuming the floors periodically, and wiping down the bathroom every few days, and keeping the kitchen clean. And that's about it. The housekeeper can do the rest of that stuff! I'd rather spend my free time, when I'm not doing something with Hootie, being creative, and I'm really enjoying the financial rewards of selling my things, in order to do some much desired/wanted things with my money. A new dining room table, a new leather couch, a quilt for my bed, a clothing shopping spree... WHEE! It's been awesome.
I think that it's good when you have the ability to do so, to spend some money on things you don't like doing. Like cleaning house. I don't mind cleaning house, I just don't like it as much as I like painting. I have only so much time, which is more the luxury for me, that I'd rather spend it doing things that relax and decompress me.
So that's what I've been doing!

Tuesday, April 24, 2007

How She Came To Be Called "Hootie"

So everyone always asks, at one point or another. "Hootie? That's cute. How'd she get that nickname?"
I usually want to say, "She just did. It's cute. It fits her. Leave it at that. You don't want to know." Because every time I tell the story, when I'm done, people give me a look which seems to indicate that the time it takes to listen to the story isn't worth it for the end result. It's one of those stories where it contains a lot of detail and no punchline. But if I actually say, "you don't want to know," somehow people are compelled to ask anyway. Or think it's something "dirty."
Even if I say, "It's a long story...," people still ask, "so? That's okay," and encourage me to continue.
So here it is.
When I was pregnant, I called the little critter in my belly "the Skeezix". Because she was quite active, and jumpy, and moved around quite a bit, like this character in the movie "Dark Crystal" which was called a Skeezix. I also called her many other things. Like predominantly "Fluff". Or "Fluffer". Until I found out what a Fluffer is. Um, NOT.
When she was born, I started calling her Skeezer, or Skeezeroo. At some point, that would morph into Skeezerooney, or just Rooney or Rufus. The husband would walk into her bedroom and say, "Hoo-fus? Roo-fus!" and started calling her, "The Hoo". Very early on, she was known as "The Hoo" or "Hoof." And instead of singing the song, "Who let the dawgs out?" (of course, by Snoop Dogg) we'd sing, "Who let the Hoof out? Who? Who? Who? Who?"
Then at some point Hoof and Hoo morphed into "Hootie". And that stuck. She started turning her head when we said it. She would tell people Hootie was her name. For the longest time, she didn't even KNOW what her real name was. She always answered "Hootie." Her first birthday cake had Hootie on the top, every single birthday party she's had since she commemorated her first year has been known as "Hootiepalooza". Which is how this site got its name.
Now she knows her real name, but tells people Hootie is her nickname. Though she also still goes by many, many other nicknames. Skeezer. Hoofus. The Hoo, Ninga (first set of consistent syllables she strung together, while playing with her feet in her crib). Skeez Malteez. Malteaser. Hootiefish. Hootie Patootie. Hoolie (my nephew calls her that, because he couldn't say "Hootie" for a long time). Hootsin (her Moosie calls her that). And variations of her actual name, such as Lex and Lexi.

Thursday, March 29, 2007

And Now For Something Completely Different

1- Can you cook? If yes, do you like to cook?

I love to cook, I can cook, and yet, I don't do it as much as I'd like because of my child who likes to "help". And by help I mean drop and break things, pour half the ingredients onto the counter, you know, stuff which makes the food not taste so great.

2 - When does your whole family come together to eat?

Dinner only. Husband eats at work for lunch and breakfast. We sort of take stuff on the run. But dinner is sacred.

3 - What do you have for breakfast?

A Luna bar. Though I adore breakfast food, it makes me HUGE.

Sometimes though, I allow myself a breakfast taco minus eggs, and/or a pastry. Those are my favorites.

4 - When, where and how do you eat during the week?

Breakfast - Luna bar around 10 after having had 4 cups of coffee w/fat free creamer and splenda.

Lunch - a yogurt, piece of fruit, around noon, while my daughter eats a healthy balanced meal.

Snack - 3:30 pm - crackers and cheese, or a handful of raisins and a Diet Coke, while Hootie eats a snack of her choice.

Dinner - 6:30 pm when husband gets home. I usually cook something really healthy - something from a Weight Watchers recipe or else something hearty but good for you. A stew, a soup, something like this, with a veggie on the side and all of us at the table, set nicely, and with prayers first.

5 - How often do you eat out?

Maybe once or twice a week all-told, like including lunches with a friend and possibly once a weekend with the family.

6 - How often do you order-in or take-away?

Rarely. Maybe once a month or every other month?

7 - Re: 5 & 6 - If money was no question, would you like to do it more often?

Not really. It's not very healthy, it's usually loaded in fats, sugars, and MSG. I prefer to cook if I'm not terribly busy.

8 - Are there any standards that make regular appearances on your table?

Fish, Chicken-based Indian food. Stews, soups, navy beans and bacon, homemade spaghetti or other pasta/Italian foods I make from scratch. A big fat Greek salad. Roasted red pepper soup. Crusty wheat baguettes. Fajitas.

9 - Have you ever tried a recipe from another blog?

Not yet.

10 - Are there any quarrels because of food?

No. Other than w/the child, who will one day gobble down chicken, and the next day say, "EW! I don't LIKE chicken." Then we go through a time out for being rude to her mother and the cook, and then we eat.

11 - Are you vegetarian or can you imagine living vegetarian?

Not, but all but for BBQ every once in a while and the occasional steak, I think I could be. I don't like it OFTEN, but when you want a good steak, you want one, and that's just that.

12 - What would you like to try out that you haven’t dared yet?

I'm adventurous with food, and will/have tried most everything. Those things I haven't tried I have no interest in it.

13 - Do you rather cook or bake?

I love both, but I don't bake often because it's SO DANG FATTENING! And when you gain weight by looking at food, not even smelling or tasting it, you have to be very careful. So I'd say baking, because it's such a rarity in my life.

14 - What was the most terrible mess you made in the kitchen?

I clean as I go. I don't usually have a disaster. Though Thanksgiving for 12 was a big ass mess. That doesn't even FIT INTO THE DISHWASHER.

15 - What do your kids like to eat best? What would your kids never eat?
Hootie likes to eat tortillas, breakfast foods, yogurt, any vegetable save lettuce or leafy stuff, and fruit. She isn't fond of meat, and she'd NEVER EAT SUSHI ever. But neither do I. I have texture issues with sushi and eggs. She's only just shy of 4 though, so I'd have to say we have a lot of time to develop adamant taste issues. LOTS OF TIME. My nieces hate just about everything but chili their mother makes (not mine, mind you, just hers), spaghetti their mom makes, and bread. And if it's green, FORGET IT.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Time That Came To An End

So, on Friday afternoon, after my last post, we had to take the dog to be put down. All morning long, the dog followed me around, velcroed to my leg, and just looked sad. Lots of heavy panting and pacing going on, which I know meant pain. I had gone to pick Hootie up from preschool, and afterwards we went to get some grapefruit-sized river rocks from the quarry to surround the new lavender bed I am making in my front yard. The guys were out in the yard pulling up my ivy bed (where the lavender would go) and I went inside to get some water. The dog was lying in a spot entirely atypical for him to lie. He was on his side, legs straight out and floppy, which was also quite unusual since he's been only gingerly getting up and down over the last week. He wasn't panting, he was breathing slowly, and his lip was floppy on the floor. When I came in, he raised up his head a second, then put it back down on the floor. I thought maybe we'd just woken him up, since he's been exhausted, not sleeping well for the last week. I leaned down to give him a bite of my NutriGrain bar, and he didn't even sniff at it. This was the biggest tell-tale sign for me. This dog has ravenously eaten anything and everything I have given him in all 13 years of his life. He just isn't a dog who turns away a bite of food, especially HUMAN food, the Holy Grail and very rarely offered. It was about 3:45pm on a Friday and the thought of going through the weekend and risking the possibility that the dog could die in my house, while I'm alone with my 3 1/2 year old child... that wasn't even remotely okay with me. I can't lift him myself without a lot of effort and strain on my already bad shoulder, and what do you do with a deceased dog on a weekend anyway?! He couldn't even stand up. I knew it was time. So I called the vet, asked them to prepare a room, that I was bringing him up. I had been telling Hootie that Floyd was sick, and wouldn't be with us much longer, so it wasn't a total shock to her when I said she needed to lie down on the floor with him and say her goodbyes to him. She was very sad, crying on him and telling him how much she loved him, how he's been such a good dog and she will really miss him. Then she asked me why he had to die. I said that he is old, and has gotten very sick, and it's not something the doctors can fix anymore. But it is much better for us to help him die and go to heaven rather than let him suffer in pain here on earth until he dies on his own. She asked me about heaven, where it is and what it is. We've said prayers at night for a while now, and we say grace before meals, and she goes to a Christian preschool, so she's heard terms like God, Jesus, heaven, and so forth. But this was her first experience with it right up in her face. I told her that in heaven, Floyd will be able to run through the pasture chasing rabbits and chewing sticks and rawhide. He'll always have a big bowl of food to eat and fresh water to drink, and the energy to run and play all day. She said that would be good for Floyd, but she'll miss him. She wanted to see if she could go visit him, and I had to tell her no, we won't see Floyd until WE go to heaven, when we die. Of course she wanted to know when that's going to be, and I told her nobody ever really knows. But it'll be a long, long, long time from now.
I had to get one of the workers from outside to come lift him from the living room and into the back of my Subaru, and I'm sure he was a little wigged out by me crying the whole time. We drove up, and the staff let us into the room. They brought him in on a stretcher from the back of my car, and Hootie hugged him one last time. The staff of the clinic took her and kept her busy while I sat with him. They gave him an injection that would make him fall asleep first, so that he would not have any experience of the sensation of euthanasia. I held his head in my lap while the injection worked, and he fell asleep. I took off his collar and I said my goodbyes to him and told him he'd been a good dog. Then I left and took Hootie home while they completed the euthanasia. I couldn't sit and watch that part. I just couldn't do that, and Hootie was starting to look and call for me anyway out in the lobby. So I took her home, and went about the process of cleaning up the reminders of the dog. Leashes, dinner bowl, water dish, medicine, brushes, nail trimmers, dog bed.
I look around at night and see where his bed used to be, and I know that I miss him. I am sort of relishing in the fact that my house isn't filthy and full of dog hair. I don't know what to do with that extra 20 minutes a day that I used to spend stick-vacuuming the house of dog fur. :-) But I miss things like him putting his big heavy blonde head on my leg while I paint, or the little sounds he'd make while lying down. We aren't getting another, despite Hootie having asked me several times if we can get a new pet. And she doesn't mean a fish. I know she wants another dog. She'd take a cat, but we can't do cats since we're allergic (me and the husband). So we'll have to just make due with each other and no animal for a while.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Realities of Life

I was rereading my Happiness Is post, noting how... idealistic I sound. Sometimes I think I'm full of shit. Not that anything in there is wrong or something I don't think, broadly speaking, but it doesn't help with the realities of life, as I'm dealing with them.
It's been raining or pissing wetness for the whole week. I've had to wear my hair curly for days on end to avoid the bushy, fuzzy nightmare which is my "straightened" hair in humidity and rain. The back laundry area is a muddy STY, and I'm feeling pretty much DONE with the rain business for a while. And what's in the forecast all weekend while my darling husband is in Seattle? Yeah. Rain.
And the worst of it is that my loyal trusty hound Floyd is on his last legs. He had a seizure the other night, and had I not had dogs with seizures before, I would have been completely freaked out. He's never had one, and he had 3 of them over the course of the night and morning. He's now on 4 different medications and is stuck to me like glue. Poor guy isn't doing so well, and so we've decided when my husband gets back, we're going to have to have him put down. He's 13, he's a lab and has had a happy, long life. The worst of it though? Breaking the news to Hootie. She LOVES her dog, calls him "Boy" and I think will be devastated that he'll be gone from her little life. We've talked at great length and decided that we're not getting another dog right away. I love the dog, I've always had a dog. I'm sad that his time is coming to an end, and I'm saddest for Hootie who will really miss him. But I think I'm going to enjoy having some time where I don't have to care for a dog on top of everything else. My house will be and stay CLEAN for more than 2 hours at a time. I won't have a muddy laundry room. I won't have panting and pacing and barking in the night, waking me to go outside. I won't have chewing, I won't have shedding everywhere. I won't have to pay a kennel to keep him while we go out of town, or worse, take him with and deal with caring for him in someone else's home. I know at some point we'll likely get Hootie another dog. One that doesn't shed and I can pick up myself, and so on and so forth. But I need to take a breath first before I do that.
So now, it's off to get some things ready for the maid to come.

Saturday, March 17, 2007

Happiness Is....

A fluffy kitty sleeping on a porch swing on a warm spring day?

The sound of children laughing and playing?

Found at the bottom of a bottle of beer?

I've been trying to dissect this question lately, in an effort to grasp what it is, because I see it missing so often.

According to wikipedia, which appears to be the new middle school reference location of choice, "Happiness is an emotional or affective state that is characterized by feelings of enjoyment and satisfaction. As a state and a subject, it has been pursued and commented on extensively throughout world history. This reflects the universal importance that humans place on happiness.... States associated with happiness include well-being, delight, health, safety, contentment, and love. Contrasting states include suffering, depression, grief, anxiety, and pain. Happiness is often associated with the presence of favorable circumstances such as a supportive family life, a loving marriage, and economic stability. Unfavorable circumstances, such as abusive relationships, accidents, loss of employment, and conflicts, diminish the amount of happiness a person experiences. However, according to several ancient and modern thinkers, happiness is influenced by the attitude and perspective taken on such circumstances."

I was reading right along, kind of feeling like it was all so superficial, not agreeing much, all up until I got to the last sentence. "...influenced by the attitude and perspective taken on such circumstances." YES. That is the closest description of what I perceive as happiness as I have been able to find.

If Happiness were the thing which resulted from a state of economic stability, supportive family life, loving marriage, my brother in law and my birth mother would both be happy individuals. But they aren't. My mother evidently suffers a chemical imbalance which skews her perspective on her life. Even with chemical assistance, she's generally speaking unhappy. But not directly about anything in particular. My brother in law chose a very harmful addiction to drown out his apparent unhappiness and what I think is depression, despite being in a marriage with someone who loves him dearly, having beautiful children, working a good-paying job with reasonable work/life balance, and hobbies on the side which purportedly resulted in personal fulfillment. Yet, he claims he was not happy either. WHY? We all know of people that live in big houses, are drowning in money, and have from the outside looking in, fabulous lives. Lots of interesting experiences, beautiful children, lovely spouses. Of course we never know what is going on in those relationships, but a lot of people have a shell of prosperity and are hollow inside.

There was a time when my dear friends Ross and Shonna had very little money. They lived in a small rented house, went to school and/or had various low-paying jobs, shared one vehicle, and times were "tough" financially. But they have solid families, they have each other, and they were both happy people. I've met others who are also happy in the face of quite a bit of adversity in their lives, including horrendous early family life situations which resulted in a good deal of emotional scarring. Yet they have pulled themselves up and out of that pit and found happiness within themselves.

THAT is more what I think it is. Finding happiness within oneself. As in, NOT dependent upon what someone else does or doesn't do, not dependent upon anything outside of oneself. Not so terribly easy to do, and I'm sure with huge life obstacles, even harder. Especially if one has been conditioned to only find fleeting happiness within all of the things surrounding us in the world. Relationships, material goods, activities, homes. Not to say that these things cannot significantly augment our appreciation and enjoyment of our lives - definitely this is the case. But to lay the burden of one's personal fulfillment and happiness at the feet of any or all of these things is asking for disappointment and a rollercoaster. Especially relationships - these things are unpredictable, because they involve the heart and soul of other people. To expect another person bear the burden of making me happy is unfair. The person who needs to make me happy is me. I cannot look to my husband to make me happy, nor can I sit and blame him if I am unhappy. He can do things which displease me, but how I choose to respond to those things is my doing. I can find helpful and positive ways to respond, and/or I can find ways to alleviate things which are problems in my life or even our life together. But I certainly will not give another person the power to render me unhappy. If I don't like something, it's up to me to change it or accept it. From a Buddhist perspective, I think the term is equanimity. Being basically ok in the face of whatever life throws us. Being almost neutral to it. I don't want to suggest that being this emotionless zombie is a good idea, or that I have to find a way to accept abuse in my life. But the direction of decoupling one's happiness from things external to us is of key importance.

I know for some, and partially for me, happiness can be found in communion with God. Going to church? Well, I'm sure that can be part of it, but I don't know that it magically just happens by sitting in a church building with a bunch of other people, singing songs and listening to words of wisdom from the pulpit. I think the intention is critical. Why does one go to church? To seek God? To seek communion with others? I can seek God in all the miracles I see on Earth, without sitting in a church. I can seek communion with others without sitting in a church building. In fact, I find it better outside of church, as I don't actually end up interacting on any meaningful level with people in the church building. But that's been my experience - I don't condemn it for those who find what they need there. For me, the purpose of seeking God has been to understand something greater than myself, the creator of me and everything around me. To accept the way I was created as perfect and intentional. To understand the mystery of life, and I don't mean MY life. I mean the difference between a thing being alive and being the same set of elements and matter, but not being alive. I don't think God is up there orchestrating everything we do down here. Free will for everyone lies in direct conflict with Him making us do or not do things. Yet there are elements of life on earth which are not a direct effect of a person's free will, and I do think He finds ways to impact those things, and ways to guide a person to lessons we can learn. But in essence, I think actual happiness comes from accepting that I am an accumulation of what He started out giving me, and what I have done with myself. And it's a heavy responsibility, owning what I have DONE with myself from the time of my birth. But it's an important key to owning my own happiness. The more I can grasp that I am what I make of myself, and my life is what I make of it (and what I appreciate of it), the happier I can actually be.

So how does one go about doing that, BEING happy, if one doesn't have it already? I think if I really had a good formula for that, I'd be a wealthy woman. There's a lot I don't know about what causes depression in people, but I suspect there's a combination of chemicals, life circumstances, and learned behavior at play. So between medication for the chemical issues and deconstructing one's mental framework and rebuilding it in a healthy way, there has to be a solution in there somewhere.

But for me anyway, it has come from a lot of time spent learning and accepting who I am, finding pieces of me that don't fit who I want to be, and having the personal strength to walk alone through the process of changing those things. Changing behavior patterns which are destructive isn't easy, and requires a lot of focus and strength. But in the end, it has led me to be a person who can truly say she's happy with who she is, who has taken responsibility for who she is, and is happy with life. There are clearly moments which cause me frustration, events which cause sadness or anxiety, or areas which are unpleasant to deal with, but those don't affect my overall state of happiness. They come and go like the tide, get dealt with and I move on from them. I don't seek to avoid the troubles that come, I try and face them head-on, and get through them, fully experiencing the emotion of the moment, good or bad, and then learn something from it. I try to accept people in all their failings and humanity for the good that is in them, and encourage them to be the best people they can be too. Am I done with myself? Have I "achieved" the pinnacle of happiness? I'm sure not. I know there are still more things going on inside me that need to be addressed, and as they come up, I've no doubt that I will address them. My intention is not to sit in my ivory tower here, preaching to the masses. I'm more trying to find some way to bundle up the concept and share it with people who aren't happy, in an effort to help them see a way out of it. I don't even know if this is possible, sharing keys to happiness. I wonder sometimes if some people are just incapable of owning it and creating it within themselves. But if they aren't, that is just a sad statement. I don't think it takes nearly as much introspection and "making a mountain out of a molehill" as I have done at times in my life, but I think that's what's been necessary for me personally to get to where I am happy and know it. For people like my husband, I think it's a lot more natural.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Lack of Anything to Say

I have no idea who even reads this blog, but if anyone has been checking, only to note I haven't said shit in the last few weeks, it's because I'm madly painting. Pictures. That I'm selling on eBay. To earn the money to buy a few pieces of furniture for the house which aren't in our budget this year. Like a couch, and an antique farm table that I'll hopefully find at the Round Top Antique Fair in a month. And then, maybe, later in the year, a bedframe for our king sized bed.
So if you wanted to see what I'm selling on eBay, type "TRASI" into the search window and it'll bring up all of my pieces. I actually sold one for $43 last night. Very exciting.

Thursday, March 01, 2007


As is usually the case with me lately, I am inspired by something else I read and am going to post a discussion about it myself. Heather (who writes Dooce) posted regarding regrets. It's a topic I have mulled over a lot in my life. Over time, I have developed an aversion to the concept of regrets. Life gives us a lot of opportunities to make good or bad decisions, and at the time, most of us do our best to try and make good ones, based on the information we had at the time. These decisions cut a path for us through our own timeline, setting a course that carves our personalities and shapes our understanding of the world. Those decisions, good and bad, are all valuable in their own right, for the lessons we learn, the people we meet, and the experiences we gather. So there isn't much I regret, because it brought me where I am today. But then again, I haven't ever made any "turning point" types of decisions or mistakes which have had such a bad effect that I would want to undo it to spare someone pain or undo some grossly disastrous wrong.
Even so, there are a few regrets which stand out in my mind. Some end up unraveling, as I ponder the effect that could have had on my life, and some stand firm.
As a high schooler, I was offered the opportunity to study before and after school with my art teacher, in order to better prepare me to go to art school. Like Kansas, or Chicago. SERIOUS FUCKING ART SCHOOL. It was put to me as a decision - either I was willing to put in the effort and work my ass off to get in and succeed, or my art teacher wasn't going to put in the extra time with me. It was a HUGE compliment to my talent, and something I took my time thinking about before deciding. I talked to my parents about it at the time. I was SSSSOOOOO tempted, because art is in my soul and it feeds my soul a LOT. But, in the end, I decided not to go to art school. I thought then (which was true then, may still be true now) that the only time my art was really brilliant, rather than just capable, was when some wretched sort of emotion came out of me. Angst, anger, sadness, fear, frustration, loneliness. And the rest of the time, if I forced art to come out of me, I wasn't really satisfied with it. I was afraid of becoming a "starving artist", depending upon brief bits of misery to create something that would pay the rent. And usually the brilliant pieces that came out of me weren't part of an "assignment", the way most artists are given assignments for their jobs. The thought of just painting and selling my pieces never occurred to me; most artists I knew of never were famous until they were dead. Um.... NOT APPEALING! So I chose to study languages instead. That was something else that I was not only good at, but also didn't depend upon my mood. However, I can't say that I actually regret this decision. It all leads to the path of where I am now, and I like where I am now. I wouldn't be married to the man I'm married to, because I met him through a friend I made in Russian class. I wouldn't likely even be in Austin, now. And clearly, I wouldn't have my beautiful Hootie. So no, I don't regret it. But I can say that I could have done it, had I decided otherwise. That, or med school, another thought that occurred to me in hindsight. Not that I had any idea I would maybe have been good at that, but later in life I have discovered an affinity for that which never occurred to me back then. And, had I done that, I would have also missed out on a great many trips to Europe and other parts of the world that have so enriched my life. SO, no regrets.
I also could regret that I spend SO MUCH time wrapped up in trying to please other people, worrying about what they think. There's definitely a balance to be achieved, though. I don't know that I have it down yet, but it is in the hopper, so to speak. I don't want to be this hapless narcissist who is only out to please herself, but I know that a lot of my life I have spent making decisions and behaving in a way that I envision would be likeable and smart and savvy. I didn't really even consider really just marching to the beat of my own drummer, because heck, I didn't think my drummer was very cool, and didn't trust him anyway. These things are changing, especially in the last 7 years. But who is to say when a person ought to be learning this? Many people never learn it, and either go on in their self-absorbed way, or become a doormat/martyr for the people they want to impress or please.
But there are some little regrets I do have, which I know wouldn't have changed my life course at all. Like, for example, the decision to not stay in Austin on our wedding night, and go to the big ass party all our friends threw in our honor. We didn't have a lot of money, and my inlaws paid for the tickets to get us to Colorado for our honeymoon. The ones they chose, however, were red-eye flights the next morning, out of Dallas, and the only way we could get there on time for the flight was to fly out of Austin at 7pm the night of our wedding. So, we had a 2pm wedding, and what amounts to a "tea and buffet" mid-afternoon, and we flew to Dallas. To stay in a BORING hotel next to the airport. Which, for a wedding night, was less than fantastic. I would have loved to have stayed, sucked up paying for more expensive tickets, and had a great time with our friends, because isn't that what it's all about anyway? As I look back at the wedding itself, I still love a lot about it. Just not that part. AND, I would have served alcohol at the wedding. We didn't because there was a friend or two we thought would get rip-roaring drunk, and make an ass of himself at the wedding. Well what wedding is complete without a drunk friend, I ask?!? I was too uptight back then. Seriously!
I'll also borrow from Dooce, in that her only regret was not wearing more sunscreen. I have a sneaking suspicion that I will end up dealing with skin cancer at some point in my life, especially on my face, because of having gotten so much sunburn in my life. I have always liked to have a light tan in the summer, and many years had a nice dark tan. We always thought that was so attractive. It ain't gonna be so attractive when I have scars from having stuff cut off my face and arms and chest and back someday. I'm much more into sunscreen, ESPECIALLY for Hootie. I don't even want to instill in her that having a tan is something worth seeking. If you get some color from being outside, and it happens slowly and naturally with a LOT of sunscreen on, then that's just living your life. But I BATHED IN BABY OIL as a teenager, to get a darker tan. HOLY SHIT, HOW STUPID IS THAT?!? My uncle just died from melanoma, from a spot on his back that had been there forever, which likely turned to melanoma in part from sun exposure. This is the generation that needs to make a change in culture about the sun. And really, it's a woman thing, I think. I don't see men worrying about it nearly as much as women do.
But really, that is it. I don't think I've been purposefully mean to people in my life. And over time, I have learned a lot of good lessons from the various mistakes I've made. But I've also been very lucky, in that I haven't really made that many mistakes, and the ones I have made haven't had that many heinous consequences. Maybe if something I did had led to someone being severely hurt by me, then I'd regret it. But luckily, that's never happened to me. KNOCK ON WOOD it never does. The saddest part of reading Dooce's post was reading the comments of people who have some seriously bad regrets, like regretting giving up a child, or regretting not seeing their parents before they died, stuff they can't undo and will wish they had for the rest of their lives. I try my best to think through the decisions I make so that I don't have to wish things were different.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Self Esteem

Recently I have been going through a coaching exercise as a sort of trial for a friend-of-a-friend. J is learning to be a coach for a program in Montana, whereby people from the business world come in and learn about leadership during a work retreat, involving horses. What I am doing has nothing to do with horses, but in a way has a lot to do with the same concepts a person learns in leadership training. J needs to practice with her tools and techniques prior to being able to finish her training, and I'm a guinea pig for that. Since I'm already grossly introspective anyway, I probably make a really EASY candidate for this exercise... not much of a challenge for her, but probably give her the ability to use a lot of her tools!
It's been pretty enlightening for me also, in the way that counseling has been enlightening, the few times I have engaged in counseling in my lifetime. However, when I have gone through any counseling before, it was in response to some major issue going on in my life, and I don't feel I have any big pressing major issues right at the moment. Maybe that is a better time to sit back and reflect on oneself, though, because I'm not caught in the crossfire of the issue itself.
One big fat aha moment for me has been around the area of self esteem. As a child, when I lived in Iowa and befriended a girl with hearing aids, I was absolutely NOT a popular child. Like, dump-the-books unpopular, or turn-off-the-bathroom-light-on-her unpopular. I always figured it was because of my association with Erika, who was exponentially even more unpopular than I was, as she had the social skills of a rock (or one of those oddballs at a Star Trek convention). But even when I moved to Texas, I wasn't HUGELY popular. I had friends, quite good ones, and was well respected and never teased or tortured like I was in Iowa, but popular? Nope. And I grew to understand it was more a function of my looks than it was anything else. So, I became REALLY REALLY GOOD at a zillion things. Art. German. Other languages. Straight A's. And then eventually as I went to college and so on, the world broadened for me, and I met a wider range of people, once I was out of that microcosm where your looks and charm determine your likeablility. You know how it is in every high school in America - either you're gorgeous, you're a star athlete, or you're the class clown. The latter two not requiring the looks as much, but those sure help out.
So, I'm not what I'd consider grossly unattractive by any means. I'm just not a bombshell. I am well aware that I'm not pretty in the sense that the world finds people pretty. I'm also not interesting looking, in the way the world will still consider you attractive if you've got a quirky, funky look about you. I have the same nose all babies are born with - a pudgy little ball plopped on the middle of my face. I have no bridge to my nose, and my profile is just very flat. My smile is kinda funny, and my hair... well... let's just say it has never been my best feature. At age 37, it is amazing how much this STILL seems to play into my psyche and my self confidence. I know it shouldn't. At this point, it makes about zero difference in my world. I have tons of self confidence about a great many other areas of my life, but that one still remains a bit hamstrung. I didn't really even know it, because I have always considered myself a pretty confident, self-assured person. What I found out is that people will often overcompensate in one area, to make up for something they perceive themselves lacking. And that's me to a T. I just wasn't actively aware of it until recently. So my current self-project is to really focus on this area, and come to terms with exactly the way I look, and let it the fuck go. There's very little about it that I can change, and fundamentally, it doesn't matter. I don't need to overcompensate for it, I don't owe anyone anything extra because I'm not easy on the eyes and/or the funniest thing alive. It's a hair shirt, and I'm tired of having that feeling in the back of my mind. I'm not entirely sure how one goes about taking OFF said hairshirt, but I'm sure as hell going to try and figure it out.
Okay. That's all.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007


I've been swamped recently. Trying to get a million things done before Thursday, when I will finally hear from my orthopoedic doctor what the F is really going on in my shoulder. It's bothered me since Hootie was born, basically, since that timeframe in which she lived perched upon my right shoulder whilst I bounced endlessly, pacing and walking, keeping her from the interminable screaming which would take place, generally between about 3 pm and 4 am. At first I attributed it to her not caring for the BRIGHT, COLD place in which food doesn't come at a steady pace anymore, but eventually I settled in and let it be called colic. Four months (give or take, it sort of faded, rather than stopping abruptly) later, my shoulder would ache and occasionally I would feel a sharp pain when I put it in certain positions. I've consumed somewhere on the order of a shitload of ibuprofen since then, most days at least some. Some days none.
About 18 months ago I saw the doc, had an x-ray, and found out that I have calcific tendonitis, which is basically this chunk of hard calcium my body decided to place on my tendon where it experienced some tearing from overuse. Somehow my body got this signal to "fix" the problem. But what it does to fix it makes it worse. Now this chunk of calcium scrapes and shreds my muscles and other soft tissues when it comes in contact with them. Which hurts, of course.
I haven't ever been one who likes to sit around and belabor things which hurt. Let's drink Folgers coffee at the kitchen table, smoke a pack of Camel Unfiltereds, and talk about how we're getting older, falling apart, and did you know Preparation H is on sale at Walgreens? No foolin? Yeah. NOT.
So instead of bitching, I started doing yoga. And that helped me a lot, for a year, especially when it came to getting my range of motion back. I had gotten to where I was so careful with the arm, I stopped moving it very much, and that sucked. So the yoga got that back for me. And for a while, it didn't hurt as much either. But the more I progressed with yoga, the more I'd come home with a sore shoulder, take ibuprofen, and have to rest up for the next class. So now I'm back to being on the verge of bitching, and I made the commitment to myself I wouldn't do that. If it ever started to prevent me from doing something that I wanted to do, I would do something about it.
The doc tried cortisone, it didn't work. He said he could try again, but he knew he got it in the right spot, so didn't hold out much hope of it working the second time, so I skipped that round, left his office, and sucked it up until about a week ago. I went in again, told him it had gotten worse. He scheduled an MRI, which I endured last Friday, and now I'm waiting to go talk to him Thursday about the results. If my muscles are torn in the rotator cuff region, he wants to operate quickly. If not, I can wait until summer timeframe. But at this point, I am not sure I want to be waiting much longer, as it's really been bugging me more in the last few weeks.
In the meantime, I have project upon project lined up for me to complete. I just made a bookshelf this week (6' tall by 30" wide) with my friend Gene, for Hootie's bedroom. I need to sand and stain and seal it next. I want to redo an entire garden bed in my front yard with lavender, rather than English ivy, which is gonna take some shoulder to do it. I started painting and selling things on eBay (selling paintings, that is), and have been trying to figure out how to create a business for myself whilst I am at home, something I could do with my artistic side to pull in some G. In order to buy some furnishings for my house, which we've been needing for quite some time.In any case, I feel like I'm a bit under the gun, to get this done before I'm Gimpy the Sling Girl for 3 weeks, and "I can't do much with this floppy thing" for the following 5.
Productivity is a driving force in my life. I am not sure what I will do when I'm a "lame duck" for 2 months. Gah.
But HEY! I haven't had a sinus infection since Thanksgiving! Life is awesome!

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Staying Connected

I read a post on one of my favorite blogs today, sweetjuniper. For those who don't care to go read it (it's lengthy), the core story is that Dutch was in Generica (strip mall in suburb area) at a party store, when an old man came in looking for mylar balloons which commemorated his 60th wedding anniversary. He wanted to take them to his wife in a nursing home, who wouldn't really know the difference. He told his little story to the clerk who was disinterested and didn't interact with the old guy at all.
Most of the people on the post were noting how sad it must be for that little old guy, and how shitty these people were for not just reaching out and hugging the guy. Then there were the mom-and-pop store jihad folk, who wanted to say it's all because of Big Box America that clerks you talk to in stores don't give a shit about you or about their jobs. Some wanted to say, "hey, the kid's a teenager, cut him some slack". I tend to think those people are parents of teenagers, but whatever. There was some wistful hearkening back to the good ol' days of yore, when people cared about their customers, got to know them by name, gave good service.
But none of this was really the point of what Dutch was trying in there to say. Basically he was surprised that this little old guy even shared his story, because that's not how our current "society" typically interacts. It is how HIS society, back in his youthful days, did interact. People didn't have the internet to "talk" to each other. If you wanted to meet people, you went out on the town with your friends. You went to a dance, to a drive-in, to the soda fountain, or to church. You met people at the grocery. If you wanted to buy something, you went to the store to buy it. And you probably didn't have the 412 choices we have today. The guy selling it to you was knowledgeable about his "craft", whatever good or service he was in business to provide. Everything involved a lot more direct person-to-person interaction than we do today.
Why is that? Are we in love with convenience? Are we lazy? Are we a new breed of massive introverts? What is it that causes us as a society to withdraw so significantly from each other that we barely even have that which used to be called a community?
I take a look at myself - I'm a bit of an oxymoron in this vein. Yes, I'm introverted, but I'm not a hermit [crab]. But admittedly, my preferred method of communication back and forth with a good many friends is via email. It isn't that I don't like to talk - I talk to my mom and sister just about every day. But I like the fact that I can write something and check back later for an answer, rather than calling and leaving a voicemail, and waiting for a call back, or talking. I like face-to-face interactions better than the telephone or email, however, so I'm not hopeless. But the point wasn't lost on me that the concept of community is slowly eroding around us. That's sad. But more than it being sad, it's a call to action. If that isn't something that I want for our lives, if that's not something I want to pass on by way of example to my daughter, I need to behave differently to create a different experience. I am generally speaking polite and courteous when I'm out and about with people. Sometimes I can tend toward impatience when I'm around someone who is ignorant and blocking my way, but even then, I try and just talk myself down from it and let that go. But moreso than just not being rude in public, I think there's a stronger effort required to frequent the businesses in my neighborhood, develop even more relationships with people in my area, sit on my porch and play in the front yard with Hootie more. Talk to people as they go by. We're very lucky in that we live in a neighborhood where there are porches and sidewalks and neighborhood groceries and bakeries and wine shops and delis. In some of the more recently built neighborhoods, you rarely see people even outside. If they are, it's in their back yards, behind a 6-foot fence, guarding their privacy. People drive into their garages, close the door, enter their houses, and don't even interact with their neighbors at all. I don't want that, but instead of just saying I don't want that, I need to be responsible for not HAVING that. For going out there more, meeting more of the neighbors, being more involved, and being more open and responsive when other people open a line of communication with me.
I know my child is going to grow up with technology at her fingertips, but I hope and pray we manage to teach her that technology doesn't and shouldn't take the place of real, face-to-face human interaction. That's what emotionally feeds us. It isn't that we cannot also connect with these tools - I've gained a broader view by all of the insights and perspectives I read on the internet, and have developed some tentative e-relationships through that mechanism. But it certainly isn't my primary interaction mechanism, and shouldn't be.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Hope and Fear

Yesterday I returned to my beloved yoga studio, that I have missed for 2 weeks while I was away. My instructor Keith (I only attend his sessions, not out of any dislike for the other instructors, but for a strong appreciation for his teaching style and the content of his practice) usually weaves some sort of concept into each practice, upon which to meditate or focus. Sometimes it is something as simple as slowing down, choosing to move very fluidly and purposefully between asanas and between thoughts. Increasing the distance between thoughts. Sometimes the ideas are more complex. The studio is a Buddhist yoga studio, which evidently differs from others in that Buddhist teachings exterior to the actual practice of yoga aren't necessarily woven throughout other yoga classes. Having been only to a class offered at a former workplace years ago, I wouldn't know. But I really have developed an appreciation for the works of poetry Keith works into the class as well as the philosophy he shares very humbly with us all. He does it in a way that lures you to chew on these questions in your mind long after the 90 minutes are over.
So on Sunday, on the board was written something to the effect of this: "Tension is what you think you should be. Relaxation is who you really are. Chinese proverb." And then at the beginning of class he shared a quote from an author who said, "The essence of happiness is this: fear nothing, hope nothing." Keith claimed it took him years before he could fully grasp the meaning of those statements, and come to see them as true. And that the absence of hope is not to be confused with pessimism. Because there's an absence of both fear and hope. This limbo place in the middle where basically you aren't married to the outcome of anything.
We're conditioned in our American environment to always have hope. To pray for what you want, to hope in your heart for the best outcome. But I think what Keith was getting at is that implicit inside hope is desire. And when you desire something you do not have, you set yourself up for disappointment and unhappiness if the outcome isn't in your favor. Inherent in that statement is the focus on the self, the "ego", which Buddhists work to eliminate in order to become one with each person's higher self. God, "Buddha Nature", Allah. So from what I understand, the intention is to be happy with whatever comes in life, to not expect or yearn for more than what it is, to experience it with wonder and curiosity and equanimity, fully without expectation. Everything is basically neutral, not good or bad. Attachment causes suffering, which is to be avoided in order to join in "bliss" with the higher self.
While I can definitely see the point of "fear nothing" and can work in my life toward that goal whole-heartedly, I have a hard time with "hope nothing". In fact, I think I have a hard time with living a life devoid of attachment. How does one stay connected to anyone, without a certain level of attachment? How do Buddhists define concrete relationships like marriage, without the concept of attachment? I understand the damage done by excess attachment, where you grasp at someone or something, often causing it to slip even further from our grasp. Love openly and you love without demands or possession. I'm all good with that. But even if we can imagine this state of being in which you are basically fine with whatever happens in life, birth, death, disease, and so on... not wishing or hoping for the best, just letting life unfold... it seems very void of the intense joys and sorrows to be experienced in life. Hope implies that you are fighting for an outcome. How does anyone with cancer actually beat it without hope? A lot of the point is to not fear death, to not see it as an "end" but rather as a transition. And therefore, not to cling to this life we are living here and now. But that would seem to mean you are neutral towards death, and aren't fighting against it. And I just can't take that stance. When I go, I'm sure I'll go kicking and screaming into the next phase, wanting to fully get as much of life and experience out of this one as is possible.
As a mother, I know that if my own life were ever in jeopardy, I damn well would fight like hell to stay on this earth, for no other reason than to be there for my child. Losing a parent at such a young age is devastating, and often can cause irreparable damage to a little one's psyche. While I know my daughter has a large number of people who love and cherish her to where she would never be without family and nurturing, I cannot imagine it would be as good as if her mother were there with her. Damn straight I'd fight to be here for her. And for my husband and family as well. When people die, it's not sad for them, they're moving on into the next phase. But for those of us left on earth to miss their presence, it leaves a hole and an ache. I don't think that I would want to be this stoic individual who remained so unattached to everyone and everything that they didn't feel the sense of loss in experiencing the remainder of their lives without their missing loved one. I am fully willing to go through the suffering and sadness of loss, in order to experience the abundant joys of rich, deep respectful attachments to other people in this world. Maybe I am missing something, or perhaps I am just delving into the bottom layer of this concept, for it can't be that simple, if it took Keith many years to grasp and embody it. I guess I'm just not there. May never be there. I think it is possible to hope for the best, and then deal with the reality. And I don't see the inherent "unhappiness" in doing so.

Friday, January 26, 2007


Okay, so I realize that this post is probably significantly controversial to a good many people who may read it. People seem polarized on the issue. But, it's my blog, so I will offer up the topic and anyone feel free to debate my points.

While I was up in Washington helping my mom (the second Mom, not the first one) after foot surgery, there were a few rough days in there. Hootie is in a very long 3-year-old phase of testing all the boundaries and I admittedly am not as consistent as I probably should be. I've got my head focusing on other areas for improvement right now, such as managing my irritation and frustration levels, and responding to those things appropriately. We were in a cold place, making it hard for Hootie to play outside for any length of time. I haven't really restocked the toys up there to suit her age, so most of them are still baby/toddler toys. On top of that, I was much less available to help direct her play and get her set up with arts and crafts and so forth, because of the time spent taking care of Mom and the house. Two days in a row, I tried getting Hootie out of the house for a few hours - over to my sister's house to play with her cousin Zakky, and once we took the kids together to the mall to play on their little indoor playscape. Both times, Mom ended up wanting or needing my help while I was gone, and became irritated that I wasn't there as I should be. The second time, I called and found her friend Susan there visiting, but Mom would not let Susan prepare her lunch. She waited for me to come back home to do that, bring it to her bedside, and then basically dismissed me and Hootie so she could visit with her friend. She wouldn't let Susan read Hootie stories or visit with me, she just wanted me to do my work and be gone. All of that set my mood to one where I felt I was between a rock and a hard place. Unable to please anyone in the situation. I was frustrated and stressed by it. This general frustration and stress lasted about two days and then Mom and I had a big discussion about it, and "cleared the air" so to speak. We discussed how Hootie is learning the "art of manipulation" and how I am not responding to it in a firm, authoritative way. I know we disagree on a few areas of child rearing, one of which is the use of corporal punishment - spanking and the like. It isn't that I do not believe in the use of a physical deterrent from some behaviors. In particular, I have used a "flick" of the lip when Hootie is grossly disrespectful to me, especially after repeated verbal warnings. But spanking her, which I have tried a few times, has had very little positive effect. I think it's good for things like teaching a toddler not to go in the street or not to touch a hot stove, etc. Or when they are throwing fits and disobeying direct requests or commands intentionally, after escalating warnings and consequences. But I believe in using consequences which somehow relate or tie to the misbehavior. Flicking her mouth tells her that she's being hurtful with her mouth, so her mouth will get "stung" by my flick. If she cannot share a toy, I will take it away so that nobody plays with it. If she cannot exhibit proper dining etiquette, she will sit in a time out in her room. And so on. This is just how I see it, and each parent makes up their own mind on these issues. It is each parent's perrogative to choose what they see as appropriate discipline to deter poor behaviors and guide their child. But it clearly bothers my mother that Hootie hasn't quit exhibiting these behaviors yet. And she doesn't agree with how I handle her. But for me, that is okay. I don't need permission or approval on that front. It'd be nice if my mom thought I did a good job with my child, but it's not critical that she approve. But, things went much smoother after that conversation. However, yesterday she told me that she thought she had mentioned (which she didn't), that maybe I should consider getting on some anti-depressant medications. That perhaps I need some help in managing my stress.
Anti-depressant medications have made a huge difference for many people that I know, and I am all in favor of them for these folks. My Mother in Nevada has been on them for years, and constantly struggles with getting the "balance" just right. However, without any medications, she'd be in a mental hospital or dead, I am sure. She's got a chemical imbalance which causes her to irrationally experience a lot of depression. My mom and sister both use anti-depressants, for different reasons. My mom's got a progressively debilitating disease which causes a lot of pain and stress and fear, and these drugs help her immeasurably. My sister has not explained a whole lot of what she experiences when she does not take medications which manage her depression, but I can definitely see what benefit they have for her, how they help her feel so much better. My friend Kathleen has taken two different medications for as long as I have known her, and she's also told me she needs them to even herself out - she's also been diagnosed with depression. So clearly, I am not against them at ALL.
But, I think there's a time and a place for them, and I don't believe that I fall into the category of needing them. I see it as either a temporary problem (a very close loved one dies - a spouse, a child, a parent, a sibling - which causes deep sadness and despair), or a chronic problem (like a chemical imbalance, making one prone to depressive thoughts). I don't feel I have either of these issues. Generally speaking, I am happy and content with my life. Of course I have adversity. Of course I have things which I work on to improve in myself. But I don't believe I fit any of the classic signs of depression. According to a website on signs of depression from the Mayo Clinic, the two hallmark signs to look out for are:
1. Loss of interest in normal daily activities; you lose interest in activities that you once used to enjoy
2. Depressed mood; You feel sad, helpless or hopeless, and may have crying spells.
Further, it goes on to note that for a doctor or clinician to diagnose depression, most of the following symptoms should be present for at least two weeks:
Sleep disturbances. Sleeping too much or having problems sleeping can be a sign you're depressed. Waking in the middle of the night or early in the morning and not being able to get back to sleep are typical.
Impaired thinking or concentration. You may have trouble concentrating or making decisions and have problems with memory.
Changes in weight. An increased or reduced appetite and unexplained weight gain or loss may indicate depression.
Agitation. You may seem restless, agitated, irritable and easily annoyed.
Fatigue or slowing of body movements. You feel weariness and lack of energy nearly every day. You may feel as tired in the morning as you did when you went to bed the night before. You may feel like you're doing everything in slow motion, or you may speak in a slow, monotonous tone.
Low self-esteem. You feel worthless and have excessive guilt.
Less interest in sex. If you were sexually active before developing depression, you may notice a dramatic decrease in your level of interest in having sexual relations.
Thoughts of death. You have a persistent negative view of yourself, your situation and the future. You may have thoughts of death, dying or suicide.

The only symptoms in all of these which pertain to me are "agitation" (my frustration and ability to be easily irritated), and some level of fatigue. As was clearly proven to me at my mom's house, I am able to sleep all night if not interruped multiple times by a child or a dog, which is the case at home. I'm tired because I don't get uninterrupted sleep most nights. I'm easily irritated because I am tired. But none of the other things describe me at all. I get a lot of pleasure out of many things I do routinely - yoga, taking walks with my husband and daughter, cooking meals, cleaning my house and seeing it all tidy and cute, shopping, reading, visiting with friends. My self esteem is just fine, my interest in sex remains strong and unchanged, and the thought of death... well, I just don't ever think about that, unless I'm on an airplane and it's really turbulent, and I'm afraid. But I don't think that's what the Mayo Clinic is referring to.

Medication is appropriate when a person needs medication to solve a problem. When there aren't other ways to really solve them. I take ibuprofen multiple times a day to deal with the pain in my shoulder. I take allergy pills to combat my severe allergies to everything in this town. I do yoga and meditate and garden and spend some time alone to help calm and reenergize myself. And I think those things are appropriate ways for me to deal with stress and frustration. I'm a at a bit of a loss on how to deal with my dog waking me up at night, and we've been progressively working on the child so that she will sleep through the night in her own bed. But what I deal with is just life. Normal things in life.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

No I Didn't Fall Off the Face of the Earth.

Have been away, up in Washington, helping my Mom post-op. Just returned back to Austin last night. I missed a bad-ass ice storm, from what I hear (see attached pic of my roof! With ICICLES!)

So yeah. And I switched to Verizon, got a new phone (a Cherry Chocolate, which I like though I would have liked the Mint Chocolate more, had they had one in stock, which they didn't. And all efforts to exchange it for a Mint Chocolate in Washington were foiled due in the first part to my first Cherry Chocolate breaking, and in second part to me leaving the BLOODY BOX AT MY MOM'S HOUSE instead of bringing it with me to the store. DUH. Now it is probably too late, if they even have any at any store in Austin.) The husband bought me a 1MB card to put in the phone so I can download some music to it, and use it as a... well, it's not an IPOD, though the UI is frighteningly similar, and the format isn't MP3, so it isn't an MP3 player. I can use it to play music, OKAY? So I downloaded individual songs to it, and then I sat and relished in my song choices, and the songs I haven't listened to in quite some time, and so that was all fun.
I'm sure I'll have something to say here soon. I am rarely without something to say. Like maybe how my mom suggested perhaps I ought to think about anti-depressants to help me deal with stress and my 3-year-old. That went over like a fart in church. For a lot of reasons. Stay tuned.

Friday, January 12, 2007

Balancing Act

So I have this dilemma.

My Mother (the one who raised me, not the one I'm going to see next week) has invited me and my family to come to Nevada for the holidays this year.

What to do about this?

My gut reaction to this invitation is unfortunately, "No thank you." In short, I do not wish to spend the holidays with them in Nevada. I would rather either spend time with them in Nevada another time of the year, or POSSIBLY spend a holiday with them in Austin. But even that isn't high on my list.

They left Austin two weeks after Hootie was born. They saw her twice as a newborn infant before they left. Once at the hospital, and once when I took her up to their house as they were preparing to pack up and leave. They have not been back to Austin since they moved to Nevada. They claim it is because they cannot afford it. Because they sunk their retirement income into a custom-built, beautiful house in a little golf community north of Las Vegas. They don't play golf. Or gamble. But they like this little town, and they like the lack of state income tax in Nevada. And they felt they had no other choices but to buy a home which continued to increase in price as it was being designed and built. They also have three dogs to board, should they leave town. So evidently, it's a big ordeal to go out of town.

I brought Hootie to their little house once, when she was almost 2. And my Mother saw her at a family funeral in Washington when she was about 9 months old, for a short time. So that's all they have seen of their granddaughter.

After a rather unpleasant exchange about holidays in mid-2005, wherein I explained that we already had made commitments for both Thanksgiving and Christmas that year, my mother tearfully claimed she felt like a bastard stepchild, unimportant and left out, and would I EVER spend holidays with them? I suggested they come to visit between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and we could celebrate a joint holiday and go to festivals and see lights and what-not, but this wasn't received well. If it isn't THE day of the holiday, it isn't worth anything, evidently. I eventually conceded out of pity, and said that the Thanksgiving of 2006, the following year, this past year, was free, and we'd love to have them come visit in Austin. I reiterated my invitation multiple times throughout the year, only to be told they hadn't discussed it yet, and maybe, maybe not. I even reserved the little guesthouse across the street which I manage, in case they decided to come. Throughout the year, whenever I would inquire about it, they blew me off, didn't really respond to my invitation, and of course, did not come.

Further information pertaining to this dilemma resides in my earlier post regarding why I have two mothers, and the state of the relationship with my parents. Holidays with a bipolar individual are not usually easy. My mother's medications are not consistent in their effectiveness, and I've spent many a holiday with her where she's miserable to be around. Sometimes not, but it's a crapshoot. Add to it the fact that there's little to do in this little town in Nevada, and my parents are pretty sedentary, and we haven't got terribly much to discuss as it is. We couldn't find an open playground anywhere in this little town, only the one attached to the school, which was fenced off from the public. My parents have nothing which accommodates a child, and the town has even less, considering it's really a retirement community of sorts. The thought of spending my holiday there doesn't appeal to me personally. If we were to go, it would be solely out of a sense of sadness that these two people are alone in Nevada, with no other children to celebrate the holidays with, and little initiative to make of it something special between the two of them. I realize that this situation is all of their own doing, yet I nevertheless feel sad for them that this is how it is.

As a married woman, I live that life where you go to one spouse's family's house for one of the holidays, and the other family for the next one, being Thanksgiving and Christmas. It rotates around and adjusts when the husband's sister is able to come to Texas and be with us for a specific holiday, so that we can all see her as well. So, when it's time for my family's "turn", I like to go to Washington. I like to see my Mama and sister and her family. Hootie loves to play with her cousins, we get to play in the snow and possibly go skiing, everyone laughs and plays poker and watches football and has a lot of holiday cheer going around. It's FUN. So, to give that up to assuage any sense of guilt or burden of responsibility toward the people who raised me... it just isn't appealing.

Believe me, in having been an only child and having one live in my home, I have put a good deal of thought into how I am going to raise her and treat her, such that she doesn't inherit the same pitfalls of only childhood which I have had over the years. I know that I am "lucky" not to have depression or bipolar disorder, and that I am also very blessed to be a self-sufficient individual. We plan to travel and invite Hootie to join us if she so chooses, during holidays. I think the idea of spending a Christmas with just my husband sounds lovely anyway. But I don't want Hootie to face that same sense of pressure to "entertain" her parents, or to make us feel loved or give us reason for being.

So how did I respond? Well, I told my Mother via email that I appreciated her offer, but we would not be able to come for either Thanksgiving or Christmas. However, if she wanted us to come for one of their birthdays, or in between the holidays, or some other time, we could possibly arrange that. I have yet to hear back, but I'm anticipating another long, unpleasant silent treatment initiated by my ghastly selfishness.

I don't know what I want or expect from this post, other than just to get it out of me. Thanks for reading.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

First Bicycle, Learning to Ride

Some might say that perhaps 3 is too young for a first bicycle, that Hootie ought to be riding a tricycle at this point. Well, PAH, on that. Although the little red flyer tricycle is cute, it is "vintage", is is nostalgic... it isn't Hootie's forte. The diameter of the pedaling circle is so bloody small, it takes MUCH more force to even make the pedals GO, let alone keep pedaling. And it's high up, easily tipping over. She does MUCH better on a bicycle, IMHO. I'm sure the training wheels will be on it for some time, but that's okay. I am dreaming in my head of the day when we can actually all head out on our own bicycles for a family ride. I so remember the beautiful days when the husband and I would hop on the bikes, head downtown, weave through the lovely old buildings and shops and coffeehouses, down to Town Lake, where we would head east toward the little-used section of the lake, past the Holly Street Power Plant, over the bridge at Pleasant Valley, through the parks and back around to the populated section where the joggers and walkers and bikers and dogs and kids all were, creating our obstacle course through to Zilker Park and back around to the downtown area. We'd stop at the Cedar Door for a Mexican Martini and some pubgrub, and head back up toward the house, a little bit wobbly from a long ride and a nice, relaxing margarita. Haven't done that in about 4 1/2 years, sadly. And the child hasn't come along in a baby carrier because a) the husband doesn't like the safety of the bike-mounted carriers, and b) the husband also doesn't like the idea of dragging a child trailer behind the bicycle through downtown. So when the day comes that Hootie's old enough to go do that with us, HALLELUJAH! I will be THRILLED. Usually the initial riding of a bicycle brings on feelings in a mother akin to, "Oh, my little BABY is growing up, she's not a baby anymore!" and all that. I have PLENTY of other things that trigger THAT response, thanks. Bicycling? That will be a delight!

Sunday, January 07, 2007

It's A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

It's stunningly beautiful outside, about 60 degrees and clear and dry. One of the days I dream about all summer when it's 98 and sweltering and humid. We took a lovely walk down on Town Lake this morning and I took a few pictures:

Nothing exciting to report on a Sunday afternoon, just posting pics.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Elaine in Training

This is Hootie, dancing to Shonna's boss Nick playing piano at their party in Driftwood.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy 2007!

This was us, out last night for a delicious dinner with good friends. Happy New Year to everyone!