Friday, November 08, 2013

Can I Google-Map Sleepy's House?

This stupid menopause has me feeling so sleepy all the time I can hardly stand it.  

I slept from 8:30 last night until 6 a.m. today.  It's now 9:55 a.m. and I can hardly hold my eyes open.  It's as though I can feel the hormones draining out of my body.  And here's the kicker...this isn't even the worst part of it yet.  

It's like when you give birth.  My little sister told me to give birth with dignity and not be one of those women who you can hear screaming down the halls.  I vowed to her and to myself not to be that woman.  Then you get in there and the action starts and suddenly it's like holy shit. What the fuck have I done?!  There's no way around what's coming! 

The contractions hit and you work your way through them.  Focal point, breathing, someone there whose hand you're about to break because they offered it and thought they were helping.  Little did they know that the inside of your body has turned into The Terminator with titanium rods and gears and the ability to reshape anvils into rosebuds.

Then you have to start pushing and that's a whole other level of deep, searing pain.  Aside from the commitment I had made to my sister, I didn't scream because you experience so many levels of pain that you don't want to waste a scream on what isn't the worst pain yet.

You push and think it can't get any worse than this, can it? and then you breathe for a second or four and them BAM! you're pushing again and son of a bitch if it didn't get worse. You're lying there completely out of control while your body takes over and does it's thing and you realize it CAN get way worse.  Way, way, way worse and you better hold on because it's coming.

So you stifle the need to cry out.  You breathe and focus knowing that with each push you're getting closer to the end.  You realize that the end is going to be both the worst part in terms of pain and the best part in terms of relief.

Three hours and fifty-six minutes was my labor with Auburn Aries.  I had it easy.  It pays to be tall because giving birth is easier.  Or so they say.  For 3:56 I worked through it and I didn't make a sound.  I spoke when I needed to but I didn't cry out in pain.  

With menopause all these crazy things start happening.  The symptoms you read about but don't know which are going to be your experience start to manifest.  Sadly, I'm not handling this as well as I did labor and delivery.  I feel out of whack.  I hate to complain about what's going on now because there's potentially way worse still ahead.  But dammit, man, this shit sucks!

I spent yesterday afternoon feeling out of sorts.  I finished my work day just fine but within 30 minutes of it I was dragging ass. Not a little.  Full-tilt boogy draggin' ass.   I needed sleep but rather than go lie down and take a nap, I fight it.  I'm not a nap person so it's not something that occurs to me to do.  But I may have to change that.

The problem with that is doing so seems like I'm giving into it.  I should be able to gut it out. 

I've been so lucky so far.  I have friends who are having night sweats and hot flashes.  God knows how I'll complain when/if those hit.  I feel like I'm being a big baby right now but this is just the tip of the iceberg.  I'm not a complainer, I don't ask for help and I always believe things will work out.  BUT THIS SUCKS; SOMEONE HELP ME AND well, things WILL work out so there's that silver lining.

I think what I need to do is acknowledge that I'm going through changes and do whatever I can to take care of myself.  The women I respect who've gone or are going through this aren't really talking about it.  I know we all have different versions of what "normal" is for us individually but hearing other experiences might help.  Goddess knows I'm worst person in the world about taking care of myself or putting myself first.  Pigs might sooner fly out of my ass.  

My reality is these changes are very real and no amount of trying to tough it out or slapping iron to it is going to work.  Rub dirt on it and move along is what I'm saying to myself in my head and my body is pumping the brakes screaming "KNOCK IT OFF AND PAY ATTENTION!  GIVE ME WHAT I NEED OR ALL BETS ARE OFF..."

You know, it's a real kick in the taco if you think about it.  Women are responsible for populating this planet; we're able to give birth pushing something the size of watermelon out of something the size of a garden hose; we bleed one week a month and don't die; we raise children that aren't serial killers, and our reward for being the life source for all things is menopause.  Years and years of it.  

Being a woman isn't a job for the weak.  Just sayin'.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Menopause Can Suck It

That’s right, I said it.  I know women everywhere go through it and it does me no good to complain but it’s not going to stop me from doing exactly that – right here and right now!

A year ago January I went to a woman’s clinic in PDX to see where I was in the process.  Outcome:  we’re all different and there’s no definitive way to tell based on bloodwork whether your pre-menopausal or peri-menopausal (whatever the order is, I forget).  Not at least until you’re done with it. 

A year ago August I missed a period.  Yep, I thought to myself, I’m tip-toeing through the crone’s tulips.  Versus tip-toeing through the crone’s two lips.  Hah, very funny.  Anyhoo…

Something just felt different but I let it go and then in January of this year I went to a different doctor – one that was highly recommended and she said essentially the same thing.  Once you’re there, you’ll know and then we can do something.

In May, June, July, August of this year, no periods.  Well, no real periods.  It was the ‘hey I’m going start’ warning and then nothing.  Then I figured oh well and went on about my business …but no.  No, no.  Wait because maybe it WILL start so while it’s thinking about it and I’m unguarded, let’s ruin some of Marilyn’s boy shorts just to mess with her.  Not enough to warrant a tampon and not enough to go without.  And who thinks to carry pantiliners?  How freaking gross is it not to stop that at the source and to have to deal with it externally?!  It’s hard to change 36 years of thinking.

In those four months, I learned to stop viewing it as wasting a tampon and just accept that during this transition those damn things are still serving their purpose - albeit not to their “full” potential.  Get it?  Full?  Full tamp---- never mind.  You get it.   I could still play tennis, swim, and do backflips on a balance beam and not have to worry about leakage.

Then September rolls around.  The warning bell rings and I’m ready for it.  Armed with a new box of Playtex Sport unscented in one hand and a package of Carefree acti-fresh body shape pantiliners in the other.  Suddenly I’m Tom Hanks in Splash after he discovers the mermaid split and he’s in a hurry to go find her.  I’ve hit the button for both elevators which are across the hall from one another and I’m bouncing back and forth, light on my feet, ready to spring into action.

What’s it gonna be?  Come on.   Show yourself, you scheming bitch – you can’t take me down!    “You tell ‘em I’m comin’, you hear me?  I’m comin’… and Hell’s comin’ with me!  You hear?!  Hell’s. comin’. with. me!!!”

Yeah, I know.  I just mixed two movie references.  What can I say…I’m menopausal.  I’m lucky I remember my own freakin’ name at this point.

Moving along.  So here I am armed and ready exasperatingly rolling my eyes but not mentally screaming anymore about what I perceive as wasteful.  Never mind the removal of said barely used gear (ouch).  The thing about all this will-there-or-won’t-there be a cycle is it’s been so flaky and sketchy that my mind has already moved over to wanting to forget all about it.  I mean, do we really need to drag this out?  Let me just check the box that says I no longer need my uterus and let’s shut this bitch down.

I’m so sick of waiting for this process to wrap up.  Have a cycle; don’t have a cycle.  WHATEVER…JUST DECIDE!!  DO SOMETHING!!!  This perpetual state of waiting and wondering is making me crazy.  And the worst part is it’s only just started!   I’ve got stuff to do already.  Get on with it.

I don’t wait well.  I’m like my Dad that way.  When I say I’m ready to go that doesn’t mean go finish getting ready.  It means I’m headed to the car right now and you’re ass better be in it or you can go next time.  Stop lights in San Diego.  Longest freaking lights on earth.  Seriously?  I know Second Street is a main vain but do I have to be sitting on a cross street on the waiting end of that deal every single time? 

I have zero patience right now.  And the rage.  Oh my hell, the rage.  I just want to cut a bitch.  Poor Auburn Aries.  She doesn't even say anything in the car anymore.  She hears me muttering under my breath like a crazy person about to snap and she just quietly sits there in the passenger seat shaking her head.  It’s worst when I’m behind bad drivers.  Good gawd, man, just move it already.  It’s that pedal on the right!   Stand on it before I ram you with my car. 

As a woman you hear of menopause from an early age.  Then when you hit your 40’s you hear more and more horror stories from other women who’ve experienced it you’re like yep, I’m slowly getting there.  Outwardly you may seem dismissive because you aren’t there yet (smile, nod your head as other women speak of it) but internally you’re like Elaine Benes screaming in her head on the stuck subway.  You’re like “HOTFLASHES?!  RAGE?!   A DRY GOODIE BOX?!  WHAT THE HELL?!?!   You secretly mutter to yourself how that’s not going to happen to you and you hope and pray it’s different for you.

But then by 45 you realize that time moves at warp speed and slowly getting there means you’re dancing on the razor’s edge and then low and behold the day comes and you admit to yourself and those close to you that you haven’t seemed yourself and they’re all too quick to agree and then a cycle is missed and all those things you heard are racing through your mind.  You tell yourself it’s a rite of passage and how lucky you are as a woman to experience such a beautiful experie….

Nah.  Eff that.  I’m not in a state of acceptance.  It’s the secrets I need.  It’s the ‘here’s how I dealt with it’ and ‘this helps’ and ‘try this’.  Enough of the stories about how terrible it is.  Just tell me your secrets. Goddess knows counting to 10 isn't working anymore.  

Who thinks to carry pantiliners?  Yeah, don’t ask. 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Full Circle

Last night I was sitting in my Mustang waiting on Auburn Aries who’d run into a restaurant to pick up soup following some dental work.  I had backed into a spot with a view of the restaurant doors, had the motor running and had the dog on my lap.  I was listening to KGB FM when Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers blast their way into my car with American Girl.  One of my all-time favorite songs. 

I turned it up.  I have a great stereo system with dual amps and expensive high-end mid-range speakers with a 10” sub-woofer built into the sidewall of my trunk, so when I say turned it up I don’t mean like those people with coffee can mufflers whose license plate covers rattle.  I mean I turned it up and took it in - like a sommelier appreciating the complex bouquet of the finest wine.  It doesn't have to be crazy loud to sound amazing.  Tom and the boys were right there in the car with me and suddenly I found myself overcome with a wave of nostalgia.  And pride.  And accomplishment. 

All this from one song, you say?  Why, yes, from one song, indeed. 

I am a fan of classic rock.  Born in ‘63 I had the privilege of completely enjoying the 70’s.  The music was so great.  Growing up in San Diego was a gift my parents had no idea they were giving us kids.  Being in high school in the 70’s, dating a bass player named Tracy Wright, being immersed in what was the rock of that decade, living in a place like San Diego with the sun and surf and vibe; it was amazing.  

The song stirred something in me.  I sat there and thought to myself I LIVE IN SAN DIEGO AGAIN!  I’M HOME!!! 

I did it.  I am no longer in rainy Oregon thinking about how much I want to be home.  I am home.  

For 24 years I lived somewhere I did not call home.  Stop for a moment and think about what that feels like.  I had jobs and friends – really great best friends that I consider my family – but still there was an underlying sense of impermanence.  Like I was waiting for something. 

I sat there in my bad ass car listening to this bad ass song on my bad ass stereo on an 80° sunny evening with my kid and my dog and I felt blessed.  I did an incredibly brave thing.  After 24 years in Oregon and with a family I didn't have when I moved there, I decided and planned and implemented a move to another state.  I did it all by myself.  I’m a single parent. It’s just me.   All my friends had moved away.  I saved and I cut corners and I did it.  I loaded a 26’ Penske and put my car on a flatbed trailer, secured it and hit the road. 

I came home.

I was scared but I did it. 

I sat there in my car overcome with pride and thankfulness and satisfaction.  I made it.  My memories of the 70’s – of sunny carefree days and great music and living in moment – I felt that again.  I’d come full circle. 

Yes, there are always sunny days here but they are not carefree.  Now I’m 50 and I have a 16 year old who faces her own personal struggles (some of which I can relate to and some I cannot so helping is hit and miss on its best day); the music that was once the center of my Universe is now considered classic rock; and living in the moment means making considerations like my bank account and the long term effect of spontaneity. 

But under the extra Oregon weight I’m working to shed and under the fact that I didn't rent our dream home while the dust settles from such a big move, lives a woman who’s still a bad ass.  I am strong and funny and brave and fearless when it comes to the stuff that counts.

I’m still me and I’m home.

Monday, June 10, 2013

A Lot to Think About

A move is a lot to handle.  It’s a lot by ordinary standards but you factor in pulling up roots and relocating your family to a different state 1100 miles away, a work transfer, the planning, the cleaning out of the garage, going through and tossing paperwork, making lists, making calls, trying to be as cost effective as humanly possible, thinking and rethinking timelines, praying the kid’s going to be alright, praying the move is the right thing to do – it’s a lot for one person to manage.

These are the times I wish I had a better half.  Maybe someone who’s Type-A mixed in with some OCD.  That’d be the way to go right there! 

But alas, that’s not the case.  Instead, it’s me, Type-… what’s the opposite of Type-A?   I haven’t studied it enough to be able to tell you.  All I know is if the dishes sit in the sink overnight, I don’t sweat it; and if I pay a late fee for paying my car insurance on the 8th rather than on the 1st, they’ll get over it.  It all works out in the end.

This time, however, I need to really get, and keep, my shit together.  Flying by the seat of my pants is fine, but more than anything I want this move to go off without a hitch.  I need to plan, stay on track, expect challenges but don’t freak out when a challenge arises, and know that I just have to keep pushing forward.  When moving day comes, I want everything to be ready – no last minute clutter on the kitchen counter; no throwing last minute shit into a box to sort out later. 

We’re down to 45 days now and it’s getting real.  I can’t keep up with housework AND preparing to move.  I have a kid I can’t get to engage and help out.  “You’re not helping.  I need your help.  Pick a chore and just do it.”  At this point any little bit will help.  It’s like in The Breakup with Vince Vaughn and Jennifer Aniston.  “I want you to want to do dishes.”  “Nobody WANTS to do dishes.” 

Trust me.  I get it.

Because there’s no partner with whom to bounce ideas, Auburn Aries gets to hear it and she is sick of it.  She actually asked me the other day if we could NOT talk about San Diego for one day. 
Oops.  I’ve now taken to keeping it all to myself for the most part.  If not, then I might as well discuss finances to the nth degree, too.  I'm sure she'd love that about as much as grinding out details for the move.

Right now my focus is cleaning out 10 or 20 years of useless paperwork.  Those employee evaluations from 2000; the loan docs from the three houses I’ve bought and sold living up here; that joke someone in the office handed me before emailing them was the way to go.  Yes, it’s that bad.  Scoff if you will, but you’ve got it too.  I’m transforming what I own from complacent pack rat to lean urban living. 

The big push right now is because June 15th is free shred day in Portland otherwise I’ll be paying .79 a pound and paper is freaking heavy.  So between now and Friday night, I need to get through the closet in the office and around 5 boxes in the garage.  I mean how the hell did this much stupid shit accumulate.  Did I really need to save the benefits pamphlet from three companies ago?  Just kill me now!  So. fucking. monotonous. 

Once the paperwork part is done, I’ll finish the garage.  That won’t take much time.  After that it’s boxes and packing up this house.  It’s all getting tightly packed, marked, and staged in the front living room.  The day the movers get here, with any luck, I’ll just be directing traffic.  A girl can dream.    Oh and by directing traffic I mean then cleaning afterward, then waiting while the carpet cleaner guy does his thing; then the walk through with the landlord; then after THAT finally crashing in a hotel overnight to head out at morning light.

Yep, it’s all just a walk in the park.  So uneventful I should really skip.  My chest is sufficiently aching from stress now.  I should probably stop.  Thank goodness no one reads my blog anymore.  I can vent in here and no one gives a shit.  My blog is my sounding board.  Thanks, old friend.


Monday, March 11, 2013

The Jones' Should Keep Up With Me!

With this summer’s move to San Diego, I’ve realized just how much stuff I need to get rid of in my garage.  I moved to the Pacific Northwest with a duffel bag and a suitcase.  Over the last 23 years, I’ve accumulated “stuff”.  Too much stuff.  What you gather as a single person varies greatly to what you hang onto as a mother. 

When you’re first starting out in life you collect stuff.  You think it’s cool and it gives you something to talk about.  You think it makes you interesting.  Before moving to the PNW, I collected old Singer Sewing machines, all in working condition.  My Mom sewed everything on her old Singer and without intending to and before I knew it, I had accumulated six or eight of the damn things. I’d see one at a garage sale or swap meet and feel compelled to give it a good home.  I got rid of the sewing machines before I left San Diego.

Fast forward through a baby, a divorce, and more than two decades living here and you’ll find half of my two car garage is boxes and totes.  There’s the camping gear that I bought and used once.  There are computers that I built that were old technology before I even had a chance to use them.  There are baby clothes that I can’t bring myself to get rid of.    

The list goes on and on.  It’s exhausting to think about. 

Three years ago it was worse.  It was children’s books and DVDs and dolls and toys that Aries would never use or watch again (from which our neighbor’s young girls benefited).  There was stuff that I’d moved several times and had no intention of ever using.  I spent two days going through the garage.  I took seven small truckloads to Goodwill.  Seriously.  Seven.

I thought I had it down to a manageable level but when I called Mayflower for an estimate, I about shit myself.  “You want how much to move my stuff to San Diego?!?!”   I took a good, long look at that garage.  I actually stood in the driveway, hands on my hips, just looking at it. 

I perused online home rentals in Dago to see what I’d be able to afford.  At first I was disappointed.  It would be good-bye gourmet kitchen and fully fenced 10,000 sf lot of beautiful grass.  In the last five years I’ve downgraded house size from a 3000 sf house to 2400 to 2100 to 1810 to happily land in a 1510 sf house all in the name of the Great Recession and my need to simplify.  With 3000 square feet comes a $2100 mortgage.  With 1510 comes $1200 rent. 

Where we’ll land in San Diego is yet unknown.  We’ll stay with my Bestie for a month while we search for a place but I’ve come to accept that there may or may not be a garage to store all my nonsense.  I went from being bummed to realizing this may prove to be liberating. 

We’ll be in sunshine and outside doing things, not stuck in the house for nine months of clouds and 40” of rain a year.  We’ll wake up to blue skies and walking the dog means not needing to time it between rain showers.   Rather than live a house with a yard I have to pay the gardener to tend, I could live in a three bedroom apartment with a pool and a gym. 

Suddenly all that shit in the garage that once meant so much I had to keep it, is now a ball and chain.  I’ll still keep the important things like Auburn Aries first rocking chair but I suspect that once I start the purging this weekend a lot more will go than I expected initially.

Not that I needed validation to get this chore done, simply getting rid of a bunch of stuff I no longer use and that I’m not willing to pay to move, was enough.  But I ran across this article today and not only did it give me pause for the cause but it helped me in a way I didn’t expect. 

I often times get jealous of my friends who appear to have it all.  They post on Facebook about how perfect their lives are and include pictures of their remodel or the inside of their houses and I realize how nice it would have been to have dual income these last 14 years to have acquired some of those nice things.  I look around my house I don’t have much but what I have matters to me.  I lean toward being a minimalist anyway.  You won’t find knick knacks or kitsch or excessive crap on my walls.  I like simple, open spaces.

But reading that article helped me squelch some of the ‘I wish I had’ and put it into ‘I have all I need’ perspective.  Some people like to live in one house forever.  I like to live in different places.  I tend to fly by the seat of my pants, albeit a little less because I’m raising Auburn Aries and she needs to feel grounded.  But I’m cool wherever I’m at because I know it’s exactly where I’m supposed to be. 

This summer when the movers back up to my garage, they’ll be there a fraction of what they would have been and when I unpack my place wherever it may be, it’ll be with a lot less baggage.  Figuratively and literally.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Fingernail Faux Pas

Trixie goes nearly everywhere with Auburn Aries and I.  So long as we’re not getting out of the car, she’s welcome to go with us.  Trixie has separation anxiety so leaving her in the car to, say, run into the little market down the street is a no-go.  In fact, the first time I did it, she peed on my seat in my Mustang. 

She can be left in the house on her own just fine, although you don’t want to leave the trashcan out or leave a package of Oreos on the coffee table with five cookies in it.  We made this revelation a month after we got her.  She was one and half; we were na├»ve. 

She’s a long-hair Jack Russell mix (with Dachsund, I believe) and her energy is higher than any dog I’ve had before.  She’s a good dog, but I should have Googled that breed before we adopted her.  Not sure it would have made a difference in adopting her but I’d have been better informed.

Trixie does get me out of the house for walks and working from home full-time feels like you never leave your house some days.
While riding in the car a few days ago, I noticed in the side mirror that her nails had gotten long again.  Over the past year, she’s really grown to trust me.  She was found as a stray in LA and I believe the people who owned her before were mean to her.  Especially the man in her life.  She hates men.  Auburn Aries and I joke about her being a man-hating lesbian.

Anyway, cutting her nails myself took time and trust.  It wasn’t the same as cutting Sugarbear’s Chihuahua nails.   That took less than a minute.  So a couple nights ago, I laid her on her back on the couch and I’m talking to her and I’m rubbing her belly in between paws and things are clipping moving along fine when I move to her back paw. 

I clip the first nail fine.  I’m just taking off the very tips, no real length to speak of.  I line up and clip the second nail and she yiped and pulled away.  I see blood on her foot instantly. 

I scoop her up and hold her close to me.  She’s trembling and nuzzled as close to my neck and she can get.  I wrapped a napkin that was on the coffee table around her foot try to sooth her.  I had hurt our little baby.  She trusted me and I messed up.   

I’d never cut a dog’s nails to the quick before.  I’ve always been so careful not to.  I called out for Auburn Aries and asked her to bring her laptop.  While I was hugging the dog and crying, she was Googling what to do.  Trixie’s nail wouldn’t quit bleeding.  I couldn’t understand why it was bleeding so badly.  I knew I hadn’t cut too much off her nail but obviously something happened.

Aries read that if you take baking powder and dip the nail into it.  It’ll stop the bleeding immediately.  Which we did, and it did.  Not directly into the container, mind you, but into a small bowl. Trixie trembled and trembled and I cried and cried. 

The downside was if she went outside to pee, the wet grass would dissolve the baking powder and the bleeding would start again.  I didn’t have a Styptic stick, nor did I know what that even was until a coworker told me about it the next day.  In fact, Aries discovered the type specifically for dogs so you can dip their nail into it.  I’ll have to make sure to keep one around for next time.

Hopefully there won’t ever be a next time.

It was a long night that night.  I’ve since had a chance to look at the nail.  As it turns out the nail was split.  When I cut it, it split it further back to the bleeding point.

It doesn’t eliminate the guilt but I think I’ll keep my day job and stick to what I know. 

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

I'm Sorry. That Scale Said What?!

Auburn Aries and I joined a local Biggest Loser group that runs from January 15 - May 7th.  I thought it would be a great way to reach some goals with like-minded people.  Living in the PNW with nine months of rain, it can force you indoors when you otherwise wouldn't be.  As long as I've lived here and integrated the rain into my life (no, I don't own an umbrella; only tourists do), I am not one of those people who'll go running or biking in it.  I'm more the lazy type who looks outside and sees it blowing sideways, rolls her eyes and says "maybe tomorrow."

Following a discrimination lawsuit a few years back, I spiraled into a depression that reached far and wide.  I've written about it before - at least I think I have.  There's not much I can say about it as I'm legally bound to secrecy over it (like anyone gives a shit.  And, lawyer people, if you're reading this, you can move along.  You're not worthy of my time and you won't get any tasty morsels here).

Following that suit and the sense of betrayal that came with it, I tried to eat (and mostly) drink my way out of it. I thought I was perfecting my Margarita-making skills.  Turns out I was drowning betrayal.  Although as a byproduct I did get damn good at making Maggies.

I didn't realize how deeply it would all affect me.  I didn't know what to expect when you go up against The Man.  BTW, I don't recommend it.  A bank of lawyers that size can spin absolutely anything any way they want to.  As a result and after lingering in the darkness around five years, I awoke to find a spare tire around my midsection.  My long legs were shortened by a heavy ass and my biceps, which I love, were completely hidden.

About the time I realized that somewhere in the darkness I had just simply bought a bigger waste size in my Levi's, all of us techs (storage engineers, Unix engineers, etc) were told the office was relocating and we would not be given cubes.  We'd all be working from home.  I'd never worked from home before.  We were all excited.  That was June 2008.

It's four and a half years later and my longest commute is to the kitchen.

If you add telecommuting to a bout of situational depression, you have a woman whose muscles have been in a long slumber.  You have a woman who's 49 years old (50 on March 5th) who's covering the gray now and not at the top of her game.  When Auburn Aries and I go shopping, people look at my 15 year old and don't even notice me.  Kudos to her for being so beautiful but shame on me for not keeping myself in the shape I deserve to be in.

Well, no more.  I started working with Kaelyn Pehrson (heretofore referred to as KP) who owns Naturally Obsessed.  She's helped introduce healthy eating into my life.  I now drink green smoothies made with kale when not six months ago I swore I'd never eat it because it was a plant I grew in my flowerbeds for curb appeal.  I'm trying to adapt her 90/10 rule where I fuel my body with good nutritious whole foods 90% of the time so the other 10% there's a little flexibility.  Granted I'm not to 90% yet.  I'm probably more at 70/30 but that's okay, too.  Six months ago I was at 5/95!

Now I hit the cancel button on negative thoughts (a work in process as well) and try to focus on only the positive.  I'm getting better at self-love and forgiveness and moving forward toward healthier goals.  I know the methods I'm learning now, slowly, are in fact lifestyle changes.  No fad diet, no hurrying to get the extra weight off and then gaining it back but baby-stepping to build a healthier me from the inside out.

Mentally I feel great.  Physically I feel a world better.  I'm not constipated as much.  I have energy I didn't have before.  I can no longer sit in front of the TV for mindless hours in the evening without the thought popping into my head that it's not conducive to who I want to be.  Not that I don't watch my favorite sitcoms or dramas.  I do.  But I record them for later when I can watch them commercial-free and at my convenience.  Instead of sitting there, I get up and do something:  a chore, go through a box in the garage, read a book, work out, walk the dog.

I love who I'm becoming.  I love that the blinds are no longer closed on my mind and my spirit.  Along with that however, is now my realization that the number on the scale doesn't reflect how I'm feeling inside.  To date I've not worried about the number on the scale.  I've put so much emphasis on that in the past that I decided temporarily in the initial phases of working with Kaelyn, not to step on it.  Instead I'd integrate the easy-to-follow steps KP provides and get some focus.  There was a lot of banged up mental processes in my mind that needed to be stripped and refinished.

While I'm not exactly where I want to be quite yet, I can accept that this is a journey and I can now enjoy the road I'm on and not look at the gaps as character defects or flaws.  It's like I was on a path that had been neglected.  I had been walking it accepting that it was in sad shape and in disarray.  The flowers were hunched and brown, the grass was overgrown and untended; the path cracked and dangerous.

But now after working with KP, the cracks in my sidewalk have been replaced with brick pavers (one at a time and worth it) and there's sunlight beaming down and flowers are starting to bloom.  The grass is tended and inviting.  I know it sounds all new-agey, hokus-pokus but I've had a complete change of heart.  I didn't know I could and I couldn't be happier about what I'm learning.  There's still plenty to go.  It's a long path but the journey is great and I'm not in a hurry to get to the finish line and prove anything. 

All that being said, however, I do feel I'm at the point I need to give the scale some attention.  Thus, Biggest Loser, local version.  While this version of Biggest Loser provides nothing in the way of diet or exercise (that's all on me) it will make me accountable for stepping on the scale each week and tracking my progress.  It will get me writing in my food journal.  And although I'm not in it for the prizes, if that happens then that's cool, too.

I filled out my card with my username, stepped over to have my before picture taken and then headed toward the scale.  I knew the scale wasn't going to be my friend but I didn't care.  The only thing I cared about was the fact that I was about to unbutton the first button on the lawsuit/work-from-home fat suit I've been wearing the last five or six years.  My sedentary life will finally be over.

I stepped on the scale and glanced down at the number as I stepped off and tried to act all cool like, "eh, I knew it was going to be higher than I wanted and it's okay.  No shock here."  What I wanted to do was lean down at the scale and scream "WHAT THE FUCK?!  HOW DID THIS HAPPEN???  WHO DID THIS TO YOU?!"  But I couldn't.  Even if I had, I knew the answer. 

What I could do was own the fact that I'd let myself get to this place.  For a while I was lost - my self-awareness (something I pride myself on) vanished.  I'd lost my way.  But those times are gone.

Don't get me wrong...I'm not so evolved I looked at the scale and had some Zen moment where I thanked the fat for making me the person I've become.  Oh no.  I cursed a mean streak in my head that was truck-stop worthy but not because I was beating myself up.  I gave myself a moment to be disappointed that I'd let it happen and then stubbornness kicked as I muttered at the scale "I'll show you motherf-cker."

Nothing left but the sweating and discomfort while I wake those muscles up.  To be honest, I don't know when I've look forward to anything more.

Let's get it on!

Friday, January 11, 2013

When Did You Learn Japanese?

It's not that my daughter knows Japanese, but she might as well have. Suddenly it's like she and I are speaking two different languages.

It's official:  I've hit that stretch of relationship with my daughter where she repeats the following words at me like a mantra and declares during every conversation I try to communicate with her "you're not listening to me" and  "you don't understand."

This should be simple.  I set the rules and the expectations and she meets them the first time I ask and at a minimum with no more than one reminder.  Puhlease.  It was simpler to put a fucking man on the moon. 

I was reading an article online in Psychology Today entitled Teens and Parents in Conflict.  They pretty much summed it up:

"There's no point in talking to you: you don't understand me. You don't even know me."

"A teen spits these words at a parent, who is hurt and outraged. How can her own child say these things? She's worked hard to know her own child, learning to read his feelings from voice and gesture, learning to place his words in the context of his day-to-day life. How can her own child now say to her, "You don't know who I really am.""

"Nothing shakes a parent's confidence as much as the onset of a son's or daughter's adolescence. The communication that flowed easily, with words, glances and touch, becomes a minefield."

A minefield.  What an accurate description. While brushing my teeth before bed last night, I was thinking about her online high schooling.  Aries switched schools seven weeks into the semester and has had to make up that seven weeks (since online school works at a different pace) so she's been doing twice the work this semester. 

The problem is while she was good out of the gate, the last month she has been off.  Way off.  Granted the winter break fell in there but our agreement was take one of the two weeks off and work the second week.  She took week one off and couldn't get her motor started in week two.  And prior to the holidays she'd been sputtering.

She had been communicating her hours and I was logging attendance and approving assignments but it turned into trying to figure out how many hours she worked because she took so many breaks (breakfast, then a long bio break, then lunch, then whatever other distraction she could pile on).  Being her learning coach turned into policing.  It was a constant stream of reminders to get her assignments done, get your required number of hours in, stay focused, turn that TV off.

The agreement before online school was that since this was online school and not home school, she needed to carry her load and get the work done without putting me in the position to have to dog her to get it done.  Be the young adult that she is and be responsible.  I'm a parent, I knew that there would still be reminding and dogging but at fifteen and a half years old and this being an alternative to attending Bully Central High School, I was hoping she'd realize this was a privilege and get it done.

The girl who wanted to achieve her AA concurrently while in online school (which is possible with online school) has now become the girl who can't focus; a girl who's lost the fire in her belly.

When I walked into her room last night after brushing my teeth, it was to talk to her in a way that was heartfelt.  To share with her in two or three simple, loving sentences of where I was at with online schooling.  Nothing complicated or bitchy.  Which I did.

It was met with exasperated sighs, eye rolls, and being told over and over that I don't understand; that I'm not listening.  We continue the conversation as she tries to explain that she's been doing better this week (she was at here Dad's Saturday through Wednesday and only did the number of assignments due for one day) and it's not fair that I'm not recognizing her work.

I try to explain the end of the semester is coming and the number of assignments she has to turn in daily is non-negotiable and that she needs to stay on track.  She tells me I don't trust her to get it done.  Well, no, based on evidence and her track record as of late, I can't "trust" that it will get done.  I explain that I can't wait until the 11th hour too see if she stays true to her word.  I have to, as her learning coach, communicate with her daily about her school work and do everything I can to ensure she's successful.  Then she reminded me again I wasn't listening and didn't understand.

'Round and 'round we go, where we stop, nobody knows.

I end up in tears because I'm doing all this with no support trying to do the best I can.  I'm the only parent working to give her everything she needs and all I'm asking her do is meet her commitments.  She's crying because she's misunderstood and every word I'm speaking to her is somehow being translated into her mind that she's a fuck up who can't get it right.

Going back to that Psychology Today article:

"Arguments with parents can often be understood in this context. While those common teenager/parent quarrels, which explode every few days, are, at a superficial level, about curfews, homework, housework, and respect, a teenager's real focus is on a parent's acknowledgement of his maturity and capability and human value. "No, you can't go out tonight," cuases more than a glitch in a teen's social diary; it implies that a parent doesn't trust him to make his own decisions. And, in a teen's eyes, that's not only unfair; it's humiliating. Even apparently minor exchanges can trigger major reactions, making a parent feel that "everything I say is wrong!" A parent asks a checking-up question, and the teen feels like a little child again. "Have you got your keys?" and, "Do you have enough money for the bus?" are loaded with the implication, "You're not able to look after yourself." These questions would be easily tolerated if uttered by a concerned friend, but from a parent they pinch on a teen's own doubts. Feeling threatened by the kid who can't remember to take his lunch, his keys or his money, he blames the parent for reminding him of the child-self still residing within him."

So let me get this straight.  A teenager's real focus is on a parent's acknowledgement of his maturity and capability and human somehow I have to figure out a way to say "get your work done" all while not making her not feel less than for following up.  If he "blames the parent for reminding him of the child-self still residing within him" how then do I broach these issues.  It's my job to get Aries ready for the outside world; to get her ready to fly on her own which means we practice at home until she's ready to go out into the world.  I just can't ask her to do something again or do better or push harder because it'll upset her?!?!

Everyone says parenting is the hardest job they've ever had.  But for right now pretend I've pulled my chair around right in front of you and I'm knee-to-knee with you I've take her hands and I'm leaning in and looking unblinkingly into your eyes.  Can you picture it?  Now hear me when I say, it's the hardest fucking job you'll ever, EVER have.  Take the toughest job or thing you've ever had or done and multiply it times ten thousand.  There's no rule book.  There are no easy answers.  You literally guess until you get it right.  IF you get it right.  It's frustrating and makes you want to pull your hair out in patches. And just when you think you've got it figured out, BAM! your kid becomes a sullen, snarky teenager who stays in her room and can hardly stand you. The pisser is I have a really great kid so imagine my shock and horror when the tide changed.

Oh yeah, it's rewarding too.  Blah blah blah.  This post isn't about that. 

Somewhere there lies an answer to all of this.  It's going to be up to me to learn how to cope with this and alter the way I deal with her keeping they "why she's behaving this way" in the back of my mind.  It's a good thing women are more evolved than men because I'll tell you right now, she'd never get her father to put in the time I am.  He'd stay pissed and throw his hands in the air. 

It's no wonder teens go off the reservation.  There's this delicate web of complexity that if you don't pay attention to it, you're kid will end up on Dr. Phil talking about how she was a truck-stop hooker with a heroine addiction giving blowies for a pack of smokes.

I hope if she heard anything I said last night it's that a.) I am proud of her and that b.)  sometimes we have to take our own inventory and be honest about what we're doing and that c.) if you put in the required hours and do the work then no one can say anything to you.  There's beauty in that last one.  It keeps the boss off your back, you stay under the radar, and you come across like a superstar that always gets it done.

In the meantime, I'll stay on my quest for answers.  Or patience.  Goddess knows without either one of those two I'll be buying my plane to see the good Dr.!


Tuesday, January 08, 2013

Alone On A Raft

I feel like I'm out here floating on a raft by myself.  I feel invisible.  I'm working through the logistics and finances for moving to San Diego and I've no one to bounce it off of.  It's not that I need someone around for that but I'd like to air it out sometimes to see if I'm missing anything.

Of course, Auburn Aries is just waiting for me to give the word.  She'd have her shit packed and in the car before I finished the sentence.  She's as ready for an adventure as I am.

Even more important than the logistics, is how nice it would be to be able to share my excitement, and my fear.  We're moving.  I'm not vacillating.  But it would be really nice to talk about the moments I have when I frantically ponder and hope and need hear it from someone else just to keep me sane.

I talked with my sister yesterday who pointed out that I've become Howard Hughes - a recluse who never leaves her house.  Granted when Hot Toddy moved and then Do Rag moved and then Golden Boy moved and then TJ moved, and then other long standing friendships whittled down the list of friends with whom I socialize.  I went a nearly a full decade hanging out with the same group of people and I loved it.  Wouldn't have changed it for the world.  And then it changed on its own.

With everyone scattering to four corners, I was left behind to deal with the ghosts of friendships past.  It was so hard being the one who was left behind.  God it was hard.  It took a while for the physical absence to be replaced with phone calls but even now in a situation where I'm planning a move this big, I've got time zones to deal with from Hawaii to Virginia to Minnesota and it isn't easy to get the shoulder to lean on when I need it.  I can't just pick up the phone and scream "how am I going to get all this shit done and be ready to move in July?!?!"  I have to plan those conversation which takes the passion out of the moment at which point I arrive at 'why bother, I'll just take care of it anyway since there's no choice so why bother anyone anyway' and then the "Raft Reality" hits again and BAM! I'm a little sad and a little lonely.

I've tried to make new friends.  I've tried to penetrate other circles of friends where I have acquaintances.   People are used to what they're used to, you know?  When all the smoke clears, I don't end up getting invited to the barbeque or the cocktail hour or the baby shower.  And that's okay.  It's a little sad and frustrating but it's okay.  I was the same way with my group of friends.  We were snobs about letting anyone into our circle.  What we had worked and it was a no-weirdo zone.  Maybe I'm the weirdo.

But I digress.  Of course what I do know is I will get it all done because I have to, that's reality.  I will figure it all out because that's what I do and when the time comes, I may have to get by with a little help from my friends.  After I pick up the phone and ask for it of course. 

I don't know what the future holds for me and my little family.  I know I'm not going back to the same San Diego I left 23 years ago. But I need to take a risk.  I need to put myself out there and shake things up.  I'm praying the sense of home that's deep-seeded inside of me sings from the mountaintops once I get there.  The brown, brown mountaintops.  I want to wake up to sunshine and be able to walk the dog without immediately mopping the hardwoods after we come back in.  I'd love to not go through towels because I'm drying the damn dog off.

Mostly...I want to be able to call my best girlfriends, Pua or Cathy, and drive over to see them.  I'm looking forward to the call where they say they're going to pick up Auburn Aries to go shopping or have lunch just because they want to spend time with her.  I want Aries to feel what it's like to hang out with her "Aunts" because she's never really known what that's like.

I may have days where I want to "shout out at the ocean, 'HEY IT'S ME'" but I know deep down I'll be alright.  For many of my friends I may be out of sight but I know I'm not out of mind.  I know I can call and they still love me. 

As for that raft, sometimes I may forget there's an oar attached to the side and sometimes I may not like having to use it only during the scheduled hours of availability.  I'm just grateful there is one.  Hard days or not, I'm grateful for what and who I do have in my life and I have to not let my whining  moments get in the way of remembering that.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Dago Bound

I'm going home.  I've decided to move back home to San Diego.  I've lived in the Pacific Northwest for 23 years and although it's beautiful up here and Portland has a distinctive vibe which I find wonderfully appealing, I can't stand the rain anymore. If there were just three more months of decent weather; say three months of spring or three months of fall, I'd probably stay.

For me, Portland is what San Diego was.  It's got this chilled, laid back way about it.  It's diverse and welcoming and people are friendly not to mention how absolutely beautiful it is here.  It will be hard to leave and I know I'll shed more than a tear when I pull out of town. 

I moved here when I was 26 so essentially although I was born and raised in San Diego, I'd only lived there as an adult from ages 17-26.  I've lived 23 years of my adult life here.  This is what I've come to know.

You'd think based on what I've said already that staying up here would have more pull.  But nine months of gray and clouds and rain is a lot.  We had 50" of rain in 2012.  The fourth wettest year in history.  It's too much.  Night after night I sit in my livingroom and shake my head and ask myself what the fuck I'm doing.

The other reason I'm going home is I have a support system back home that I don't have here.  I don't have any close friends here.  I know hundreds of people a large part of which I consider friends but they aren't people who call to see how I'm doing or to see if I'd like to go have coffee.  They don't ask how Auburn Aries is doing.  They don't understand or care about the struggles of being a single parent.  No one with whom to wax poetic all things parental; the highs and lows.  There is no shoulder to cry upon, no one to tell me I'm doing a good job.  Or a shitty one for that matter.

Most of my chosen family has moved away in search of work (successfully I might add).  My sister, Skinny Girl, moved to the midwest in November.  The only sister and brother I have left up here couldn't give two shits less about me.   They've never approved of my life or the way I live it.  I don't kowtow to their opinions and judgment and it pisses them off.  They've never appreciated that I march to the beat of a different drummer.  I don't fit in their box and that makes me an anomaly which is unacceptable to them.  Apparently it still pisses me off because I'm still talking about it.  ARGH!

Moving back home I have access again to female friends that are my age and have kids and get it. They are women I love and respect and have something in common with.  Plus I can give Aries an adventure.  Let her see what that many consecutive sunny days feels like.  Or what barbequing on Thanksgiving feels like.  I want to be able to show her around my home town and give her some options.  She wants to go to college in SoCa anyway so this makes her a resident.

So now the thoughts are all consuming.  Movers vs. UHaul vs. POD.  Stay with friends for a couple weeks while I find a place or trust someone else to pick it for me?  What do I want to keep that's stored in the garage vs. what needs to find its way to Goodwill. 

There are a lot of variables, but there's one thing I'm sure of:  I've not felt this happy about a decision I've made in a long, long time.  I haven't taken a risk on anything in years.  I've just been going through the motions day in and day out.  This time it's for me.  And it's for enriching Auburn Aries' life.  Cost of living is more and we may struggle but by Goddess, I'll give it everything I've got.