Monday, June 30, 2008

T-minus three hours until my mom arrives.

Current mood: OPTIMISTIC

I love my mom but the last few times we have seen each other it has been kind of...tense. I can't quite put my finger on why but I think it has something to do with me not knowing how to be a grown up around my parents. Like they are stuck in the role of parent while I am stuck in the role of child and we're all just sitting around feeling awkward not knowing what to do about it. Thank God we have Liam to look at; otherwise, what would we do?

My sister does not have this problem. She and my parents kind of get each other.

Heh.

I guess the good thing about that is it gives me hope. Thanks to her I know it's possible to forge ahead without our roles and find a way to build a really great relationship as adults. If she can do it, I can do it! After all, I am the smart one (OK, OK, I used to be the smart one. Damn.)

I want to treat this visit as a test. A perfect opportunity to put everything I've been reading and learning about into play. Will what I put out really come back to me like the law of attraction says it will? Will I be able to consistently put out good things (like honesty, compassion, and respect) or will I fall helplessly back into the roles I've perfected? Will I be able to be the conscious space that allows my mom to be who she is without judging her or putting up defenses. Is it really possible to be that Zen?

Perhaps I should have started smaller. Like with the checker at Home Depot last night? When he started blabbing on about some customer who pissed him off and ruined his whole day, I could have gone to my happy place and been non-judgmental but instead I clenched my jaw and thought, "Dude, when I said, 'Fine, how are you?' I was just being polite. I don't care how you are. Just ring up my damn plants and shut up already!" I could have been the conscious space for him. That would have probably been a better place to start than with my mom.

But, alas, I am out of time for practice. She is on her way and I am determined to make this a wonderful visit.

If this test is successful, there's no telling what else I'll want to try. Two weeks to flat, sexy abs? Bring it on. 365 days to a more organized life? Do it. I'll either be posting one testimonial after another or will have to change the name of my blog to Myth Busters.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Rose colored glasses.

Every time I turn on the radio or television, I am bombarded with news about how poor our economy is. People interviewed talk about how they can't afford to put gas in their cars or go out to dinner or take a summer vacation. Homes are being foreclosed on left and right, businesses are shutting their doors, and people are losing their jobs. Times are tough for many Americans.

When I hear this kind of news, I immediately think how grateful I am that we haven't been personally affected by the recession (did they ever decide if it was OK to use that word or not?). "It's so sad what is happening but thank God we're OK!" I only recently realized how funny this is.

Of course we've been affected by it! My husband has been out of work for 4 months. He got laid off because of the economy (companies don't have as much money to spend on advertising so advertising companies don't have as much money to spend on employees), and had a hard time finding a job because of the economy (most companies he interviewed with couldn't afford to pay him what he deserves to make - with so many other people out of work, someone will take the job for nothing!). Fortunately he found something great but it took lots of patience, perseverance, and time. Time that would have forced many people to lose their homes. It's not hard to see how this happens to people.

Fortunately, we can afford our home and don't have a lot of extra expenses weighing us down. We're used to living on a budget and treat things like going out to dinner or to the movies as a treat instead of a necessity. (I recently went to see the Sex and the City Movie with a few friends and realized it was the first time I had been to a theater in 3 years.) We eat a lot of beans, get our books from the library, and make coffee at home instead of driving through the nearest Starbucks. It isn't really a big deal. We like eating beans and going to the library and making coffee. We rarely feel deprived; instead we feel...grateful.

I wonder what life would be like if we didn't. If I turned on the news and thought, "Yep, that's us. Struggling to get by because of this stupid economy." Would we have survived the lay off? Would we have had so many blessings come our way (odd jobs, graduation gifts, the economic stimulus check...). Would we still have a lot to be grateful for our would we be struggling to get by?

I believe life is what we make it. No matter what the external circumstances may be, if you think life is great, it's great. If you think it is just one bad thing after another, don't be surprised if you never catch a break. We all have the power to live exactly the life we want. We just have to decide what we want and interpret what happens with caution.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Update.

After much thought and careful consideration, we have decided to post-pone law school. As much as we would have liked to leap right into this next stage of our lives, our choices at this point were not ideal. Why should we be forced to make a hasty decision when what we really want isn't an option? I think we're fully entitled to have whatever it is we want so we're going to keep trying and see what happens.

(If you're wondering, we've got our sights on UT Knoxville. It's close to home, the in-state tuition is a joke, and it's a really great school.)

So...we'll be in Nashville for at least another year! Let's party!!!

Me, my future law school student & our city.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Raging hormones.

Listening to the podcast This American Life is one of my all-time favorite things to do. I've been know to drive completely out of my way so I can listen to it in the car. Once I drove to Cincinnati to "shop for maternity clothes" just so I could get my fix. Who's gonna argue with a crazy pregnant lady?

Speaking of crazy...This American Life recently dedicated an entire show to hormones and the affect they have on some people's lives. It was fascinating. Fascinating. I listened in my car like usual and found myself driving slowly through a parking lot with my hand clapped over my mouth, shaking my head and whispering, "No way. No way!"

Act one was about a man who lost his testosterone and with it, his desire. All of it. He went from being a relatively normal guy to someone who didn't want...anything. Nothing gave him pleasure but since he didn't have desire, he didn't really mind. He was completely content but without the feeling of satisfaction. He didn't feel anything at all.

Act two was about a person who was born a woman but chose to live as a man. Part of his transition involved taking massive amounts of testosterone to help him get in touch with his masculine side. Did he ever. He grew facial hair, got a deeper voice, and began to see woman almost entirely as sex objects. For a guy who used to be a gal, that's quite a leap!

Listening to this show solidified what I've suspected about hormones for quite some time. If they get out of whack, it can completely change your life.

My first glimpse of this came when I got on the pill for the first time right after high school. Bill and I had finally gotten together after two years of friendship and heavy flirting and it didn't take long (maybe 6 days?) for me to give into temptation (yes, my husband is the first person I had sex with). We were completely head over heels in lust and love and I was on top of the world. Things were great until my parents realized what we were doing and made me get on the pill. It only took a month or so for me to go from heaven on earth to hell in a hand-basket.

That Halloween I showed up to a party dressed as a witch and overheard someone say, "I didn't think Bill meant literally..." For my birthday a few weeks later, Bill took me to a concert in San Francisco and when I realized a friend of ours was going to ride with us, I got so upset that I didn't speak for the entire trip. Not. one. word.

The most insignificant things would send me into a tailspin of rage. I was out of my mind. Completely irrational. A different person.

Of course, I didn't realize this at the time. When it was happening to me I just thought I had changed. "This is how I am now," I thought. "Deal with it!" I didn't realize until my sister got on the pill for the first time a few years later and screamed at me through tears of rage, "This is how I am now, deal with it!" that there may have been a connection.

I don't necessarily think the pill made me crazy but it certainly intensified my less desirable side. Instead of having a few unbearable days of PMS, it was like I was suffering from the symptoms ALL THE TIME. I was irritable, unable to deal with the unexpected, exhausted, completely irrational, and ready to snap at any minute. They joy had been sucked out of me and it was almost impossible to smile. Oh, and I had the sex drive of a nun. Perhaps that's why the pill is so effective against pregnancy. Who wants to do it with a frigid bitch?

I got off the pill as soon as Bill and I broke up (it didn't take long!) but over the next several years I experimented with it again and again. I would see an ad for a new low hormone variety and think, "I wonder if that will make me crazy?" I'd express my concerns to my doctor but the most common response I got was, "Just try it." So I did. Some had an immediate reaction, some took a couple months to really get a hold of me, but they all made me a version of myself I'd rather not have to live with.

I gave up on the pill long before Liam was born. We used good old fashioned family planning or the "P.O.M." (Do NOT make me spell it out. It's so...graphic. I much prefer the less racy description, "leave church without singing.") It worked so well that I started to think I wouldn't be able to have kids. If it was possible, surely we would have had an accident at some point! When I got pregnant after trying (ahem, singing) only once or twice, I got a little scared. Now that I knew I could get pregnant, I was afraid it might happen again before I was ready.

I knew I couldn't get back on the pill (by this point, Bill had all but amended our marriage vows to include, "Yeah, yeah, sickness or health, whatever, as long as she's not on the pill.") but I didn't know much about my other options. An ad for an IUD in a parenting magazine caught my eye and when I showed it to Bill, he was on board immediately (What can I say? The man loves to sing.). I asked my doctor about it, being sure to point out exactly what I did NOT want (like, divorce) and hoped she could help me decide if it was a good choice or not. After pointing out the relatively small list of options, ("If the pill makes you crazy, don't take it. Condoms work. If you use them. IUD's are good. I have one and I love it."), I decided to go ahead and try the IUD. What's the worst that could happen. Heh.

When a hormonal imbalance gets a hold of you, it's not the kind of thing you can self-diagnose. You can't see what you were like yesterday and compare it to how you are today. It's like yesterday never happened. You completely forget what life is usually like. All you know is today sucks. Everyone around you is wrong and it's really starting to piss you off. Your child is whiny, your husband is lazy, your house is unmanageable, and your job is annoying. And whoever shrunk your pants in the dryer is going to be sorry. Zero to bitch in 60 seconds? Try no seconds.

Fortunately for me, I have a partner who can ever-so-gingerly point out that the smiling, happy version of me is gone and the evil, snarly me is about to drive my nervous dog, blankie clutching son, and patient-but-too-smart-to-go-there-again husband running for the hills. He sees in me what I cannot see for myself and eventually finds a way to break the news. It can't be easy for him. When I first see that white-flag look in his eyes, I want to kill him. "Oh, sure, I guess this is all my fault. Blame it on me and my hormones. Again! Like you didn't have anything to do with this? What about the fact that you haven't shaved in 3 days, huh? WHAT ABOUT THAT?!?" If I can find a way to see what is happening while it is happening, it's like grabbing onto a rope thrown from a rescue boat after falling overboard. I'm still in the deep, dark ocean all alone but there is a chance I might be able to escape without drowning.

So, I tried the IUD. For a while there, it seemed to be working just fine. I was on and off my period for about 6 months but other than that, there were no real emotional problems. Then one day, a friend of mine told me she thought her IUD was making her crazy. She was irritable, forgetful, exhausted, and had no sex drive. Hmmm. I had recently forgotten to go to work twice in one week. I wondered if it was making me crazy too. I asked Bill. The white flag look washed over his face. Relief. "Maybe you should get it taken out?"

I couldn't believe it! I had had it in for almost a year. I really thought it was working for me. Was it possible that it was fine for a while and then, not so much? I knew I had a lot of research to do but in the meantime I decided it would be best to get it out. For a hormonally sensitive girl like me, the less I have to work against, the better.

So, it's been out for a couple months now and I feel...I don't know. No matter how badly I want to end this post triumphantly, I think I will have to settle for honest instead. Yesterday was awful, the day before was great. Today is pretty good so far. Bill says he thinks I have about 10 good days a month. The rest of the time? Oh, hell. I have been keeping a calendar so I can see if there is a pattern. So far, I'm afraid he isn't exaggerating. I'm researching PMS and hormonal imbalances and looking for answers (Bill said he found some good information online. When I asked him what he Googled he said, "PMS, rage, help.").

I had never thought about PMS until very recently but I'm starting to wonder if it has been my problem all along. 10 good days a month? Surely that's not normal. Does anyone have any insight, advice, suggestions? I need all the help I can get. In the meantime, I will continue reading about "PMS, rage, help," and hoping today continues to be a good day.

I'm afraid this won't be the last unnecessarily long post about my hormones. I'm sure you're on the edge of your seat now!

Monday, June 9, 2008

Decisions, decisions.

Being an adult is really hard sometimes. Like, oh, I don't know...RIGHT NOW.

We have been in this undecided gray area for months now. My husband got laid off from his job in March, right after he mailed off applications to several law schools. Hmmm, we thought, this is awkward timing. If he gets into law school now, he will have to start in August. That only leaves 5 months to find, start and quit a job. That hardly seems worth it. Then again, 5 months without income hardly seems possible. Hmmm.

At first, he looked for jobs he would be comfortable quitting after only a few short months. The problem with jobs like that is they don't pay much more than unemployment. He could sit at home and eat cheese all day for the same amount of money he could make working his tail off at some dead end job. And, if he took a full time job, I wouldn't be able to work as many hours at Vanderbilt. Offer after offer just didn't make sense.

So we waited. Waited for a stroke of genius or a sign or something. Mostly we just waited for the mail.

I hoped it would be like on TV. I'd bring in the mail and wave a letter from Bill's dream school in front of his face. "It's too thin," he'd wail. "It must be bad news." "Relax," I'd say, tossing him the letter. "Just open it!" He'd tear open the envelope and just like that, our future would be decided. We'd clap each other on the back and dance around and he'd point to the mascot on his sweatshirt like, "See? I knew this was the school for me!" I wanted it to be obvious so we'd know we were doing the right thing. So we wouldn't wonder if we were making a mistake.

It doesn't really work like that though. Once you get a letter, it just makes you think about all the letters you've yet to receive. If you get into a school, you wonder if it's the right school. Will I get in somewhere better? Is this it? Do I really want to move there? Why did I even apply to this school? Then you start worrying about money and moving and if you'll be able to find a job after school.

Those are the good letters.

In the midst of all this anticipation and rejection, Bill started interviewing for a job. A good job, one that would be hard to leave right away. We weren't sure if it was a good idea to keep pursuing it but didn't have any solid reason not to. We weren't over the moon about any of the schools he was accepted to and didn't want to turn our backs on a potentially great job because we might get a really good letter one of these days. I tried my best to be quiet and listen to my gut instinct but with Liam and the babies and the pets and the unemployed cheese-eating husband, there is very little quiet to be found around here. Besides, it's not really my decision. As much as it kills me, I have to wait for Bill to decide what he wants to do. His gut told him to pursue the job and finally, after 4 interviews, he received an offer this morning.

Aaahhhhhh. It was like I finally exhaled after all these months. This is the sign that I'd been waiting for.

Or is it? We still haven't heard from every school and he won't start work for another two weeks. A lot can happen in two weeks.

Maybe I'll find a way to be comfortable with not knowing what is going to happen next. To embrace the unknown as exciting instead of infuriating. To be grateful that we have so many choices. That we've survived unemployment. That we've had so much time together. That I've managed to keep my family financially afloat. That my husband landed a great job and got accepted to three law schools. That no matter which route we choose, we will get from here to there together.

The possibilities are endless.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Lazy days.

Saturday was one of those days where I didn't really do anything at all. I didn't cook (frozen pizza surely doesn't count), clean (I put the sheets in the wash but never managed to get them back on the bed), read (I leafed through lots of magazines which are now piled in various stacks around the living room), write (I sent a 4 line e-mail to my sister in Thailand), watch (a couple minutes of Hilary's speech and some Oswald in the background), or do...anything.

My saving grace for the day was the HoopAerobix class I taught from 11-12. I had to be lured out of bed with a cup of coffee to get there on time but still, it was so much fun. Plus, I got a great workout, met new people and got paid! How can you top that? Frankly, I didn't even try. I spent the rest of the day just sort of hanging out, wondering if there was anything else I was supposed to be doing. (You know, like weeding the garden, doing laundry, taking a shower...)

When Liam got up from his nap, I was determined to come up with something we could do. The pool? No, it closes early on Saturday. The bookstore? It's all the way across town. A bike ride? Too bloody hot. The ice cream shop? Hmm...I could leave the house for that. I asked Liam if he wanted to go get ice cream and he got really excited and ran to the kitchen to get it out of the freezer. Darn. So much for getting out of the house. I scooped big bowls of chocolate ice cream and we all sat on the floor in Liam's room licking our spoons and listening to old country music on the radio.

It was actually...perfect. Kind of like being on vacation. I guess that's what you call a Saturday.

Here are some pictures from our real vacation at Rosemary Beach a few weeks ago.





I have NO idea why we look so romantic in this picture. We tried to take another but we kept looking romantic! I guess that's what sunsets do to people...

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Brought to you today by the letter R!

R is for Robert, the amazing friend who single handedly revived our computer as it limped toward the light at the end of the tunnel. It was ready to give up; to say goodbye to the exciting world of e-mail and digital pictures and meet it's maker in scrap yard full of out-dated cell phones and ironing boards. Every time I pressed power and squeezed my eyes shut and crossed my fingers tight thinking, "Maybe it just needed a good rest?", it would simply not turn on. How do you fix something if you can't even turn it on to see what's wrong? That's where Robert came in. He is like the Jedi Master of computers. I think he just looked at it sternly and said, "Not on my watch, sucker." Well, it may have been slightly more difficult than that. OK, it was a complete holy terror that would have caused me to gouge my eyes out if I had spent even half a millisecond trying to help! One virus after another had to be tracked down and destroyed. Then all of the damage it caused had to be repaired. And so on and so on and so on. How unattractive and socially awkward do you have to be to create a computer virus? Talk about lame. Enough about that. The demons have been exercised and our computer is back from the dead - it's time to celebrate!

Oh, and speaking of celebrating...

Barack Obama (finally) won the democratic nomination! We will be drinking margaritas in his honor just as soon as Bill gets home from the liquor store. Woo hoo!

So, I guess that means I have a few minutes. And a computer. It's almost too much for me to process! Maybe bullet points will help me transition back into the world of blogging a little more gracefully. Here's what I've been up to lately:
  • We got a new oven. Not so much by choice as by necessity. I guess the mouse got the last laugh after all.
  • The last few times I've gone to Vanderbilt to work, I've had to use a computer that sits on a counter top inside what looks and feels like a supply closet. I perch on a bar stool that is squeezed between a ladder that goes to the escape hatch on the roof and a rolling cart. The first time I sat there, I could hardly walk when I was done. I knew data entry was bad for my carpal tunnel but had no idea it would hurt my knees. How old am I? I since realized that if I prop my feet on an empty box while I type, I can walk to my car afterwards without wincing. Leave it to me to land a job at a prestigious university and wind up in a supply closet!
  • I stopped wearing antiperspirant and am really surprised at how good I smell. Then again, I have a stuffy nose. I might stink! Damn allergies.
  • At a neighborhood cookout the other night, our neighbors were telling us about how they like to trap feral cats so they can spay and neuter them. "It's kind of a hobby," they admitted sheepishly. When we told them we had cats who don't wear collars, they asked us to describe them. About half way through my description of Mr. Bird, they looked at each other and said, "Snow Leopard!" Ha! Now we call Mr. Bird "Snow Leopard." It actually suits him quite well. I think it's funny that they thought our 17 pound cat might be feral. He definitely doesn't look hungry to me!
  • I was flipping through the channels last night (that's what happens when you don't have the Internet) and came across a show on E! called The Girls Next Door. Have you seen this? It's about Hugh Heffner's 3 girlfriends who all live in the Playboy Mansion together and it is the most fascinating thing I've seen in a long time. I can't explain what the appeal is quite yet, but I know I want to see more. It could just be that I haven't seen reality TV in a while and I got sucked in. It happens.

My husband just walked through the door with the tequila. It's time to celebrate our next president. Yay, Obama!