Monday, January 30, 2006

Work Sure Can Ruin a Day

My job is beginning to feel like a three-ring circus, and there’s a man-eating tiger in every ring.

1. I’m taking a class in FrontPage so that I can take over updating our web site. This is daunting, since they want the web site redesigned.
2. I’m about a week behind getting our yearly devotional ready to go to the designer.
3. I forgot several steps relating to 2, which will delay matters even further.
4. Oh, and I have to promote the devotional, which involves setting up email campaigns to our churches and bugging other agencies.
5. I have to create a bunch of schedules for upcoming projects. This is always time-consuming.
6. The monthly e-newsletter is breathing down my neck.
7. An appeal letter that the director keeps saying will go away hasn’t gone away and I still have to write it.
8. I have to edit and update all our fliers. Oh, about half a dozen if not more. I think I have until May 1, but
9. There will be quite a few other things due by May 1, the cutoff date prior to big ol’ General Assembly.
10. Oh no, General Assembly.

The art instructor at DramaQueen's school chose her artwork for display at a new teacher training center in our county. She was one of two from the school, so this is my first official "brag" on my daughter. Dear Husband was so tickled he emailed everyone in our address book and posted the letter from the teacher on his blog.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Now We Are Six

This morning I let DramaQueen go into daycare ahead of me while I put Firecracker on her bus. Then I went in to give her a goodby hug and kiss. She looked at me warily and said a quick "bye-bye" that came out more like "ba ba," then gave me a perfunctory hug when I kept coming.

She was embarassed to hug and kiss me in front of the other kids.

I thought I had at least another couple of years.

On the way home this evening she asked if she could watch some television when we got home. I said she could either finish her movie or watch whatever was on "her" (Disney) channel.

"I'll watch whatever's on TV, if that's acceptable."

I'm getting teary-eyed here.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Sick in the Head

Literally. I stayed at home today with a sinus infection. And now it's evening. How did the time, my time of rest, go so quickly? Of course some of it was spent at the doctor's office and the pharmacy, but still, I feel so very tired. And whiney. And I always feel guily when I take a day off work, as if I'm kid playing hookey. And I feel guilty that the kids are still at daycare, even though I'm tired and sick. I dread the pileup of work on my desk tomorrow. I like my job. I like the people I work with. But this afternoon, when I was wandering the drugstore aisles waiting for my prescription, I saw a girl in a school uniform with her mom. And when I drove into the parking lot of our apartment complex, I saw another girl, walking home from the bus, and I felt such a pang of sadness. I wish I could be one of those moms who's waiting at home when their kids come in from school.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Why I Hate Mornings

I have a bit of a quandary that I’ve been dealing with all school year. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I have to wake DramaQueen and Firecracker at 5:45 am so that Firecracker can catch the bus to her school at their daycare center. Firecracker goes to a special school that starts an hour earlier than DramaQueen’s school. It isn’t in our school district, and this has led to some complications with regard to transportation, pick-up times, and my job, all of which is too boring to explain here. Life is sooo unfair.

I could probably part the Red Sea more easily that I can get a three-year-old and a six-year-old out of bed at 5:45 am (unless it’s Christmas, but that’s irrelevant to this discussion). Getting them to bed earlier has not worked well—partly because by the time I pick them up after work and get them home, I would have about an hour to do get them fed and bathed before bed. Dear Husband might like that, but the girls have other opinions. And at the end of that hour, Dear Husband will be home and the celebratory dancing and chanting will commence: “Daddy! Daddy! Daaaadddddyyyy!”

(Have I mentioned that no matter what time Firecracker goes to bed, or how busy her day, at 10 pm I will find her sitting up in bed, bright-eyed, playing with a car?)

We have been conscientious about laying out clothes for the next day, having the backpacks and lunches by the door and the coats at the ready, and setting Mommy’s coffee maker to go off at 5:30 am. But all the preparation in the world cannot get around the fact that no one wants to be awake at 5:45 am. Including me.

It’s amazing how difficult it is to dress inert bodies.

And why do they put seams in children’s socks? If we can fly to the moon, can we not develop a seamless sock to save the sanity of moms across America?

But back to the early start conundrum. I think I have arrived at a solution. If I limit their clothing to sweats and leggings with t-shirts, they can sleep in what they will wear the next day! Problem solved!

You think I’m kidding.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

DramaQueen's Birthday Party

DramaQueen has a smashing birthday party this past Saturday. She actually turned six on the 4th, but Christmas break makes it hard to coordinate an earlier party. We held the party at a plaster painting place. The manager lived up to her name by managing the children wonderfully. I didn’t have to do anything except sit in the front with some other parents and eat leftover pizza. She was truly amazing. Imagine organizing 13 excited, squealing six-year-olds in a space where everything is breakable. She maneuvered them neatly through donning a smock, choosing a piece to paint, and painting. Then she served pizza and set up a game of musical chairs. She even kept them all in line during the present opening segment. And at the end she was just as calm and collected as at the beginning. And it was her third party of the day. Whatever she has, I need it.

Anyway, we have more toys than she can play with. I still haven’t unboxed some of them. And what is with boxes these days? I need a tool set just to unlock a Barbie doll from its wrapping. I’ll be fishing those stupid twist ties out of the carpet for weeks. I also have a burning question: Who invented Polly Pockets? Whoever you are, you’re going to roast for it. These things have shoes that are smaller than my pinkie nail. That is so wrong.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Friday Five: Pleasures

1. Sex
2. Reading when I should be working
3. Chocolate, particularly a box of assorted chocolates, as long as they are mostly nut and caramel centers.
4. An iced Caramel Machiatta from Starbuck’s
5. Watching someone else clean my house

Bonus: The absolute quiet when Dear Husband takes the girls on an outing.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Quick Note

I wanted to peek my head out and say thank you to everyone who left comments on my Gloomy Depressed Post. Your kind words and prayers mean a lot to me. I’m busy busy busy at the moment. DramaQueen’s birthday party is this weekend—and there’s another birthday party the same day! I also have an editing project to work on at home in my “spare” time. My concentration has improved dramatically, but I don’t think there’s a pill to overcome the lethargy that overwhelms me when I look at a sink full of dishes or a dryer full of clothes. Sigh.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Monday, January 09, 2006

Just Me and My Shadow

Depression has the unfortunate side effect of making the world all about me.  Like a bad toothache, depression is impossible to ignore for very long; it narrows my focus until all I’m left with is the darkness lodged in my psyche. I’m on medication, so now I am functional. Unhappy, but functional. My concentration has improved. I can get work done. Sometimes the physical tension of this is so great that tears seep out. Depression is a burden on the soul. The following is shameless self-indulgent confession.

I remember my first encounter with depression. It was my junior year of high school. I was smitten with one of my friends, a senior.  He was an atheist, and a good debater.  I kept in my personal cupboard a few unexamined beliefs about God, Jesus, salvation, goodness, love, morality, and the way the world operated.  He took out every single one of them and smashed them.  This was a very strange experience, to look out at the world unprotected by any creed, to see, well, Nothing.  Why get up? Why have an opinion?  Why anything?  Why be?

I read the Bell Jar. Doesn’t every depressed teenage girl read the Bell Jar?  There were no pills to overdose on in my house.  I wasn’t savvy enough to know exactly what would make you overdose.  I read somewhere that if you slit your wrists you have to make the cuts vertical rather than horizontal.  Perhaps, I thought, I could do that.  It seemed a rather painful way to go, but perhaps razors were sharper than I thought and flesh not so resistant.  I found the blades for my dad’s razor in the bathroom.  I made a few cuts on my arm.

This isn’t going to work, I thought.

Fuck, I can’t even kill myself.  

I made a few more cuts, and then some more, until my arm was crosshatched.  And then I stopped.  

I felt better.

Small cuts like this release opiate-like substances into the brain.  Self-medication was never so easy!

Except I had to wear long sleeves all the time.

You might wonder if my parents ever noticed that I had turned into a dour, joyless, self-injuring freak. Nope. They were too busy tormenting each other.

IF they worried about me, they worried about sex. They were afraid I might be having sex with the atheist boy. Which I wasn’t. Unfortunately.

Unexpectedly, one day at the end of the school year, the darkness lifted a bit, and then a bit more, and I had a relatively happy senior year. And I could wear short sleeves.

And then I went to college. On the one hand, college was a liberating experience, to be free of my crazy parents and the petty crap that goes on in high school, to find like-minded people who actually had conversations about books and politics and art.  On the other hand, I was a painfully shy person. All my thoughts lodged in my throat.  I wanted to love and be loved, but that was too intimate to bear.

I had to wear long sleeves a lot.

Since there were free counseling services, I went to see a therapist. Funny me, I was so secretive about my little “self-medication problem” that I never even told my therapist, a somewhat sour fellow that I don’t even remember. Then there was the nice woman therapist who taught me relaxation breathing. Uh huh. Then there was the intake therapist who caught a glimpse of my arms and freaked out so much I thought she might commit me. She decided I was beyond the reach of a college counseling center and foisted me on a psychologist in downtown Atlanta.  I always think of him as the gay therapist, because he was.  He gave a new meaning to talk therapy.  I heard more about his life than my own.  I still have one of his books, Mae West Is Dead.  I made him very happy by deciding that I was actually a lesbian. It seemed to explain a lot of things.

And then I went to New York to be a poet.  This is the perfect vocation for depressives, and New York is the best place to be if you have any abnormal traits.  Everyone has a therapist and everyone is nuts.  I can’t remember meeting anyone who was happy or well adjusted, at least not in the poetry department of Columbia.  We were like guests at a Jerry Springer show: incest, child abuse, rape, alcoholism, drug abuse, suicide attempts, spouse abuse, homosexual but conflicted, homosexual but no longer conflicted just really pissed off.  My problems paled in comparison.  But I wasn’t really capable of looking on the bright side.

Eventually I ended up at the Mt. Sinai outpatient psychiatric clinic, where I was introduced to the miraculous properties of Prozac.  

Ah, Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors . . .  

This is IT, I thought. This is what normal feels like. Wow.

I wasn’t sure I had felt like this before EVER, even as a child. Definitely not as a child.


Fast-forward to here and now. Which isn’t so great. Getting better, perhaps, but not so great.

My therapist says I need to see myself as God sees me.

Well, yeah. Duh.

And I should pray for guidance. Uh, since I wasn’t so clear on how that worked before the Black Crow came and nested in my heart, I sure don’t know how it works now.

Oh, and if you’re worried that I might be “self medicating” again, I’m not.

Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Hot Wheels

I've started to worry about Firecracker's teeth. As a baby she wouldn't let anyone near her mouth--a response to being intubated after birth. It took a lot of coaxing to start a brushing routine. For a while the electric toothbrush was a wonder, but then she started to dislike it's vibration, and the head is a bit too big for her mouth. Brushing sessions sound like this:

Me: Let Mommy brush your teeth now.
Firecracker: Do it MYSELF!
Me: Okay, but let me finish up.
Firecracker: NO! MYSELF! (proceeds to lick off toothpaste and chew on bristles)
Some negotiation later:
Me: Open wide! (I brush as gently as possible with a disabled electric toothbrush)
Firecracker: Ouch. Ow. Ouch.
Me: Just a bit more--open wide.
Firecracker: Ow. Ow. Ow. DONE!

The other day I thought I spotted two little brown dots on her upper teeth. Horrors! Since DramaQueen had to have two root canals at the age of three (I swear, I did brush them every day and I didn't give her lots of sweets!). I decided it was time to take more agressive action. Flouride rinse. Floss every day, not just when I can wheedle her into it. New toothbrush with smaller head.

So last night Dear Husband came home with a special toothbrush for Firecracker. It's a Hot Wheels toothbrush. The handle swerves like a racetrack and has a racecar at the bottom. You should have seen Firecracker's face light up. "Hu-way! Hu-way! Hu-way!" she cried, doing her special happy dance. I had to open it right away and brush her teeth. Several times.

I think she likes this toothbrush more than all her Christmas and Chanukah presents put together. She fell asleep with it clasped in one hand, and she was inconsolable this morning when she woke up and it wasn't there (Bad Mommy had put it away) until it was once again where it truly belonged--her hand.

I didn't know there were so many aspects to dental hygiene.

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Give the Little Lady a Hand

A few nights back I had an icky dream. Or really, a dream snippet.  Hands were breaking through the ground, hands covered with what looked like rivulets of blood or perhaps red vines snaking around them.  Dear Husband says this is a direct result of the movie War of the Worlds, even though I didn’t watch it. It just seeped in. The one image I did catch was of a city covered in red vinous stuff.  So, yeah, I guess there’s a connection.

On the other hand (ha!) some of my most vivid nightmares have featured hands.  When I was 5 or 6, I experienced a series of nightmares that I can still vividly recall:

Nightmare 1:  I am in our living room (of the house I grew up in) and there are dismembered hands and fingers lying on the sofa, end tables and chairs. There are no evident signs of violence, no blood. The room is well-lit; there are no shadows.  It is very quiet, and eerie. My father comes in and begins putting the hands and fingers into a brown paper bag. My mother is there, too, but she does not seem to be paying attention; she is staring off into space.

Nightmare 2:  I see an expanse of desert covered with hands, as if there were bodies buried there with just the hands showing. On the horizon is a man dressed in dark robes, on horseback.

Nightmare 3:  I am in a neighbor’s bedroom (a teenage girl who lived next door). On her dressing table is a hand. It looks something like a mannequin’s hand. It “stands” on its wrist, all the fingers extended, as if its purpose were to hold rings and necklaces. The hand has long, red nails. I go up to it and touch it, and it grabs my hand.

So, why do I dream about hands? Do they have a symbolic significance? Dear Husband thinks they are related to the ability to act. So I guess following that thought that severed hands indicate impotence. That does have a nice Freudian ring to it.

Would anyone like to play armchair dream analyst?