Wednesday, July 31, 2013

I'm Not Sure I Want To Know.

Last time I was there, I fought desperately with the paper gown to stay closed over my ample figure.  This time, after checking my weight and calculating my BMI, the nurse grabbed a gown from the XL drawer, not the L.  I am on the fence about whether or not this was a better outcome.  But at least there was still a little overlap and less risk of potential exposure.

I checked the status of the Band-Aid in the crook of my arm.  The phlebotomist wasn't the worst I've ever had, but she wasn't the best either.  There was no blood to be seen, but I contemplated the anticipated future bruising based on the pain of the needle stick and the seemingly endless amount of blood that was drawn.  I tried to count the days until I should expect the results, but my brain couldn't handle the calculation due to the 14 hour fast I was wrapping up.

I put off this physical for far too long.  Like many people who actively skip seeing a physician, I just don't want to know.  At the same time, I can't ignore the warnings about early detection of illness being one of the best weapons against it. Lately, it seems like every time I turn around, something else hurts.  As I'm beginning yet another thrust toward better health, it seemed like making my appointment was a good place to start.

I have no reason to believe I'm sick, and yet, I have no proof that I'm not.  I can take all of the tests in the world today and tomorrow could be the day it all goes down hill.  I try my best not to think that thought, but sometimes, when I'm not vigilantly fighting it off, it creeps in.

I told the doctor about all the things that concerned me.  Careful watch of her expression told me when I started to sound confusingly crazy.  She told me everything seems fine.  She told me to work on the weight problem.  She told me to rest my broken toe for a few weeks before I run on it again, but to find ways to exercise around it.  She told me to get a mammogram.  She told me they'd call me soon with the blood test results.

She told me not to worry.

I don't want anyone to have to take care of me.  I don't want to be a burden.  It's not the being sick that scares me. It's not even the idea of dying, although maybe a little.  Mostly, the thought of needing others for every facet of my survival is my undoing.  I've seen first hand what a chronic illness can do to a family and it's not what I want for mine.

What if all of my aches and pains aren't just those of a fat, rapidly-approaching-middle-aged woman?  What if they are something worse?  I know the "what ifs" aren't healthy, but living in denial isn't either.

For now, I sit by the phone and wait, not exactly patiently.

So happy to be getting back to my friends at yeah write after a 2 week break.

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Back From Vacation.

We returned yesterday from our family vacation.  It was fun, though not in the least bit relaxing.  We swam in the pool, played on the beach, and walked up and down the boardwalk playing games and riding rides.  Vacationing with a six year old isn't a rest because when you're six, what do you really need to relax from?  My child will tell you how terribly taxing it is for him to have to get up and go to camp five days each week and play, but I'll tell you that it didn't stop him from playing the entire five days we were away. By the time we got him to sleep, progressively later each night, we were pretty beat ourselves.

So now it's back to business tomorrow.  All of those "I'll take care of that after vacation" things are coming due.

First up, I need to plan out my trip for the Type A Parent Conference in September.  I've had the emails about the schedule, the speakers, and a need to book my flight for weeks now, but I have been putting it off.  As soon as I finish this post, that's next on my list.  If you're planning to be there, let me know so we can meet up.

I also need to get my health goals back on track.  I fell off the wagon HARD these last few weeks.  As I type this, I'm eating cheese and crackers while drinking a soda.  Tomorrow it's back to fruits and veggies, lean protein and sensible portions.  No more soda, no more take out (except the last of that eggplant parm that I couldn't finish today from last night's dinner).  The small things have been adding up and they've been giving me implied permission for some big cheats.  Actually, things have been so bad lately that eating two pints of ice cream in two days is the norm and eating and orange for breakfast felt more like cheating.

I was going to get back to run/walking/training for my 5k but I dislocated my toe last week, mere hours before we left for the the beach, and now I'm not sure if I can.  Actually, I know I can't tomorrow.  I will be doing weights and very low impact for the near future.  I did put my toe back where it belongs, but it hurts and I'm sure walking in the sand and for miles down the boardwalk didn't help it all last week.  Before you tell me I should see a doctor, I am going for my annual physical (by annual I mean first in over two years) on Tuesday, so I'll see a specialist if she says I need to.

Also on the agenda are my writing and home projects which I hope to devote more time to.  There isn't much to say about those.  I'm trudging along at a snail's pace on the book and my house is currently a mess.  This blog needs some serious attention, too.

Finally, I sort of dropped off the yeah write summer series - 31 days to build a better blog which I feel terrible about.  I'm hoping to catch up on what I missed and at least practice some of the exercises, even if by the time I get to it everyone is already over it.

That's it for me for now.  I'm going to go put my foot up and dig into my to-dos.  At least for a few minutes until I have to get back to mom-life and then pass out somewhere around 8pm.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Reality of Working From Home.

When I started working from home a few months ago, I thought it was going to be perfect.  And while it is pretty wonderful, I was a little bit naive.

1. It's really hot in July and someone else paying to run an air conditioner all day long is something not to be taken for granted.  My workspace is on the second floor and the afternoon sun is brutal.  By 3pm, it's been in the mid-80s since May.  This week, 90+.  I could get another air conditioner for the office, but hello, electric bill.

2.  A lunch hour is still only an hour.  Also, an hour really isn't even that much time if you need to do anything other than eat.  If I have errands to run or I want to work out, I'm still eating while I work when my hour away from my computer is up.

3.  No, my laundry is not caught up. The wash cycle is 27 minutes.  The dryer is 40 minutes.  Folding takes about 15. This means that either I put it in the washer and don't move it to the dryer fast enough, causing it to get stinky and need a rewash, or it sits in the dryer or laundry basket instead of getting put away, so it's all wrinkled. Either way, if I'm working during my scheduled work time, laundry isn't getting done.  Just like if I was in an office.

4. My work stuff is in my house.  I can't really escape it.  It's always there, looking at me when I go into my office.  Also, my home office houses our bills, household filing and my writing work.  So while I'm working, that stuff is staring at me.  Basically whatever thing I'm not doing is sitting there mocking me while I do something else.

5. I can't decompress on my commute, mostly because the 35 seconds it takes me to walk from my office to the first floor where my mom life takes over isn't enough time to sneeze, let alone decompress. Don't get me wrong - I in no way miss the one hour plus commute I had at one point in time, but a few minutes to relax would be nice.

6. I thought I would have more time to write because I wouldn't be running around as much.  Not so.  Not so at all.  When I have a few extra minutes between camp or school dropoff and my start time, I spend it getting my breakfast, starting a load of laundry that I'll just be rewashing later or cleaning something.  I have the age old problem of needing to get up earlier to actually get anything done.  I know that early morning is a very productive time for me, but I am usually so tired I can't get myself to get up.

7.  One of my biggest issues in my last office was noise.  I'm very easily distracted, so all the side conversations, interruptions, and even the everyday sounds of other people working was bothersome.  It turns out my neighborhood is quite the bustling place during the day.  Last week, the people behind me had a massive tree cut down in their back yard.  A few weeks before, the house across the street had the roof replaced.  I now know everyone's landscaping schedule.  I also know all about my neighbor's car trouble, the new car they bought and the jealousy of the middle sibling that the eldest gets to drive it, even though she has one she can use.

8.  Sometimes maybe it gets a little lonely.  Mostly I miss having someone around to hear me when I yell obscenities at my computer and back me up with a hearty "Yeah!"  But don't tell anyone I said this because I have a reputation of only pretending to be a people person to uphold.

I'm not complaining though, because it sure does beat the alternative.  Unless the alternative is sitting on a beach and not working but still having someone put money in my checking account every other Friday, in which case I'd prefer that.

Joining the moonshine grid this week.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Common Ground.

I couldn't have been more than seven or eight years old.  Every Tuesday night my mother worked at the local library.  My brother and I spent the evening eating Jiffy Pop and watching The A-Team with our father.  Once Dad and Jim were asleep, and I was supposed to be, I'd sneak into my mother's bed to wait for her to get home.

She always seemed annoyed to find me there.  I pretended to be asleep so she would pick me up and carry me to my own bed.  She always knew I was awake and would tell me that the following week I was to sleep in my own bed. But I needed to know she was home, and I worried I wouldn't get to see her if I wasn't in her room.  So every week this ritual continued. 

For the past few weeks, my shoulders have been in considerable pain. My son is now forty-five pounds and at least as many inches.  He looks like he grows daily, all gangly arms and legs.  I suspect my shoulder pain is the direct result of trying to carry this monstrosity that my child has become.  

I fell asleep on the couch last night.  I was woken up by an urgent, frightened voice at the top of the stairs calling out, "Mommy? Mommy?" Startled and concerned, I sprinted to the second floor, taking the stairs by twos.

"I was calling you and you didn't answer," his voice cracked with sadness.

"I'm sorry, Baby.  I was asleep. I'm here now, it's OK." I hugged his shaking body.

"I was scared," he cried.

"It's OK," I whispered as I scooped him up.  He wrapped his legs around my waist and his arms around my neck, resting his head on my shoulder.  Closer to seven years old than to six, his torso is too long to fit this way.  I craned my neck to accommodate his need for comfort, pain surging through my shoulders.  As I lifted him onto his loft bed, wincing while I raised his body, he loosened his grip and eased into his pillow.

Now that he knew I was there, he could get back to sleep.

I kissed Nathan's face as he drifted off.  I retreated to my room.  Once in my own bed, my shoulders began to relax, the pain subsiding just a bit.

My mother probably wasn't really annoyed at me.  She was tired and I was heavy.  Her shoulders probably hurt from my weight and that of the world.  But she carried me as long as she could so I'd know I was safe, because that's what moms do.

We don't seem to have many parallels in our parenting, my mother and I, but I suppose there may be more common ground than I once thought.

I have been terrible about keeping up with 31dbbb, but I had this story brewing for the challenge grid, so here I am.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Ew. You blog?

Recently I found myself engaged in a conversation about writing.  OK, so maybe I brought it up. But it was totally organic, I promise! (It wasn't.)

I off-handedly said that I participate in a writing challenge and there was a spark of interest.  Turns out the person I was talking to also writes.  That person publishes stories, which is wonderful.  I said I blog. And that's when all of the enthusiasm drained out of the conversation.

There was a half-hearted, "That's cool," and a sudden need to do something elsewhere.

Hey, I get it.  When anyone can start a blog and write anything they want, there's no guarantee that it will be any good.  Some really aren't.  But many, many more are very good. There is a wealth of self-published writing that is just begging to be discovered.  Blogs should not be discounted just because they are blogs.

I don't claim to be perfect, but I put forth the effort to construct a proper sentence and use correct grammar.  I try to mix up the parenting stories, the memoir pieces, and the general slice of posts so that I can be relevant in a variety of ways.  I try to challenge myself and improve.

I haven't been published and I do recognize that there is a certain amount of validation that comes with having someone else approve of and, hopefully, pay you for your work.  I'm well aware that if everyone hated what I wrote, I could just keep on doing it and no one could stop me.  But I also know, even if I don't always admit it, that I have a relatively unique story to tell and the voice and skill to tell it.

My blog is a vehicle to tell that story, and, sure, any other thing I damn well please.  I do consider myself a writer and I don't care if someone else doesn't.

I've been lacking confidence for a long time.  I know that and, if you read here with any regularity, you know that, too.

One sure fire way to give me confidence, though?  Imply I'm not good enough.  I'm sure that person isn't reading this and none of the blog haters are either.  That's just fine.  I don't need them.

(Submitting to the moonshine grid.  A fun place to hang out on the weekends.)

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Anywhere But Here.

In case you haven't heard, this month Yeah Write is hosting a summer series "31 Days to Build a Better Blog." 31 topics, 31 days, every day in July. I'm following along and will hopefully post along daily to practice skills.


Day 2: Write a List Post

Vacation:  It's all I've ever wanted.  Vacation:  I have to get away.

No seriously, if I don't get the h-e-double-hockey-sticks out of here soon, I'm going to lose my mind. I need a few days during which I do not have the responsibilities of work or running a household.  I need someone else to make my bed for me.

For the last three years, we've gone to the San Diego area of California.  I love it there.  I want to retire there and, if everything goes according to my fantasy, I'll retire before I'm 40.

But this year we aren't going there.  I am disappointed because, even as a lifelong NJ resident, you cannot convince me that the Jersey Shore is better than Carlsbad, CA.  You just can't.  Don't try.

There are a few things, though, that are making this year's vacation just a little bit better.

1.  3 hour drive as a family, not 6 hour flight with just me and Nathan.

Usually Kris flies out to California the week before us for work, so I make the trip out alone with Nathan.  He's a good flier, but 6 hours in one seat, preceded by a stint in an airport makes anyone a bit restless.  Six year olds, by nature, are pretty restless on a good day, so my patience is shot by the time we arrive  at our destination.  And the flight home, when everyone is worn out from fun yet still not wanting to go home, is no prize either.

2.  No jet lag.

Have you ever had jet lag?  It sucks.  We are a family full of sleep issues.  Nathan is an early riser - between 5 and 6 most days - so a three hour time difference is torture.  Unless you like being up at 3am for the day.  I don't.

3.  Boardwalk food.

When we go to California, there are two things I really want to eat.  First is dinner at our favorite Mexican restaurant, Norte, in Carlsbad.  The other are the fried apples at Legoland.  But on the boardwalk in Wildwood, there are many treats to partake of.  You can get anything fried:  Oreos, candy bars, plain old blobs of dough.  You cannot beat a sausage, peppers and onions sandwich from one of the sketchy eateries.  Kohr Bros. ice cream, Polish water ice and Curly's fries are all regular things that happen to be extra delicious.

4.  I can pack more crap.

Because of the fact that I fly out without my husband, I have to limit what I bring. It's really hard to carry tons of stuff and keep an eye on a kid who won't carry anything.  This year, I'll just pack up the car and then we only have to lug it from the car to our room, not through two airports, on shuttles, in rental cars, and a variety of hotels.

5.  I won't be as sad to come home.

The last day in California I am so sad I can barely stand it.  If I had known last year that I wouldn't be back this year, I think it could have killed me.  I will be sad to see vacation end.  The truth is though that I could really go to Wildwood anytime I wanted.  I'm happy to be anywhere that isn't my home, where someone else cleans, and where I have an excuse to eat out more than I should.

So while this isn't my dream vacation, I'm just thankful I will be somewhere, anywhere, but here, for a few days.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Going down?

In case you haven't heard, this month Yeah Write is hosting a summer series "31 Days to Build a Better Blog." 31 topics, 31 days, every day in July. I'm following along and will hopefully post along daily to practice skills.


Day 1:  Write an Elevator Pitch. 

At BlogHer, when asked what my blog was about I'd give the following response:

Well... sometimes it's just my day to day.  You know, life as a wife, working mom, etc. But sometimes I do some memoir work about life with my parents.

If they appeared like they were still listening, I'd add in that my dead mother had multiple sclerosis and my father is a recovering alcoholic.

My readership did not skyrocket after BlogHer.

A blog redesign has been on my mind, which includes the idea of the name, tag line, elevator pitch, and the overall way I want this blog to represent itself.  The internal conversation goes something like this:

1. The Journey is a stupid name for a blog.
2. I should have stuck with the old name, "What I'm Thinking About Right Now."  Wait, no I should not have.
3. I recently changed my tag line from a whole lot of stuff about being a homesteading, green mom, since that's not where I'm headed anymore.  The new tag line reads "Writing my way through life." I'm not sure I like that either.
4. What's the pitch?  Start with the pitch and find the name/tag line...
5.  Possible pitch:  The musings and ramblings of a crazy curmudgeon.
6.  When I try to write about myself and be clever, it makes me think people will say, "Who does she think she is?" Then I want to puke.
7.  Ooh!  That could be my new tag line - I think I'm going to puke.
8.  No, no! - I think I'm gonna barf. - but said in the voice of Marge Gunderson from Fargo.
9.  No one will know to read it in Marge Gunderson's voice.
10.  Fuuuuu... No wonder no one wants to read this thing.

I put a little thought into this pitch, albeit at 3:30 in the morning.  Here goes, take one:

I'm writing about my past, present and future, with an eye toward being a wife, mom, employee, and a writer.  I'm trying to be a better parent than mine were.  I examine themes from the POV of an Adult Child of an Alcoholic as well as the young caregiver for my late-mother as she battled multiple sclerosis.  Sometimes I throw in my anxiety and depression.

And now I think I'm gonna barf.

What do you think?  Be honest (but kind, please).  If you want to weigh in on the tag line, blog name or elevator pitch, go for it.  I'm here to learn!