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Saturday, December 31, 2016

It's New Year's Day!

Somewhere, anyway.

I'm in the Pacific Time Zone, so by the time I finish this entry it will be midnight in the UK.

As you know, 2016 has been a right royal little shit for me and mine.

In more ways than one, of course, but anyone who has read this blog knows the biggest reason.

I'm having a hard time looking forward, as they told us to do at my first widows' support group meeting. As they tell us to do every week at Weight Watchers. Don't dwell on the past, remember, but don't live there.

I get that.

Having a little trouble with it, but I do get it.

So this year, the resolutions for the New Year are a family affair, because I just can't do it alone.

We're all going to be eating better, sleeping more, moving more, even when we don't want to.

I'll spend the extra money for food that's good for us, be the bad guy and make them go to bed on time (as well as going myself), getting up and walking my ass to the school bus stop to pick up Lizzy instead of driving there.

We'll cook more and eat fast food less.

I've got the tools to do these things (although I have to get the dishwasher fixed, and there are still medical bills leftover from Laston's last illness). I'll make sure Lizzy gets her counseling and I my support groups (Abby seems to be doing okay right now but if she needs them I'll do that too).  I'll get to work on time (and as that schedule will change in February, it may be easier then, schedule willing). I will make sure we do a little work a day to clear out the constant clutter. These are my worst habits, and they need fixing.

With the exception of the work schedule and the decluttering, all this begins Tuesday morning as the kids are out of school until then.

And the swearing? Fuck it. A girl deserves to have one bad habit.


Monday, December 19, 2016

'Twas the Night After Christmas

At least as far as Studio East's kids' show is concerned.

As much as I love it there, I think I was maybe biting off more than I could figuratively chew this year. I mean, the idea was to distract us all from our grief, and while that may have worked for the kids, during the last week or so I have been on the edge.

Like tipping over the edge.

As in, if anything else went wrong (the Studio wasn't something wrong; it just added stressors to the pile), I was going to run naked and screaming down the (chilly) streets of suburban Seattle.

That would not be pretty for anyone, although it might be good for my fitbit.

And it might still happen, although I made it through today without melting down, even though the same rule as yesterday applied. By the end of today, I (half-seriously) considered answering the phone with something like, "Thank you for calling Jenn's Sympathy for Lost Loved Ones Service. How may I empathize today?"

Or maybe, "Hello, Jenn's Whose Dolly Did I Bust, how may I help yooouuuu?"

Because seriously, it was like all the calls from customers who had just had a death in the family were being routed to me.

In any case, all my Facebook friends already know this, as do several people in Real Life. And so I'd like to mention all in one "thread" in my blog (where most people I know will see it), what my plans are to get myself back in some sort of decent emotional shape.

I know it's not a quick fix or a solution, but there may be a means to an end here.

I'm going to use the Thinking Putty my lovely colleague gave me to keep my hands busy (rather than biting my nails). I'm going to get my own bottle of the essential oil formula a coworker lent me (yeah, yeah, I don't care about the science (or not) behind aromatherapy; it helps me feel better). I'm joining a local Widows' support group. I'm continuing Weight Watchers.

If I need it I'll get separate therapy, but I suspect a lot of the extra stress will subside after the First Christmas Without Laston.

Hey, scratch that; something bad just happened and I swore a blue streak, but there was no naked screaming or running.

Friday, December 16, 2016

2016

At this point, just the title sounds like a novel about the Beginning of the End, the prologue to the Rebuilding Civilization arc of the bulk of the story.

I sure hope it is.

Because previous posts notwithstanding, even with the good days now (generally) outnumbering the bad, this has been a hell of a week.

It started with a neighbor kid telling Lizzy something so hurtful that her grandmother and I are still angry about it a week later, though Lizzy herself seems to be doing okay, based on observation and her teacher's and therapist's reports. I'm not going into the details here; the neighbor kid is after all a kid, and while I am still very pissed off, the issue has been resolved by parents, apologies, and whatever punishment his folks doled out over and above the apology.

But it set a bad tone.

Saturday was Abby's birthday, and day three of four 'Twas the Night three-show days (the last one being this Sunday). It was a Good Day for the most part; I wrangled the toys for two of the three shows, saw one of the shows, and then we went to Grandma's for a birthday dinner and gifts for Abbs. Fun times.

Sunday I woke up with a fever and a sinus headache - oh joy - and spent the day in bed.

Monday there was less fever and I went to work, with a doc appointment in the middle of the day. Yeah, whatever, viral, blah blah blah. Stress. You think?

Tuesday was work and was tolerable. But now my dishwasher won't drain, just to add to the pile of death-of-a-thousand-paper-cuts that is my life this year. And oh, goody, more medical bills (as Washington is a Community Property State, I get to pay medical bills for a deceased spouse... unless the creditor is feeling generous. Most of them don't). So I have a likely dishwasher repair or replace and a bunch more medical bills to add to the new brakes of earlier this month. Terrific.

Wednesday was nice in the morning ("Mom, you're a lot less shouty after your massage," says Liz) and fun in the evening, as Leanna came over and we decorated the tree. The in-between times were good for Lizzy (her grief counseling session was really good) and very very blah for me. The anxiety is ramping up here, and I don't really know why (except see above). I keep jiggling my legs and twisting my fingers. Ask my mom sometime what that means.

Thursday I worked all day and then took Lizzy to brownie scouts after a short drive (so we didn't arrive too early) to see Christmas Lights. It was fine but I'm still all finger-twisty and weird.

Today's my day off. It's Weight Watchers (and our meeting was good), and I'm still in that up-and-down-five-pounds I've been in for months (because stress, you think maybe?) and now I'm just trying to get this all out on "paper" so I can escape into silly books or BSU or sleep until Abby gets home from school and I have to put my game face back on.

After I wash dishes by hand.

And fold yet more laundry.

Maybe I'll just go back to bed.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Better Days

I'm having them, for the most part.

Lizzy is not.

She complains of not feeling well, of various limbs hurting, and every tiny ding or scrape or boo-boo needs treatment. She's spending too much time in the nurse's office at school (one school nurse, no matter how good (and she is good), can only do so much), and she scared the playground teachers the other day by complaining of her "tongue feeling like it burns."

No, it was not an allergic reaction as they feared; it was simply too much kiwi fruit, which - like pineapple - can make one's tongue burn from the citric acid.

In any case, I'm sure it's all of a piece with the other symptoms of grief in a nine-year-old who - while very bright - can't really describe the feeling of general malaise involved in depression/grief/anxiety, not to mention probable fears that every little thing is, well, an indication of cancer. Like her daddy had.

So she complains of things that make sense to her, in the same way that she has reverted to baby talk and preschool TV a fair bit of the time.

She's already in therapy - pediatric grief counseling being actually a thing - and her teacher and other school peeps are being so proactive in helping her out, but we're taking her into the pediatrician this afternoon as well. If we find nothing physically wrong, it will give Lizzy (and me!) peace of mind. If we do find something (for some reason Lizzy has it in her head that she may have allergies like Abby does... and has always kind of wanted them; I guess they make you special in her mind), then we have a more concrete thing to deal with.

And... as I am feeling better overall (although today kind of sucks, I have had a good almost-week), I'm going to try to be more positive when I'm with Lizzy. I can fake it 'til I make it in her presence too if I have to. And in Abby's.

I can use my role playing skills with them, and let out the bad crap after they go to bed at night.

Friday, December 2, 2016

A Good Day

I had one today.

And my mom said it's the happiest she's seen me in months, maybe even in a year or so.

Even a couple weeks ago, the events of this morning would have thrown me for a total loop. But even with the scary brake noises, and not getting any of the stuff I wanted to done - this laundry won't fold itself - because I was stuck at Goodyear while Scary Brake Noises were repaired, and the cost of said repairs, blah blah, blah. Even with all that...

I had a good day.

Part of it was the Weight Watchers meeting this morning, which was excellent, even better than usual (and that's saying something; I usually enjoy them). Our topic was self-compassion, and it was the best discussion I've had in several years of on-and-off attendance.

I was inspired, and apparently inspiring, in my two stories - one about how Lizzy doesn't think I'm fat; she thinks I'm "soft" - and one about how there is more to me than fat.

That first is important, because it shows that soft - a much more positive adjective without all the baggage of fat - is how I am perceived by someone who loves me. I think that's a good jumping off point.

The second is important in a different way. I've been trying to explain to some of my online friends that just because someone is Muslim, or gay, or Christian, or transgender, or Mexican, or Black, or female, or whatever, that is never, ever all they are.

And the same goes for fat.

I am fat, it's true. But it's just one of a list of adjectives I - and others - use to describe me. I'm fat, but I'm also female, intelligent, motherly, unpunctual, basically honest, depressed, generally kind, anxious, and geeky.

There have been hours I have spent trying to make this point about others. But only today did I consciously say it about me and fat. I am more than my adipose, thank you very much.

This whole good day actually started yesterday, when the big boss of the call center where I work said, "Jenn is back," upon hearing about my November stats.

Not all the way, not yet. Today's adventures exhausted me, and I usually need a nap about lunchtime when at work.

But I'm getting there.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Theatre Kids

I've written about my love for our friends at Studio East before, as we've spent a large amount of time there for the past nearly two years. But I wanted to reserve a post just for them, not about my girls specifically and their roles there, but just about the Studio itself.

We love it there.

The kids are nice to the point that when Abby first started there and I asked if she felt like they made her welcome, she said she felt like she didn't even need to feel welcome; she was just part of it. Said children have their faults, of course; they're still human beings and children and all that. But they are good kids, and the Studio cracks down hard on any exclusionary or mean behavior.

I feel ridiculously comfy there, and I think the girls do too. It feels like an extension of home, rather like my mother's house or the "quiet room" at work.

Here's a little ode to their signature annual show, 'Twas the Night (go get tickets at the link!), set to a possibly recognizable tune (and yes, the children tell me there aren't exactly seven singers, and there are definitely more than 11 parent volunteers. And Lizzy tells me Sam does about sixty notes. But you get the idea).
2016

On the first day of 'Twa-as, the Studio gave to me...
Joy and Hilarity

On the second day of 'Twa-as, the Studio gave to me...
Two Aching Ankles
A-and Joy and Hilarity

On the third day of 'Twa-as, the Studio gave to me...
Three Shows a da-ay
Two Aching Ankles
A-and Joy and Hilarity

On the fourth day of 'Twa-as, the Studio gave to me...
Four Little Mousies
Three Shows a da-ay
Two Aching Ankles
A-and Joy and Hilarity

On the fifth day of 'Twa-as, the Studio gave to me...
Five Manic Toys...
Four Little Mousies
Three Shows a day
Two Aching Ankles
A-and Joy and Hilarity

On the sixth day of 'Twa-as, the Studio gave to me...
2015

Six kids with head colds
Five Manic Toys...
Four Little Mousies
Three Shows a day
Two Aching Ankles
A-and Joy and Hilarity

On the seventh day of 'Twa-as, the Studio gave to me...
Seven Caroling Singers
Six kids with head colds
Five Manic Toys...
Four Little Mousies
Three Shows a day
Two Aching Ankles
A-and Joy and Hilarity

On the eighth day of 'Twa-as, the Studio gave to me...
Eight Lovely Reindeer
Seven Caroling Singers
Six kids with head colds
Five Manic Toys...
Four Little Mousies
Three Shows a day
Two Aching Ankles
A-and Joy and Hilarity

On the ninth day of 'Twa-as, the Studio gave to me...
Nine Notes from Sa-am
Eight Lovely Reindeer
Seven Caroling Singers
Six kids with head colds
Five Manic Toys...
Four Little Mousies
Three Shows a day
Two Aching Ankles
A-and Joy and Hilarity

On the tenth day of 'Twa-as, the Studio gave to me...
Ten Packs of Tickets
Nine Notes from Sa-am
Eight Lovely Reindeer
Seven Caroling Singers
Six kids with head colds
Five Manic Toys...
Four Little Mousies
Three Shows a day
Two Aching Ankles
A-and Joy and Hilarity

On the eleventh day of 'Twa-as, the Studio gave to me...
Eleven Parents Helping
Ten Packs of Tickets
Nine Notes from Sa-am
Eight Lovely Reindeer
Seven Caroling Singers
Six kids with head colds
Five Manic Toys...
Four Little Mousies
Three Shows a day
Two Aching Ankles
A-and Joy and Hilarity

On the twelfth day of 'Twa-as, the Studio gave to me...
Twelve Happy Children
Eleven Parents Helping
Ten Packs of Tickets
Nine Notes from Sa-am
Eight Lovely Reindeer
Seven Caroling Singers
Six kids with head colds
Five Manic Toys...
Four Little Mousies
Three Shows a day
Two Aching Ankles
A-and Joy and Hilarity

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Auld Times They Are Not Forgot

We are having an at-home-family-day. Tomorrow rehearsals start again after a couple days off, all next week is dress rehearsals and then the performances start. It goes like this through the 18th of December, so we really need a do-nothing day.

I plan on laundry and dishes - those are constant - and getting ready for the work week. But other than that, we're spending most of the day with the girls watching Charmed (until dusk, when it's too close to bedtime for Lizzy), playing games, etc.

And me, going through old blog posts (been blogging here since January of 2011) and playing Nostalgic Fun Time, some of which I'm sharing with you again.

Like then-nearly-five-year-old Abby, wondering why she can't have two dads and a birth mom like her friend M, or asking me to either turn up the TV or put my breast back in the baby's mouth.

Or then-six-year-old Leanna, explaining apologetically that she can't come over the day I bring the baby home, or that she's not actually jumping on the (loft) bed, because her feet aren't leaving the surface.

This picture:  Lizzy looks appalled. Leanna looks so happy.

Leanna telling Abby's dad that he doesn't get as cold as she does because he has hairy arms.

This entire post.

Eight-year-old Abby's obsession with the Teen Titans cartoon. Which caused her teacher to remind me that Comic Books Really Are Okay If They Get Her To Read. And a reader is born.

How Lizzy has been functionally an almost-vegetarian since toddlerhood.

That we have had over the years several serious conversations regarding which Christmas special is the best (excluding feature-length things like Nightmare Before Christmas, which we all agree is awesome).

How music - pop, rock, country, classical, show tunes, you name it - can be used to describe almost everything in our family. The way other people use pop culture movies quotes, we use lines from music. And always have.

I have realized afresh that although I'm really having trouble switching gears during this depression/grief thing I have going, I've never been particularly good at it. I'm like my dad; I'm better at "planned spontaneity," the tendency to say we have to go to the next thing as soon as X task ends, or that we can do whatever we like between four and six PM.

That both Abby and Lizzy are really good at using literary references for day-to-day activities and have been for years. This may be hereditary.

Lizzy's loose grasp on the concept of cause-and-effect has improved with her knowledge of scientific practices; for a while there she thought - for example - that the sun moved in the sky so it would "hit all the flowahs to help them gwow."

Mondegreens and malapropisms have been around in our family forever. With their enormous spoken vocabularies, this is more often hilarious than not.

The utter charming hilarity of then-four-year-old Lizzy explaining earnestly that she has "salivawy duhmatitis."

My language has deteriorated, in my blog and in real life, since Laston first got ill. In early blog posts I was very circumspect about bad language, but now I know there are bigger issues than whether I drop an F-bomb where people can read or hear it. To the point where Lizzy - even though she finds bad language hilarious - asked me to "put the filter back on before the girl scout meeting. We don't know how all the scout moms in the new troop are about bad words." Abby's dad would likely tell her that I've sworn like a sailor the whole time, but there have been whole years where I have not.

Thor is still really hot.

My friend and (again) neighbor Carrie has been the best baker I know for years now.

No matter how long we've been taking the tests, Abby is still a Hufflepuff.

I'm a kickass student as an adult.

Introverted and shy are not the same.

Everyone has been, well, lovely. I only looked at the first few years of my blog posts, in fairly desultory fashion, and yet all your kindness shone through even before Laston's illness and death.

I love you, Dear Readers.

Friday, November 18, 2016

The Write Stuff

In an effort to keep Miz Liz on task in Writing class - she has the imagination and the skills, but not the desire - we're letting her start a sub-blog off of mine. She is not yet old enough to have her own Google or Facebook accounts, so her blog will be curated by me. 

Be nice; the child is nine years old.

So visit her at The Amazing Adventures of Science Girl!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

You Are Safe With Me

I know that the safety pin thing has a lot of different opinions surrounding it, and among my friends - Facebook and otherwise, these seem to primarily be divided depending on whether you are a marginalized person based on race or due to some other factor.

To me, and for me, the safety pin I wear is to remind me to walk the walk.

I am not a member of one of these marginalized  groups for the most part. I am a woman, but a white one, and my disabilities are pretty invisible to the naked eye. I am also straight and pretty much non-religious.

Nor am I a child, as many of the people who support our racist, misogynist President-elect seem to write people who don't vote like them off as. You want my credentials? I'm 48, married, divorced, remarried, widowed, mother of two, stepmother of one, and have a degree in Intercultural Communications.

I have been through a lot of crap - especially this year - and I am tired of grinning and bearing it.

I know people and how their minds work and I like almost all of them.

But I know, love, work with so many people who are in danger, not because Trump took the electoral college, but because some people take that win as a license to abuse anyone who doesn't look like them.

You hear the horror stories of people being beat up, spit upon, shouted at, because they are gay or black or Latinx or Muslim or transgender or even potentially "look like" one of these.

Well, I know actual people to whom these things have happened. Not just shit I read on the Internet, but people who are the children, parents, friends and siblings of people I know in real life. Our superintendent of schools sent out a letter to every parent in our (pretty diverse) district, stating that our schools are no-bully zones. The fact that they feel the need to do this shows me that a lot of people I know and see every day and freaking shop next to at the supermarket are scared, and rightly so.

So yes, I will wear my safety pin, and please, please know that I am a safe space. I don't know if I can physically defend you against an attacker, but I will do my best.

And if nothing else, you will have someone who is a safe person to use as a sounding board.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Bitter and Not Yet Bittersweet

Let's just get the bitter out of the way, shall we?

I do not understand people who voted for Donald Trump, much less for the chance for all three branches of government to be so-called "conservative." There is nothing conservative about them, except for conserving a way of life for the top echelon that excludes all others. They don't give one shit about conserving anything but money and business: not the environment, not the people, not really the jobs. Certainly not the integrity of one's private life.

As I see it, there are four kinds of supporters in this day and age who would vote for someone like Trump and his cronies:

  • A) People who vote Republican regardless of who it is, because of pro-gun-rights or anti-abortion or their spiritual adviser told them to or whatever. 
  • B) People who honestly believe that the big business guys will get them jobs or are scared for other reasons like "too much political correctness" or "teh gay is catching" or "all Muslims are terrorists" or "Mexicans are taking our jobs." 
  • C) People who believe political oversimplification about things like Benghazi or emails or "Clinton's a liar" in the face of actual video and audio evidence that her opponent lies as much if not more than she does (or that it's okay that he lies because he's "a loose cannon.") 
  • D) People who just don't give a shit that they are voting for a man who thinks that 13yo children (like my daughter, for instance) are old enough to be attractive to adult men, that it's okay to share "locker room talk" because they're famous, that it's acceptable for grown men to throw tantrums and still be elected President of the United States and doesn't have the self control or the sense to keep his lips zipped.
So, you see, they're not all racist, sexist, homophobic bigots. But a large portion of Group D and some of each of the other groups are. 

I'd like to think that in this election, most of the Republican voters I know and love and respect fall into Group B, honestly. Maybe Group C.

Because the alternative scares me, especially with a Congress that has been as obstructionist as fuck and still got voted back in.

I mean, I'm a widowed, fat, white, straight female of Jewish (on my dad's side) extraction. Straight and white work in my favor in this environment (there's my privilege), fat and Jewish and female probably work against me, and as for widowed? Well, with Donald Trump in the White House and a Republican Congress and Supreme Court likely, there goes the Social Security payments I get from my husband's death to help me support the kids.

At least that is my fear; I don't think the wheels of government move that quickly, even when Congress is not being obstructionist assholes.

And I hope it is just fear, and although I am not the praying sort, I hope rather desperately that all we angry folks on the left have it in our hearts to be as decent as we can manage, to not be assholes ourselves in our zeal to say I Told You So. And that the very Republican Congress looks at their Frankenstein's Monster and does Holy-Shit-What-Have-We-Done instead of Gotcha-Suckers.

Most of you know that I felt the Bern, as did my late husband, and so I can understand the kind of populist appeal someone like Donald Trump has for some people. Populism has two sides to that coin. The only reason I (very very grudgingly) supported Hillary Clinton was because Bernie Sanders recommended it; I trust him more than I distrust her. And I live in a state where I could have voted for Bob the Wonder Poodle and that wouldn't have made a difference to the presidential race.

Maybe, just maybe, my wiser friends - on Facebook and Google Plus and in Real Life - will prevail overall. They're the ones who say to work harder on your local down-ticket stuff, to not be a jerk to the people who voted differently from you, to try to keep calm and carry on. To allow myself this time of discouragement and upset and then try to work with people no matter how wrong I think they are. That we can combat ignorance and hatred and fear while remaining decent human beings. 

Especially those of us who have some privilege for whatever reason; we need to work together on this.

At the moment I remain discouraged. But I'm doing the best I can. No black ribbons for me (although maybe the green one for depression). No lamenting after a reasonable mourning period.

Just trying to be a good person.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Words and Changes and Stress, Oh My

This will be a fairly random post.

First I want to talk about semantics and how they color the news, especially with this election. I've noted before that we call governments we don't like "regimes" and those we do like "administrations" and I think this is a similar thing.

I think we can all agree that we disagree on a lot of things. But one thing I've heard over and over again, as well as catching myself doing it, has to do with how we speak about the various candidates. I'm not talking about the mean little names (e.g. Killary) or cute slogans (e.g. Feel the Bern) that are puns on their names. I'm talking about something a lot more subtle; it was so subtle, in fact, that this Word Nerd didn't spot it until this morning.

We call the male candidate by their full names or their surnames (e.g. Gary Johnson or Trump) and the female candidates by their full names or their given names (e.g. Jill Stein or Hillary).

Why is this?

At first I thought (when I gave it any thought at all), that it was primarily to differentiate Hillary Clinton from Former President Bill Clinton. And for some of us this is possibly true. But I wonder how much of it is gender linked; we could after all call her "Mrs Clinton" or "Ms Clinton" if all we wanted was to differentiate from her spouse.

Now I think some of it at least is an unintentional, institutional sexism thing; using the familiar form of someone's name (given name or nickname) accords them less respect than the full or surname (Mr Trump is more formal and therefore more respectful).

You may or may not think I'm reading too much into it; that's up to you. Just throwing it out there.

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Some of you may have noticed that I have, for the first time in years, changed my blog background to something different from my pretty gray-blue rain-on-a-mountain.

It was depressing me; I'm having a rough enough time this autumn with Real Life, without looking at that stuff on my screen as well. So pretty fall leaves it is, at least for a month or so.

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Stress is a thing. These headaches are really pissing me off. So I decided - on the assumption that they are primarily tension-based due to them being relieved by a professional massage - to use heat and neck support and the like for the next several nights running. If the headaches don't get better, I'll see a doctor about pinchy nerves or something.

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That's kind of all I've got. But hey, at least it's not all about depression and illness today!

Saturday, November 5, 2016

The Girls and I

I'm speaking here of the two who live with me; they are the ones I interact with most, naturally.

It is a little strange, just the three of us, even a couple-three months later. Halloween was odd, especially, because even though I really like the folks who were here and the festivities were in my own home, I was so done peopling by the time it was over I could have screamed. Stupid temporary introversion. It would perhaps be less weird if Lizzy was old enough to leave her here alone for more than a tried to the junior high school bus stop for her sister. My mom is still primary chauffeur, but she can no longer leave Lizzy with her dad if I'm not home when Abby needs to go somewhere. Or have Laston here to answer the door while I take the little kids out Trick-or-Treating.

So Lizzy goes with, instead, which leads to lack of sleep (she's never been good about going to bed, and yeah, some of that is my fault, more later on that topic), and apparently a susceptibility to whatever crud going around that results in headache and fatigue and little else.

The fact that I've overscheduled them again this year probably doesn't help. Last year it was to keep them busy so they wouldn't fret overmuch, and this year to keep them busy because a) depression/grief and b) they really enjoyed it last year.

Routine is good.

Now, about my fault that Lizzy doesn't sleep. Here's the thing: she has always been that child who wants to stay up in case she misses something. When we were all crammed into a two-bedroom apartment, we tended to put her to bed with the TV going (on what we call "baby shows") just to nail her to the bed and keep her out of everyone's hair. It became a habit. And yes, I know it's not good for her to have electronics buzzing around her, especially in bed at night. I do appreciate the concern of the people who worry about this on her behalf.

But at the moment, I'm not taking what amounts as a security blanket away from her. Her therapist agrees with me.

Did I mention she's in therapy? She is, and it seems to be helping her a lot. (As an aside, I didn't realize there was such a specialty as Pediatric Grief Counseling, but there is). We're only a couple sessions in, but so far so good. There is also assessment involved, to see whether some of her quirkier behaviors are symptomatic of ADHD or Asperger's or what-have you. The neuro-psychologist says that there is a lot of overlap, and she would not be surprised by either in Lizzy's case. As we don't plan to medicate - the focus items work great, and we just want them to be official - this is just a matter of waiting for available assessment dates.

As for Abby, she's sad, and grieving but she is both easier-going than Lizzy and older, and has a bigger support system. Her dad has been great - especially as her weekends with him have been interrupted a lot with her theater activities - and super supportive, and she has friends and classmates who get the issues a lot better than Lizzy's (the difference between nearly-14 and nine is huge when it comes to things like these).

And me? I have a blog. I have friends and family. I have a open invitation at a couple of widows' groups and at the Evergreen Hospice Care Center.

Maybe after the Overscheduled Autumn is over...

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

The Mind/Body Connection...

...is a vicious cycle.

It also goes both ways.

I've talked before about my temporary introversion since Laston's death; normally I gain energy from being with other people but here lately I find other people - even those with whom I am totally comfortable, like the kids or my mom - emotionally exhausting to be around. I love the people we had over for Halloween snacks and trick-or-treating, but first one after his death, and introversion, and I was done awfully quickly; it might have been a good thing that Halloween was a school night after all. All I wanted was to sleep.

And then I couldn't, of course; I was too wired.

This is normal, regardless of the stage of grief; the instinct is to hunker down and protect oneself, but also stay aware of the potential dangers around.

So I've been getting headaches almost every day for almost three months. It doesn't seem to matter whether or what I've eaten, whether I'm at work or home or other, and how much (water or caffeine) I've drunk. Most days anywhere between 11AM and 2PM I get a headache.

I have tried getting more sleep, because I'm sure that's part of it. That's not working so well. Tried staying hydrated, going with coffee or tea or herbal infusions. No change. And of course the lack of sleep makes the headaches (and the my-brain-is-slow) worse, and vice versa. (And the lovely people who keep pointing out that marijuana is legal in my state? Thanks, but I'm not there yet).

Yesterday the headache was so bad (with sound-and-light-sensitivity and mild nausea), and so early in the day (like when I got up at quarter to six) that I called in sick and went back to bed. Caffeine, Tylenol, Advil, sleep: the headache was down to bearable by about six PM, when the girls got home (thanks, Grandma).

Still had it this morning, although more like last night than yesterday morning, and of course I didn't sleep well, either because of the pain or because I slept most of the day yesterday, or both. Or the usual suspects of stress and depression and anxiety and Election of Doom 2016.

I had a massage scheduled for today though (it's my day off) and she erased the last of that pain for me. I have another scheduled for a week from Friday.

Maybe I need them more often, so I can have less pain, and sleep better, and therefore be a more productive human being.

My insurance doesn't cover massage (although it does cover grief counseling), so I can only afford those massages every so often.

But it's kind of amazing how much lighter I feel, physically and mentally, since my massage of earlier today.

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Aimless

That's kind of how I feel.

There's all this stuff I want to get done, but depression/stress/grief leaves me completely unmotivated. I don't sleep well at night, I'm having trouble sticking to my Weight Watchers, and it's all Eeyore or Puddleglum all the time over here right now.

My friend +Charlie Hoover, host of Geek Question of the Day on Google Plus, had the question last night of what the pecking order would be of the Emotions in the Pixar movie Inside Out in our lives. I wrote the below, and while it gave me a bit of catharsis (and it's fairly accurate), it just doesn't describe the feelings adequately:

"Anger and Sadness rule my roost these days, with Fear not too far behind. Disgust has taken a break; he got overloaded during +Laston Kirkland's final illness. Joy has come down with the flu, but keeps poking her head out to let us know she's okay."

It is definitely true, you know. I'm seriously pissed off at the universe for the unfairness of it all; I lost a husband and my kids lost a father/stepfather. I'm depressed for the same reason (and because it's October). Anxiety - about what happens to me and the kids and who gets elected next month and any number of other things - is rampant. After seeing the process involved in someone's final days, I am no longer squeamish about bodily fluids.

And then there's Joy. I do take joy in some small things in life, some of which I have posted on Facebook, and most of which qualify as Out of the Mouths (except the perfectly ripe pear; that was just amazing). That I immediately feel guilty for feeling joyful about anything at all is irrational, I know. But the joy is still there, in small quantities.

I guess what I'm saying it I'm seriously messed up right now. I thank all of you who say things like, "give it time," or, "you'll have good days and bad days." I know these things are true, and I should take it easy on myself, etc.

Easier said than done of course.

What I really am is impatient with myself. Impatience is not on our list of Emotions from the movie (but then neither are Love or Hate; we only see the five listed above). But I don't like myself this way, all unmotivated and exhausted all the time.

I feel aimless.

Although, in all fairness to myself, when I get up the energy/motivation to write one of these posts, I do feel a lot better. Maybe if I can just force myself to do this once a week or so, it'll get me going.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Day Off

Lizzy asked me this morning, quite innocently, if it was my day off.

Well, yes. It's my day off working at AT&T.

But it's nine-thirty AM, and I've already:

  • gotten both kids off to school (reminding Lizzy to keep her hands to herself)
  • eaten breakfast (and logged it in my Weight Watchers database, plus planned the rest of my day food wise)
  • drunk one dose of caffeine and one of Gypsy Cold Care Tea
  • talked with the DirecTV installers (they're working on getting me my employee discount and they can get me a clear signal for about four years due to trees in the protected wetlands next door; then we may have to move the satellite dish)
  • run a load of dishes
  • run a load of laundry
  • folded some laundry
  • tidied up a bit
This afternoon I have a parent/therapist appointment to look at ADHD/grief counseling for Lizzy, then dinner and homework with the kids, then taking Lizzy (not Abby) to rehearsal (the reindeer do not have rehearsal tonight, but the toys do).

Did I mention that Abby was cast as Comet and Lizzy as a toy/sugarplum? Abby is over the moon as it's her first non-ensemble role. Lizzy is excited to be the most experienced toy.

I feel like I've accomplished a fair bit.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

"Don't Care How..."

I already posted this on Facebook and G+, but I decided to also put it out here on my blog.

As I have noted before, Donald Trump reminds me of a small, whiny, and entitled child.
Therefore...
Posting with sincere apologies to everyone ever involved with a production involving a chocolate factory:
-------------------------------------------------
I want a wall. I want a great wall.
I want a wall to keep Mexicans out.
And they need to pay for it!
Give it to me!
I want that girl. I want that other.
I want to grab them and have them,
On my arm, those pieces of asses.
Give ‘em to me!
Now!
I have the words. I have the best words.
You must believe me, my words are the best ones,
But now I need more words.
Give ‘em to me.
I want the works. I want this country.
I want to lock it all up in my pocket.
It’s my bar of chocolate!
Give it to me!
I want today. I want tomorrow.
I never said that, you all are just jealous,
‘Cause I have the best stuff,
The women and money,
But never enough stuff,
Don’t care how, I want it NOW!!!

Saturday, October 8, 2016

I Don't Understand

WARNING: This is my quarterly political rant and as such is likely to contain NSFW language. Polite dissension is encouraged. Assholery (and I get to choose what is assholery; this is my blog) will not be tolerated. Name calling is right out and will get you blocked.

Here's the thing: I don't understand people nearly as well as I thought.

Unless you've been living under a rock, you've heard about the horrifying things Donald Trump (heh - I typoed that as "Tramp" and almost left it that way) said about "kissing women and grabbing their pussies." This is a clear description of sexual assault, both morally and legally.

These things themselves are not what made me so angry; I have grown to expect nothing better from him. What upset me was the reactions of the people who still - for reasons only they know - support him. Let's look at some of the "reasoning" I've seen online today:
  • "Boys will be boys." Bullshit. The men I know (because they are not simply overgrown entitled twits who would never make it through Wonka's factory alive) may think things like that. I don't know; I've never been male. But if they do, they have the common sense and the common decency both to not act on it, and to keep their big traps shut on the topic.
  • "But Bill Clinton..." Bill Clinton is not running for President. Hillary Clinton is. Bill Clinton's personal decisions while in public office are irrelevant.
    • "But she supported him!" Yeah, she stood by her husband in a time when he coerced/seduced younger women into sexual relationships. Stupid of him. Possibly stupid of her. Her reasons are still none of our business, as it has nothing to do with today, or with, you know, the actual workings of government..
  • "But Benghazi/emails/Bernie!" Let's take those one at a time, shall we?
    • Benghazi: The "we'll do anything to block Obama" Congress found no wrongdoing after spending a bazillion taxpayer dollars. Not her fault.
    • Emails: Stupid? Yes. Illegal? Again, no wrongdoing was found except in the mind of the RNC, which as we established is not an unbiased witness.
    • Bernie: This is the one that hurts me. I wanted Bernie. My labor union wanted Bernie. My late husband wanted Bernie. Whether Clinton herself had anything to do with the DNC in the person of Debbie Wassermann-Schultz fucking with the primaries or not? I don't know the answer to that. More to the point, neither does anyone else.
      • My dad asked me early in the process if I would support Hillary Clinton because she's a woman. My answer was no (remember; I wanted Bernie Sanders). To me, qualifications are the most important thing here. If the qualifications were exactly equal, then yes; I would vote for the female or other minority. Baby steps.
      • And Hillary Clinton is the most qualified person running. You may not like her and you may not trust her (I'm not sure I do), but she is the most qualified, simply by job experience.
  • "But OMG, what about the children! Democrats want everyone to get abortions! Gays are adopting children to convert them! They think only Black Lives Matter! People pretending to be girls so they can see me in the bathroom! White Christians are being persecuted by being forced to acknowledge that other holidays exist! Jews control the media! Dems want to take all the guns of law-abiding citizens! There are a bazillion illegal Black Muslim Mexican Welfare Queens voting!" Again, bullshit. 
    • Democrats as a group want people to have equal rights. That's it. That's all.
      • Everyone's lives matter. Right now the black ones are at (much) higher risk.
      • Living breathing women are people too. And the abortion rate (and transmission of STDs) is measurably lower in places where more liberal attitudes prevail, because places like Planned Parenthood can provide birth control and education.
      • Transgender people are people too. I have yet to meet one who is pretending. And none who are interested in looking into bathroom stalls to see you.
      • White Christians are doing just fine. It won't hurt to nod and smile at someone who says Happy Holidays (for the record, most Christians I know are good people who don't make a fuss about this or red cups or what have you).
      • If Jews controlled the media, Bernie Sanders would be where Hillary Clinton is now. Same goes for the so-called "liberal media" as a whole. If there was such a thing, we wouldn't have to have this conversation.
      • Muslims are people too. 99.94% are not trying to kill you.
      • I know a lot of Mexican-Americans. I know a lot of people from India and Japan and Korea and other points south and east. Of f all the people I know who hail from other countries (and I know a lot; the degree is in Intercultural Communication for a reason) the only ones who vote (or receive assistance) are the ones who are legal citizens.
      • Nobody's taking away your guns. Relax. As for the more-people-are-killed-by-cars argument, well... spotting the two or three logical fallacies in that argument is an exercise for the class.
      • Gay people are people too. I remember Abby - then six - asking me why she couldn't have two dads and a birth mom, like her friend M
    • All of these groups are just people. They all pay more taxes than Donald Trump.
I guess what I want to know is why anyone with an ounce of conscience could vote for Donald Trump. I even have acquaintances who still plan to, and I just do not grok. 

As for third-party voters, well... I've been one. Their candidates get the short end all the time. I'm just afraid it's unrealistically idealistic to vote third party in this election.

Yes, I know you get told that all the time; "it's not a good time for a protest vote," or, "it's a wasted vote." In general I don't believe that is true; this system is hella-broken. But I think at this point it's more important to vote Democrat for president, and third party in the lower echelons, especially if you are a liberal progressive of any sort. You get enough Bernies in the legislative branch and they can make Hillary Clinton more progressive while she's in office.

Ain't nobody who can make Veruca Salt Donald Trump do anything he doesn't want to.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

More than Just the Boobies

Don't get me wrong; I am so, so glad that cancer - any cancer - gets an awareness month.

It's needed.

But oh my Google; I went to a couple of different stores today, one "health food" and one more conventional, and the amount of pink in October... I just find it depressing to know that we've been Saving the Tatas for years now, and there's still no cure.

Not for Boobies. Not for Butts.

Maybe for the girly bits, but I need to do more research on the HPV vaccine (and please let's not make this thread into a vax vs antivax debate; this is my rant).

And the fact that most insurance companies don't pay for colonoscopies until the patient is fifty; that's just stupid. At least Leanna and Lizzy will be able to get their earlier; their father died of colon cancer after all.

Anyway <shakes self> enough of that gloom and doom. Maybe it's partly because October is also the beginning of getting up to work before dawn.

So... at PCC today I got the most beautiful squash. There are three squashes of different types cooling after baking right now, some savory, some sweet. They also had the kids' Zevia pop on sale, including the caffeine free cola. So we're having squash and leftover mac and cheese that Abby made for dinner (for me that's no mac and cheese; I don't need the dairy or the starch and I'll stick with a hard-boiled egg or two with my squash).

I also got a couple loads of laundry, a load of dishes, and quite a lot of cooking done in addition to the shopping; this was after a meeting with the school folks about ADHD accomodations for Lizzy. They totally agree that she doesn't need any special education; the wiggle cushions and other kinetic/tactile focus tools are enough. We just need official word from her doctor that she does indeed have ADHD or something like it (and anyone who has ever met the child would agree) and she'll have access to those focus tools through college.

As I went through this same school district, they didn't realize there was anything wrong until 8th grade, and it was um... not a good experience, I'm kind of amazed at the openness with which the 21st century school system treats learning differences; the stigma appears to be nearly gone. The 1980s were not a good time to be a kid with a learning disability or three.

So actually, in spite of seasonal depression, pinkness depression, grief-depression and anxiety, and getting over a sinus infection... I got a lot done today.

I feel pretty good about that.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Ups

Exhaustion is still there. I'm still having trouble adulting (although at least part of that should dissipate as soon as these antibiotics for sinus infection kick in).

But there are ups as well as downs.

Lizzy will be tested for Hi-Cap (that's for Highly Capable; it's our district's version of elementary school AP classes) as soon as they do it (before the end of the school year). To that end, we are also having her assessed for ADHD, as I probably had it (they called it hyperactivity in the '70s) and her dad certainly did. Don't worry; we don't want to medicate her into zombie-like form. I just want all the fabulous focus tools her teachers have been using with fair success to be official; that way she can use them during other testing, avoiding failing a test by jumping up and down in the middle of it. I want to thank my friend Aileen (again) as she is a huge help with this stuff, being a teacher herself. The letter template requesting such services was especially great.

Abby is (again) in a mainstage production at Studio East (we're trying them both out for their usual winter production, 'Twas the Night, but that's another post). Right now she's in rehearsals for Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, as an Oompa Loompa, one of Charlie's classmates, and a cook in the Gloop home. Note: they are not being painted orange. She's having an absolute blast, especially as it's one of her favorites. It was one of Laston's too, and she's dedicating this performance to him.

If you want tickets, click the link up there and choose a performance for Cast A to see Abby.

I have a friend who is a printer, and she is making up booklets of all the nice things people said about Laston online and at the memorial, and I will have a (very) few to give out, in addition to the ones for my place, Leanna's household, Laston's parents, his brother, etc.

Another friend (as I found out today when I got a lovely gift in the mail) was making a wrap for Laston when he went into hospice care. A wrap in this context is either a narrow shawl or a wide scarf, and it's a beautiful blue-gray color. She sent it to me with a note saying to consider it a hug from her whenever I need it. Happy tears.

Laston's publisher, the kids, everyone has been so kind. So there are ups too. And we need to remember that.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Rough Week Adulting

Nothing really went wrong.

But I remain in awe of you natural introverts for ever going out and Interacting With People.

I worked four days this week, nearly all of each shift each day (I work four ten-hour days). I was so exhausted by lunchtime that I ended up taking long lunches to regroup for the second half of those days.

Now some of it may be that I had been off work for over a month, but I don't remember it being this hard either time that I wanted to stay home with either of my babies, and those were eight-week absences due to c-section.

Income I need, so work I must.

Even when I don't want to move from my cozy little nest.

Thursday was the worst, because I spoke with a customer whose phone bill was so high because she stayed home with dying grandparent while the rest of the family were out of the country.

I did not lose it. I did not cry.

At least not until the customer was off my phone.

And then I went to Third Grade Curriculum Night for Lizzy. It was actually okay, except that I skipped the assembly afterward. The 30 or so adults with a scattering of children in Lizzy's classroom I could handle. A gym-full I was pretty sure I couldn't; there are seven third-grade classrooms in her school (and I've been to the welcome-to-school assembly at one of the elementary schools in our district at least once a year for the past nine years; I think I've got the gist).

Friday I had off, almost didn't go to Weight Watchers (but gained less than I feared), and spent most of the day feeling vaguely weepy. No particular reason except the obvious.

Today we got up late, had brunch (note: the kids will take advantage. No, just because you had what serves as breakfast at eleven does not mean you get dessert while mom is feeding a neighbor's cat), and I took Leanna back to her mom and took Abby to rehearsal and Movie Night (they earned a movie with the whole group).Then Lizzy and I did some more shed-cleaning, some more books-to-Half-Pricing, and went out to dinner with the proceeds (and a coupon Lizzy got because she's a member of their kids' club and it's still her birthday month).

So I had Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday off. Did I get any of the stuff done I wanted to do? Very little of it; I just haven't go energy or motivation apparently. I did manage to get a little cash out of Half-Price Books, get rid of a bunch of random crap lying around, and put out old clothes for a charity pickup that apparently isn't scheduled until October 22nd. Did I mention that I'm also even more forgetful than usual; it never even occurred to me to look at the month on the confirmation, and I only saw "Saturday").

Oh, and I designated an area of my fridge as "School Lunches Stuff" so Lizzy can pack her own lunch. Go me.

And I'm still exhausted, to the point where if Lizzy's willing to let Grandma help her clean her room, I'm willing to be disapproved of for the state of her room.

Just too tired to care.

Don't fret; I'm not a danger to myself or others.

It's just that between the depression and the guilt (I know the guilt is irrational, but I feel guilty for such crimes as Seeing the Infinitesimal Silver Lining of Not Having Another Adult to Work Around In the House) I just want to do nothing. I want to read and eat and sleep (that last isn't working real well, which adds to the exhaustion) and play video games and do nothing else.

But I can't. I have a household to maintain, kids to parent, homework to help with, bills to pay, and Guilder to blame for it.

Heh... and writing. Writing always helps me feel better.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

A Ravenclaw for Certain

Miz Liz is a Ravenclaw; there is no question. As her father was, and as I sometimes am, when the Sorting Hat does not peg me as Hufflepuff.

For those of you who do not know the Hogwarts houses, assuming you've been living in a dark cave without access to the outside world, here's a link to the Sorting Hat's own definitions as portrayed in the first book. In Lizzy's own fair summation, they are "the brave ones, the clever ones, the nice ones, and the ones who do what they want."

Abby's a Hufflepuff, as mentioned here, but the dual test shows her as a Huffledor; that is to say primarily nice with a side of brave. I'm a Ravenpuff by that test: clever with kind bits.

Lizzy comes out as a Ravendor. She's definitely the former, not often the latter.

Even before last month she was not the bravest kid on the block; she's high strung and prone to nightmares and the like. She even had night terrors as a baby and toddler.

This is why I've been reading the Harry Potter books to her; she has the reading level even at just-nine but not the scary-tolerance to read them on her own.

Last week was our first oh-hell-no moment with a book for her; we got the the chapter with the cave in Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and she was just done. She escaped to the bathroom and asked me to read the chapter to myself and then summarize it for her.

I had the same feeling when Season Four of Buffy the Vampire Slayer looked to me to be too um... adult for 13yo Abby.

Yeah, so Harry and friends are going to have to survive without Lizzy's input or even knowledge for awhile, and Lizzy and I are going to start Mom's Comfort Fantasy Lit together as soon as we're done with Public School Superhero, which she got for her birthday.

Clever is good.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

"No-one Expects You to Be 100%..."

...except me, of course.

Yes, I know it's silly for me to expect it of myself, and in my head, I don't.

In my gut there's a different story.

But today one of the mentors told me that, in those exact words, and it was something of an epiphany.

Because that situational introversion I told you about a week or so ago? It still holds.

How do you natural introverts do it? I mean, the Friendly part of the Smart, Friendly, Fast credo of Advanced Tech Support at AT&T is the (usually) easy part for me. It takes no energy whatsoever, and I can in fact gain energy from it.

Usually being the key word, because today notsomuch.

I'm generally the other two as well (Smart and Fast can be taught), but I didn't really expect those to work well today.

The Friendly I expected.

And I did do it.

But it was freaking exhausting.

I have tomorrow off though, and then I work Thursday, and then I have Friday and Saturday off.

Thanks for the epiphany, J. And thanks for the oven cleaning help, Mom.

Because tomorrow I have a friend coming over, and now I don't have to do a lot, because the oven is clean (and safe) and the Oh-My-God-I'll-Never-Be-Able-To-Deal-Again ordeal is over and done with. Thank Google.

It'll take time, but I'm pretty sure I got this.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Heigh-Ho, Heigh-Ho

Yep.

It's that time again.

Going back to work tomorrow.

I feel a whole lot better - more confident, less weepy, less scared - than I did this time a couple weeks ago. The depression-induced introversion is still there, but I can handle three days of work, and - more to the point - I'm recovered enough to not bring down my entire team with me. Or to mouth off to customers and get myself fired, lol.

Likely I'll really want my cozy nest after work and on my days off; I'm probably not up to going out with friends for a while, not when I'm working too.

But I need the income, and I need the routine. (And I have safety nets in the form of FMLA and Ativan should I need them, but I don't think I will, or not the latter anyway; I haven't taken an Ativan or even half of one in almost two weeks now).

I have three lunches packed, laundry and dishes running, and tea steeping.

I'll probably need a couple hours or so once I get there for going through email, learning about the iPhone 7, stuff like that before I get on the phones, But I do like being on the phone with customers.

And I'm looking forward to it.

Wish me luck!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Happy Birthday to Her

Miz Liz had a very low key birthday party / playdate this afternoon.

So.

Much.

Fun.

And how well do her friends and her friends' parents (and her sisters' friends) know our little Girly Geek?

From Leanna, her mom, and Leanna's friend, she got a cute little figurine that is called Sir Hoots-a-Lot; he's the pet for the Monster High character Ghoulia Yelps. They also got her a huge set of Squinkies 'Do Drops, which are teeny little toys with exchangeable (hair)dos.


Remember when Lizzy and Abby were both in Studio East's production of 'Twas the Night for 2015? They have an adult watching the littlest kids between scenes, and Lizzy's favorite of these adults (because she makes balloon animals and she was just "really nice") happens to be the mom of one of Abby's favorite SE friends, K. They brought Lizzy a Balloon Animals Kit, which all the kids spent the rest of the afternoon using.

There was a crystal growing kit from Abby's other SE friend who attended, A, and a planetarium projector from Lizzy's friend S from school and Girl Scouts. Another Scout friend brought a sampler of gifts, a book about superheroes, a Teen Wonder Woman action figure, and a Build-your-Own Dreamcatcher necklace. And our lovely neighbor friends from down the street

Wow.


This is in addition to the special things and doings and such from her little cousin (Chubby Puppies! Kitten) and her grandparents (clothes and outings and books and you name it) and others who love her (a STEM subscription from TinkerCrate, a homemade pillowcase, the Girls' Book of Adventure, and others).

A really good time was had by all, and Lizzy's addiction to SCIENCE was satisfied.




Thursday, September 8, 2016

"In This House..."

...we do <insert thing here>

There are holiday ones, family ones, etc. My good friend +Tiffany Downes posted one on her Facebook page the other day.

It was of the "we do Geek" variety.

I loved it, but there were a few fandoms missing on hers that I wanted, and a few on her example that don't apply to us (like Winter is Coming; I know the reference, but the kids aren't anywhere near old enough yet).

So I went looking on Etsy for one that had what I wanted.

I didn't find one, but I did find C. Coleman Graphics, and the proprietor was kind enough to customize one for me. She used the correct fonts for each fandom (and I was seriously impressed at the ones she knew; some of them require a very specific geek knowledge to get). So I ordered the one she designed for me as a graphics file.

For my birthday (later this month) I plan to have it printed and framed, and I will hang it on the wall opposite my front door.

I'm not going to post the actual file here, with the special fonts and all; if you want one, order your own from Ms Coleman (not that Ms Coleman). But I'll post our final text.

IN THIS HOUSE
We believe in Magic
in Middle-Earth and Mordor
Once Upon a Time and in a
Galaxy Far Far Away
Here the question is Doctor Who?
and the answer is 42
We know that this guy are sick,
the Candyman Can
and our Princess is in another castle
We get to the Labyrinth
through a Wardrobe or a Looking-Glass
We aim to misbehave
and we don't care what Muggles think
Undomesticated equines 
could not remove us
We never give up, never surrender
even when we're mostly dead all day
because in this house
WE DO GEEK


Wednesday, September 7, 2016

She's Got a Golden Ticket!

Not exactly; she's not one of the five Ticketholders.

But Abby is an Oompa Loompa (and probably random classmate/candyshop kid) in Studio East's upcoming production of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (note: Abby is in Cast A if you want to see her). 

To her this feels like she got all five Golden Tickets; she's so excited about it (and she got her favorite math teacher and she got both Advanced Drama and Beginning Art as eight grade electives) that she couldn't stop talking. She's a motormouth anyway, all three of us are, but this was exceptionally fast and babbly even for her.

These are huge Good Things for her.

And although yesterday was stupid-busy for me, I did okay too. Which is saying something, given my last blog post.

Let's see, what all happened yesterday...?


  1. Got Lizzy off to her first day of third grade.
  2. Abby and I went to the bank and finished clearing up all the close-Laston's-account-and-transfer-bills-to-my-account stuff.
  3. Then we went to the store to return an outfit I bought for Lizzy but was too small when we tried it on. We exchanged it for another and also bought donut holes for Lizzy's birthday celebration at school.
  4. Went to the doctor to pick up the completed epi-pen release form that we dropped off last week. This is where we hit our first snag. The girls' doctor is on vacation and her MA hadn't gotten the form to the substitute doc before the MA too went out of town.
    1. An aside - why doesn't our local branch of PacMed keep the local school district's medication release forms on file? They told me this happens every year; shouldn't they have them? Even if it was only for the school district in which the particular branch is located (like Northshore for PacMed Bothell, or Lake Washington for the Totem Lake branch) it would be easier.
    2. In any case, we go to the school (all the way across town, as the Northshore district is fairly rural) and tell the nurse we need her to fax the form and have it faxed back. She is happy to do this.
  5. While there, we mention in passing to the attendance office that we haven't received a course schedule yet. Did the potential-but-unrealized strike delay things? Um... Mrs Kirkland; you were supposed to come to the back-to-school fair and get it there. It was a couple weeks ago (yeah, we had other things on our minds at the time). Okay, can we get it now? Sure, just wait for the eighth grade counselor to come out of his office and he'll get it for you. (Another counselor got it before he was done).
  6. By this point I'm starting to wear a bit thin; I keep catching myself wringing my hands and having to consciously take deep breaths. So Abby and I go to lunch at Mongolian Grill, where we make good choices by abjuring rice and limiting fortune cookies and drinking water.
  7. Went to the elementary school to distribute donut holes to Lizzy's class. First Day Madness in full effect. Thank Google for Abby, who - while she feels awkward wearing a Visitor badge at the school she attended - is picking up some of my people-ing slack.
  8. Ran by my work and ordered some tamales from our HACEMOS Employee Resource Group. This did not require much conversation and I was remarkably calm in the workplace.
  9. Got home and collapsed in an exhausted and temporarily-introverted heap on the couch. It only took five hours to reduce me to this, but they were very busy hours, with some complications that would have undone me this time last week. Watched some TV with Abby. Fell asleep.
  10. Sent Abby to take out garbage and get Lizzy at school bus stop. Made breakfast for dinner (scrambled eggs and country potatoes)
  11. Took Lizzy to mom's. Took Abby to Parent Meeting and First Rehearsal at Studio East. Did okay except for a little hand-wringing when phrases like "life happens" were uttered by Studio East staff (they have no way of knowing this is currently an anxiety trigger for me). Then I got hugged by another parent and fell apart just a little bit. Each successive hug was a bit easier. 
So, did it exhaust me like it did last blog post? Yes, although I feel rather less fragile. Those eggshell cracks I glued up with an extra week and a half off seem to be stronger than the pre-crack eggshells. I feel much more confident about returning to work soon, probably Sunday or Monday. And I do still have an FMLA safety net if I get overwhelmed.

So maybe I got a Golden Ticket too. Or at least a Bronze, maybe a Silver.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Depression and the Homebody

I've always been a bit of a homebody, in spite of my ridiculously outgoing personality and extroverted take on life. As a rule I'd rather host than be hosted.

But because I am that cheerfully friendly extrovert, I've never really minded going out, especially if there were friends available to hang out with, game with, talk to; I enjoy people.

Lately, notsomuch.

Oh, I still enjoy people. I just want to enjoy them while I'm safely in my own little nest, or one of the few places that may as well be, like my mother's house.

So I am looking forward to the guests I'm having this evening, and time at my mom's tomorrow for Lizzy's birthday, and possibly another guest tomorrow night (it's end-of-the-summer-sleepover-weekend, you know).

I dreaded the elementary school meet-and-greet on Thursday (although I'm certainly comfortable there, and it was fine, if exhausting.Same with the ear-piercing for Miz Liz: exhausting).

Even taking Abby up to her dad's this weekend was tiring, and that was just driving (albeit in a thunder-squall, which - in spite of Seattle's reputation - doesn't really happen all that often).

This is probably exactly why my attendance manager and my team manager convinced me that I wasn't ready to go back to work last Tuesday. I'm completely comfy in my workplace, to the point where I can fall asleep in the break room. But it was really hard for me to be there (and probably hard on my lovely coworkers, who have serious empathy and just wanted to figuratively cuddle me).

Is temporary introversion a common part of depression? I don't know; usually my depression is seasonal and mostly revolves around irritability. Just ask my ex-husband, LOL; I was not my usual cheerful RavenPuff (or HuffleClaw, seriously, take the test) self from October through March or so most of the time we were married.

Heck, even Laston would probably have agreed with that assessment, although he'd talk around it so as not to hurt my feelings.

It's not just me either. Leanna's still at Numb (the memorial seems to have made some of the Numb wear off for me, which I think is why the depression is much worse this week than it was this time last week). Abby doesn't want to talk about it (though she may be talking to her friends). Lizzy is swinging between her normal cheerful bouncy self and an unusually strong manifestation of her scared self, which is why I wrote this on Facebook and G+ this morning:

Dear Abby,
Please do not read your little sister Goosebumps stories anymore, no matter how not-scary they are in your opinion.
Love, Mom.

In any case, we seem to all be at Exacerbated-Normal; like my homebody-ness, Abby's conflict-avoidance, and Lizzy's bedtime-fears are worse than usual. Eggshells everywhere.

And as always, writing it out helps me, at least.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Weird

Depression is weird.

Lizzy and I were out for three hours; we got her ears pierced and went to another store in the mall; then we went to lunch.

I'm freaking exhausted.

Three hours.

Oh, we did a lot in that time. Ear piercing, picking out other accessories; they were buy three get three free, so she got more earrings for when they're healed and a set for Abby. She also got a headband, a very girly diary, pink polka-dotted earbuds for her Kindle, and some other small accessories. Then we went to the bathroom and there is a game store on the way, so I replaced my Kingdom Hearts games (the PS2 is bye-bye and the PS2 games don't work on the PS3 unless you get the remastered version or the downloads).

We went to our favorite sushi restaurant and the owner gave her free Mochi because birthday celebration.

Then we came home to find her birthday gift from her dad's parents had arrived; some really cute outfits and cash and a card.

And I'm totally wiped out.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

What Now?

Laston, my dad, and me in April 2016
Yesterday's memorial - in all its informal glory - was really, really nice.

There was no drama (Leanna's mom and I agreed today that we were both concerned there might be) and lots of lovely conversation about everything from birth to death.

We had serious amounts of food and non-alcoholic drinks (the gentleman who planned to raise a glass of SoCo and sweet tea couldn't make it due to health issues). People brought gift baskets (lots of fresh produce from people's gardens) and flowers (ditto) and wrote lovely little memories about Laston on these scroll-looking papers I put out (we're going to compile those along with the ones my friend +Tim Bruhn (Yang) found on FB and G+, and the GQotD/GSotD ones from +Charlie Hoover, and make a book). My dad made a slide show, which I YouTubed.



It was kind of beautiful watching my dad and some friends try to get all that working from dad's MacBook to my older flat-screen TV. The HDMI was easy enough but there was some format tweaking required. Laston would've loved it.

Miss Leanna got to have her father's computer and desk and chair, and the full-time denizens of Chez Kirkland have rearranged and are in the process of organizing the space that was Laston's office and is now becoming the kids' homework/arts & crafts room. It's about half done and I discovered the most amazing thing: with the laptop over here I can print again!

So Abby now has access to printable monologues for her auditions again, and I can print all my own forms for school and work and whatnot.

My mother will be relieved.

Now, my issue is this: apparently all the anxiety and stress and depression of the past three weeks came crashing down today, when tomorrow is my first scheduled day back at work. I'm also still stupid frustrated with little things: a bug bit nearly undid me, and I'm about ready to throw my newly printing laptop through the window if it doesn't let me back into my OneDrive account.

This is a problem, because Google only knows what will make me lose it at any given time right now; I fear for a whiny customer with slow data.

For three weeks I slept like crap every night. Last night I slept for twelve hours, got up, ran some errands, and went back to bed for an hour before starting work on the room. Now, I have a call into the HR people and my direct manager (poor lady; she was my manager for all of a week when this all went down) to see if I can get a work accommodation (like FMLA for me and the girls, or the Washington State equivalent) so I can take a few hours off here and there without penalty to my attendance record.

I'm sure I can; they've been nothing but kind and understanding through the whole mess. But it's more damn paperwork and possibly a doctor visit or two to show that I (or Lizzy or Abby) need it.

Gluh.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

Two Weeks Later

Or it was yesterday.

I'm typing this on Laston's computer, as I clean it out to give to Leanna, our oldest daughter. She doesn't need - as an example - my social security number or some of the racier (read Boris Vallejo) pix Laston had on his system.

When I'm done cleaning it out, I'm going to give it to Leanna, complete with desk, chair, and all the accessories. I got a different desk (with gift cards, thank you very much) and I am going to set up what was Laston's office area as a homework-and-arts-&-crafts space for the kids; the younger two all the time, and Leanna when she is here. That means that Abby's easel will be accessible again, there will be a set place for school backpacks, and the girls can find their own damn markers and scissors instead of searching the house for them.

As always, the people in our lives have been so supportive (in addition to the gift cards with which I bought the desk, which I received nearly two weeks ago).

Yesterday I had one of those more positive ways or relieving anxiety in the form of a massage.

I've been lent a number of books (and bought a few on the cheap) in the Cozy Mystery and Historical Romance genres (I enjoy them, and I just don't have the brain power for my usual deeper science fiction at the moment; I'm looking for escape here).

My mom has the kids at her condo as per usual this time of year, so I have had the leisure time to do some grieving without feeling like I need to be Strong for the Kids.

My boss is trying to get me what they call a Work Accommodation for the first few weeks back, as I'm not sure I can handle four ten-hour days just now.

So thank you, all of you, for your support, whatever form it took.

I look forward to seeing some of you at the memorial open house on Saturday. Eleven to four. I have ice, cups, assorted waters, and fruit/veggie trays; if you want something else, please do bring it along. And leave space in your cars; the yard sale was a bust and if you'd like a keepsake in the form of a movie or a PS2 game or a comic book or three (don't worry; they're all newish and not worth money), or even some handed-down clothes for the kids, they'll be available.

And I think that rearranging his office and having you-all over to raise that glass will help with the grieving process too...


Saturday, August 20, 2016

Memorial as a Celebration of Life

I'm posting this as I try to hold a yard sale on a semi-rural street during a heat wave when no self-respecting Seattleite wants to be outside. And someone stole the A-frame signs the neighbor who organized the neighborhood yard sale had out, so there's very little traffic. But we have a nice little breeze and a shaded porch and a nearly-nine-year-old playing with the early birthday gift of assorted My Little Ponies that we picked up on sale yesterday.

Anything we don't sell I guess we can keep long enough for the memorial we're holding next week; maybe some of our friends and family can use clothing, DVDs, newer graphic novels (Marvel, mostly), PS2 games, or assorted kitchenware.

This post serves as an official invitation to anyone who wants (and is able) to come to that memorial; it's a pot luck open house celebration of life at my house a week from today. We're shooting for 11:00 AM to 4:00 PM; we're not sure how much we can handle in our current state.

If you don't know how to get here, message me and I'll get an address and directions to you; I'm not so depressed as to forget my Internet Safety Rules and post it for the world to see.

I don't really have a plan; it's fairly free form. If you are inspired to say a few words, raise a glass in Laston's honor, play a hand or two of Munchkin, we're here for that. (At the moment I'd also accept tripping the young man from down the street who rides his motorized scooter up and down the road; I want that noise gone).

Book Signing at a Norwescon
A caveat; if you choose to bring food, please make sure it's either nut-free or well-labeled (or both); I would really rather not see the hospital again, well, ever. Certainly not right now, and the last time Abby had a cashew, well...

If you can't make it because of time or distance or health or inability to cope, please feel free to post on this thread; I have two friends who are compiling such things and printing them as a memorial book. Or you could buy a book or give to colon cancer research (links in the sidebar, although I think they do not show up on all mobile versions of the site).

So come on over, if you feel you can. We'll be glad to see you.


Monday, August 15, 2016

The Temporary Normal

Depression Awareness Ribbon
It's going to take us a long time to get back to anything approaching a new normal, but I can see us making stabs at it already. In the meantime we're in that limbo known as situational depression, where normal and even funny things happen but the eggshell fine is still pretty cracked.

For those who are worried about our emotional well-being, well. we're getting there. We've been watching a movie - mostly Disney classics with a little Harry Potter thrown in for good measure - almost every night, and tonight (as Lizzy and I are reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince) we had a little catharsis in discussing Sirius' death and the implications of survivor's guilt.

Even Lizzy at not quite nine groks that survivors' guilt is irrational but very very real. As is the depression (not rational, but reasonable) and anxiety and the symptoms thereof. Irritability is a big one; I find myself shouting at the kids for such heinous crimes as Being Thirteen (eye rolling) and Being Eight (random wiggles).

I have medication to help me with this one; half at Ativan when I'm feeling especially overwhelmed and at bedtime seems to do the trick. Ativan is in the same class of drugs as Xanax. I don't really like taking it - even at half a dose - because I prefer other ways of reducing anxiety. But sometimes one needs a chemical boost in the short term.

Those other ways? For me it's mostly keeping busy. That means getting kids' school stuff ready (mostly done), setting up our booth for this week's neighborhood-wide yard sale (half done) and extreme housecleaning (almost done, mostly by friends and family).

And the friends and family are helping in more ways than that. This week for instance I have friends coming over here to provide moral support and company (that is not comprised of children at whom I am shouty) on Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday; on Wednesday my mom is coming over in the afternoon while my sister takes Abbs shopping. I have two sets of friends working together to make a memorial booklet based on all the nice things that have been said about Laston for those less tech-friendly among us (like Laston's parents). And that doesn't even take into a ccount the lovely things done by people already.

Sunday Abby will be coming back from her dad's and I'll take the kids to my mom's time share as they do every year, and I hope to return to work on Monday (the 22nd). Not only do I need the money, but I think with the kids gone for the week, I'll want something like work to distract me from the temporary normal, as depressing as it is.

On Saturday the 27th, everyone who loved Laston (or loves someone who did) is invited over for a potluck open house memorial. Nothing formal, but if you want to say a few words, raise a glass, play a round of Munchkin, whatever in his honor, you are welcome. Those of you who need to know how to get here, please message me.

Just clearly label foods please, if you bring some; I never want to see that hospital again if I can manage it.