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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.