Friday, November 28, 2014

TToT54: American Thanksgiving Means Turkey and Shoppng...and House Painting?

We've stayed put this weekend. No travel, no exciting plans. So I did something I have never done on Thanksgiving Day--painted my living room gold. Well, part of it. I'm a little over halfway at this point.

Brian and I had this conversation Thanksgiving morning as I painted:
S: Your mother said something about maybe getting a ham instead of a turkey this year.
B (not really paying attention): I like ham.
S: Yeah, me too. I never can tell when she says something like that to me if she she's just speaking her thoughts aloud or if she wants me to weigh in and sway her in one direction or another. I went ahead and told her that I actually prefer ham.
B (suddenly alert): What? You don't want turkey on Thanksgiving?
S: Well, actually I mainly like the sides. But I prefer ham to turkey.
B: But you have to have turkey on Thanksgiving! 
I'm not convinced. I do like to have sweet potato souffle on Thanksgiving because it's basically pie filling pretending it belongs in the main course. I only allow myself to eat it once a year. But as far as other dishes, I don't hold too heavily with tradition. What does your family do?

You'll be glad to know my MIL served both. And I brought the sweet potatoes.

One and Two and Three (I'm counting the painting).

Four: I have asked for and will be granted the hambone and the turkey carcass. I can do a whole lot with those two.

Five. We have our tree! I am a sucker for all things Christmas and usually chomping at the bit (or "biting at the chomp," as Erin says on Facebook) for it by the Friday after Thanksgiving.

Six. Brian did not grumble even one tiny bit this year when I suggested that we get our tree this morning.

Seven. I got Blue Bell Homemade Vanilla and Cookies n Cream this evening. Sing it with me: "Blue Bell's the best ice cream in the country!" Might be what I miss most about TX. No, I miss my family a little more.

Eight. I avoided all shopping centers.

Nine: I did very little online shopping but found a present for my brother that makes me very excited.

Ten: Thanks to Brian and his Black Friday shopping, I am so close to being able to delete all my kids' apps off my phone and having room for my stuff again. I'm gonna upgrade my system and take all the pictures I want!

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Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Medication and the Anxious Girl

I've sat on this post for ages. Part of me sees public airings of what is most personal as the ultimate exercise in self-pity and self-promotion (in myself; somehow I can admire it in others). But when I asked Brian to read it over last night and tell me whether to publish, his question was, "Who's your favorite blogger?" So following Glennon's lead of no shame and total honesty, here's my story of anxiety discovery.

In the spring of 2012, I had a new baby, my husband had recently lost his job under extremely suspicious circumstances (read all about that here), and we were struggling to meet the needs of our older child with developmental delays. At a postnatal check-up, I dutifully filled out the required checklists: yes, I cry more than usual; yes, I worry all the time; yes, things seems hopeless. I thought nothing of these answers. Come on, who wouldn't cry or worry or feel hopeless in our circumstances?

As the appointment wrapped up, the midwife brought the conversation around to my answers and oh, so gently suggested those words...postpartum depression...and medication.

I dismissed them. I was sure it was all circumstantial. Once we pulled out of the mess we'd found ourselves in, I'd feel better. And there was no way I was considering medication.

But I did agree to see someone, and then a team of someones, and then one day I carried home from an appointment an important, doctor-signed little slip of paper with the horrifying word sertraline on it. I looked at it for a few days before filling the prescription. And then I looked at the little orange bottle for a few days before taking a pill.

And then I felt better immediately.

I don't really get that. An effect from 25 mg within 24 hours? It may have been all in my head. But as Albus Dumbledore said, "Of course it's happening inside your head, Harry, but why on Earth would that mean it's not real?"

A week or so later I said to my mother on the phone, "I didn't know people lived like this."

I didn't know.

I didn't know that most people in the world didn't live in a perpetual state of worry.

I didn't know that most people didn't live in a constant state of mild panic.

I had no idea there was another way to live...until I felt different.

And life did get better for us. My husband got a job, and we moved. We settled in to a new home; we found excellent services for our daughter; we made a new life. And through it all, I managed with the help of medication. I took my little pill regularly. Or, regularly enough to get an effect (don't scold).

But I hated it. I hate taking pills. I hate the idea of the foreign chemicals in my body. And I hate admitting that I can't do it myself. I am strong and smart and extremely capable. Why THE HELL can't I manage my anxiety through sheer force of will?

So I quit. And I thought I was fine. I didn't feel depressed, after all. But I ignored the signs of anxiety: the need for things to be just so and the quick temper when they weren't, the constant drive to do, do, do and never sit still in the moment. Those are my signs (or some of them).

I feel like I was an unoriginal copy of a character whose story you've read in books. The one who quits taking meds because he or she is fine when everyone else on the planet knows he or she is not fine.

And I was not fine. Fortunately, unlike on TV or in books, nothing drastic happened. Just something embarrassing:

I am a member of a women's only barbershop chorus, and I was a new member last spring, fumbling my way through the music, finding every moment I could to practice my part so that I could actually participate in the weekly rehearsals. One week, we were practicing one of our more difficult pieces, Route 66, which is both jazzy and barbershop in style with an especially difficult baritone part (that's mine). And I got more and more frustrated. I couldn't keep up; I couldn't find my place; I wasn't sure of my notes in spite of being so sure of them in my practice at home.

My face burned, and I felt a cold sweat break out on my back. To my horror, my eyes started to fill, making everything in the room blurry. In fact, nothing in the room seemed quite clear. The room was spinning and my hearing was fuzzy, and I knew I had better sit out for a minute and get myself in control.

Instead, I began to sob. Ugly cry, really. I could only take huge, gulping gasps as tears poured down my face. Poor Betty thought she taking a break to rest her knee and suddenly found herself sitting next to the newest member of the chorus having a nervous breakdown. "," I managed to get out between gasps.

But I couldn't. I finally gave up and escaped the practice room in mortification. I was 38 years old; why on Earth could I not control myself?
I know why. Even in the moment, I knew, This is a panic attack. I knew for sure, for the first time, that that was what was happening to me.

And that I'd had dozens before.

All those symptoms were terribly, horribly familiar. I could bring to mind specific instances in which I had fallen to pieces taking a timed test, or when my parents were leaving for the evening, or when I realized I did not understand place value like everyone else (in college--yes, I don't think I really got it until my late 20s when I happened to observe a really gifted math teacher).

And, so when I next went to the doctor, I brought up the topic of medication. She said the most comforting words I've ever heard about it:

If you responded that quickly to medication, you have a chemical imbalance in your brain. You need medication.

It was my epiphany. I have a chemical imbalance. It's not that I lack will or follow-through. My brain just is simply not constructed to be notanxious. It needs assistance.

So I take my meds. Most days, unless I forget. But when I do, I go back.

Come link up your wants or needs post with Josie:

Friday, November 21, 2014

TToT53: Starting Year Number Two with Lots of Hand-Me-Downs

Last night, Brian came home with armloads of his father's dress clothes. (For those who don't follow, Brian's father died in August.) Ties, sport coats, suits, pants. I love "dress up" even if it's not me; Brian, not so much.

During the sorting and trying on, this conversation ensued:
B: Why do you say these pants are nicer than my pants?
S: Because they're wool, and high quality men's dress pants are made with wool.
B: Oh, yeah, you once wanted me to buy a pair of wool dress pants for $80 when I could have bought a pair of polyester ones for $30! Crazy!
This is the man I married. Now, whether size 42 dress pants can even be tailored (reconstructed?) to fit a size 34 waist is debatable. But we'll find out since tailoring is a whole lot cheaper than new pants (and what would Brian say if he saw the non-sale price of a pair of high quality men's dress pants?), and Brian hasn't gotten any new work clothes for a couple of years.

I am thankful for this man who makes me laugh.

I am thankful he let me sort the ties. Most of them are pretty out of style and were placed in the discard pile, but now I am thinking of making a Christmas tree skirt with them (is it wrong to make a Christmas decoration with a Jewish man's ties?). Or remaking the seat (it's broken) of an antique children's rocking chair someone gave us (a different one, Dyanne). What do you think? Maybe there are enough for both?

And I am thankful for a husband who is so finance-savvy that he got us each Five Free Dollars this week! Don't laugh. Every little bit counts.

Did you see the #lookleftrightnow tags last week? I love that kind of thing, and when I saw it I happened to be sitting at my desk (one of my favorite places in our house) that I had just straightened it up a little. Of all the fortuitousness! So, I brazenly asked Lizzi to tag me, and then Sandy graciously did too, and here was my pic.

Wait, I can't find it. Weird.

But just the night before, I had been sitting in a chair in my living room (the one soon to be decorated with swirls of pink nail polish and has since been recovered--yay, me!) and looked up and thought, "I love this view. I love what I am looking at and just how much personal stuff there is to see from this angle. I am so happy with the way this part of my home is decorated."

And here is that pic:

I love Stuff. My version of decorating is sensory overload. I'd make a terrible Buddhist. I love my worldly things.

So, there are the rest of my thankfuls. All the old furniture, the plants Brian keeps alive, the very apparent existence of our children through their creations and play. All the handmade stuff. The color (especially once I get around to painting the living room).

Oh, and to be greeted with this in the morning? Priceless.
Also note recovered chair. Yay, me again!

Your turn! Let's hear 'em!

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Friday, November 14, 2014

TToT52: That's One Whole Year, Friends!

If I recall correctly, some of my earliest TToT posts were about leaf raking and shoe polishing, and here I am, nearly a year later (I believe I had a couple of double TToT weekends), raking leaves and noticing scruffy toes.

One year, folks, one year of thankful posts! That makes 520 written thankfuls (or less since I know I fudged a few times, but still).

It's been worth it. After all, I became a cohost through a couple of well-placed hints (or a straightforward offer), and I've met some truly worthwhile people: cohosts, regulars, and the occasional drop-in. The TToT, and the way people choose to write it, really can give an interesting (though not full, Clark) insight into people's lives.

So, let's call that #1-#5 because that's huge, admit it.

And let's call that the leaf truck came by the first day #2 because my piles didn't have time to blow away.

And for #3, I'll call on the moment I discovered that I had chosen to make paper poppies on a highly appropriate day. I really didn't think about it being Veterans' Day (or Remembrance, if you're of the British persuasion, Lizzi) until I was nearly done. But aren't they pretty? And appropriate?

An off chance gave me the motivation to relocate the large plastic storage boxes in our basement. I happened to open the one labeled Sarah-College and beloved light blue Tshirt that my mother once threw away and my father once rescued and is far too thin to wear in public (and why would I advertise an insurance company?) but holds happy memories and the faintest traces of paint handprints. I wrote a whole post about it, and at the time, thought it was long gone. But it turns out I put it in this plastic tub (where it hardly belongs) when we moved in to this house.

If you ignore the open drawer, unmade bed, and clothes on the floor, I'll someday show you a picture of my 25-year-old sweatshirt.

Oh, and I finished a major project: this Advent calendar for my sister. It's a near replica of one made by my maternal grandmother in the mid 70s for our family. I remade one for my sister's family, and am nearly done with the one for my own.

The downside of my week was when I heard my daughter cry, "I spilled my beautiful nail polish!"

Words you do not want to hear, amiright?

Let's just say I dropped those hotpads and ran. To discover large bubble-gum-colored circles adorning the hand-me-down chair I recovered all by myself a few months ago. Not that it was particularly well-done, but all by myself.


So, are you ready for the thankfuls?

After I stripped off the cushion covers and poured all the nail polish remover in the house on the stains, I emailed our neighborhood listserv asking for more bottles. Two people showed up at the door with nail poish remover to donate to the cause.

Not one of us passed out from the fumes.

Even though the stains set, and there was no budging them, I did get the nail polish off the floor, the chair frame, and the lamp.

And when I went to the fabric store the next morning, I found the fabric I needed in stock and bought enough to remake the cushion covers for $20.

Now comes the remaking. Ugh.

And so, how was your week?

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Saturday, November 8, 2014

TToT51: Food and Frames and Not Freezing

I am thankful to be back in prose again. I won't pretend that my participation in OctPoWriMo was any more than half-hearted at best, but I did meet my goal, so there's that. The only haiku I will be writing for awhile is for Zoe's contest.

In addition, I am thankful for:
  • Vinegar and how it contributes to the flavor of collard and cabbage dishes
  • Pickled garlic (could have fit in the vinegar category but it deserves its own)
  • Chocolate cupcakes
  • Goodwill and its selection of used picture frames
  • Spray paint and how it makes old pictures frames look new
I am thankful for the balls at Dick's Sporting Goods (and the fun of composing that thankful). But, seriously, I don't know why I've never thought of a sporting goods store when it comes to indoor fun. I suspect Dick's will see quite a lot of Leo and me this winter.

I am always thankful for a husband who cares not for public opinion (a good model for me) and who values comfort over fashion in all weathers.

And even though we've seen so little of him these days in a super busy time at work, I am thankful that he brings home the bacon so I don't have to.

What are you thankful for?

P.S. Look! I made those badge-y things!

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