Monday, October 25, 2010


Now that I have committed to a schedule for the next two years (terrifying, isn't it?) I am trying to look ahead to see what changes I will need to make in my life to let this be as easy as possible. I also have to look at my girls and how the schedule changes will affect them, as well. There are so many things to consider - sleep times, meal times, hours that I am available to be around for my kids, and hours I am able to devote to DH alone. What kind of schedule will be needed to make sure I can juggle all my hearts and keep them all going on course?

Culinary school is going to be so cool, I can hardly wait the two weeks until the first day of class. Actually, for me, it will be the first evening of class. I had to choose a 7:00pm-11:30pm class schedule. Ok, I didn't HAVE to, but it just made sense. Originally, I was going for the 3:00pm class time, but the afternoon courses were not available for my start date. I have already waited 6 weeks longer than I wanted to, and changed my major from Baking and Patisserie to Culinary Arts, just to be able to work this into my life. Also, waiting any longer would have meant I needed to fill out all the financial aid paperwork again, and that is just a real pain when you have already accepted the grants. I could have opted to take one of the morning classes, but they start at 7:00am, or 8:30am. Yeah, um... that's not going to work for me. I will have to drive more than an hour to get to class every day, and attempting to do that at 6:00, or even 7:00 in the morning is just waiting for disaster. I KNOW me. I have never been a morning person and lately, I haven't even been a mid-morning or noon person, either. Besides that, leaving that early would mean my girls would have to get themselves out the door to school every day and I just don't think they are quite capable of that yet. They will be able to someday, I'm sure, but they are still learning and they don't have the best teacher in the "Getting ready to go on time" department.

Recently, I tried to figure out where my days go to and why I never seem to get anything I want to do done. Mostly, it is because I try to fit my day into the normal 8-5 schedule but my brain and sleep pattern just doesn't work that way. One problem is, I have gotten used to staying up later and later with DH. It doesn't bother him to be up until midnight or later most nights. He doesn't work until 10:00am so on the mornings he doesn't have a commute, he can get plenty of sleep and still stay up that late. I find anytime I can spend with him is precious, even when we are just in the same room on separate computers, so I tend to take advantage of those late night moments. Besides, I absolutely hate going to bed alone, so I tend to wait up for him no matter what. Thankfully, DH doesn't have nearly as much trouble as I do waking up and being functional so most mornings getting the kids up and out the door is his main responsibility. When do I have to get up to help the girls get to school, I end up coming home and going back to bed for at least a little while.

Even when I am asleep at night and awake during the day, I have noticed that I am most active and alert during the afternoon to evening hours. I might be in a brain fog all day, and then 5:00 hits and WHAM! suddenly I am awake and alert. Maybe it is because I don't really have a reason to be interactive during the day since I am either alone at home, or alone with DH and he is taking calls (and therefore considered "Unavailable" to me.) Maybe it is because in order to get to sleep at night, I have to be really, really tired or I have to resort to chemical aids. (sleeping pills, you ninny! What did you THINK I meant?) and I sometimes wake up groggy, even after 8 hours of "sleep." Perhaps, the Fibromyalgia just drains all my energy and I have to work up the energy to do anything productive during the day.

In any case, I haven't been able to successfully get myself up and out the door for a regular 8-5 job for many years now. Even when I was able to work at a job, I found myself being most productive at the end of the day. I think it's time I just quit fighting it. If I am an afternoon/evening person, why not structure my daily schedule around that? ("That's brilliant!" I said to myself.) Why not use this tendency to my advantage? When I was offered the ability to go to school during my most productive hours, it just seemed to make sense. Upon further reflection, I realized that getting a Culinary Arts degree should lead to a job in a restaurant or other food service establishment. While you can find some place that is open almost any time of day, the really high-end, five-star establishments make their reputation by serving primarily in the evening. So, where is all the to be money made? Not breakfast or lunch, but DINNER! And, it happens to be my favorite meal anyway, since you have the excuse to follow it up with dessert, which would be my favorite meal if I could get away with it. But, I digress...

I think I accidentally stumbled on the best solution for me as a career! By searching for a way to make one dream come true,  I have found a way to be as successful as I can be turning my "limitations" into "advantages." For the next two years, I will be fine tuning my ability to perform at my best between the hours of 7:00 and 11:30 at night. Once I graduate, I will be able to use this skill to secure a job that will pay me well and I will be able to succeed at. I know that this isn't the traditional schedule for a "Mom", but I am hardly a traditional person. My kids are already accustomed to my slow mornings and afternoon naps. It won't very difficult for them if I were to make this my "official" schedule (they probably won't know the difference anyway.) It also means I can stop beating myself up for being a lazy person and then trying extra hard to make up for it later in the day. I can make reasonable expectations of myself and then I can actually meet my goals instead of setting myself up for failure by creating an unrealistic schedule.

Recently, I have started looking forward to a new and exciting career. I used to imagine myself five or ten years from now and it just seemed kind of... sad. I had resigned myself to the fact that work would only ever be a way to make money so I could enjoy my life outside of work. I thought that I would always wind up working jobs that I was capable of, even if I wasn't particularly passionate about it. The majority of my waking hours would be spent passing time until I could be free and do what I REALLY wanted to do. That's kind of a sad way to live, don't you think? Shouldn't your main goal be to find something that you LOVE so that your work can be as exciting and full as every other part of your life?  (what a concept?!?)

Yes, that SHOULD be my goal, an now I really think I could enjoy my work as much as I enjoy everything else. Now, I have dreams of working as the top chef or even pastry or dessert chef in a fancy restaurant or hotel (at least until I am able to get enough experience to feel comfortable running my own place.) I can just imagine, it's dinner time on a busy Friday night. I've been working in the kitchen preparing delectable dishes for customers who appreciate my fine culinary style. Then, I hear that my family is in the dining room. After I take a brief moment to greet them as I make the rounds in the dining room (as all good chefs should) I am able to serve them the same amazing food I have been making all night. My kids will see me at work and see my happiness and success, and I will feel proud of what I do. Who could really ask for more than that?

Deb "The Chef"

Thursday, October 21, 2010


Sorry I have been missing around here lately. I have a whole lot on my plate! That is not a complaint, it's more of an accomplishment, actually.

First, me. I am still fighting something and I still don't know what it is. The headaches are better, but the muscle pain isn't, and the joint pain is worse. It feels like something is attacking my joints on the inside and when it gets tired of chewing on one part, it moves somewhere else. For awhile, it was my lower back, then it moved down to my knees and ankles. Then it moved up to my shoulders and caused me to take months off work. I thought it was pretty well settled down, until last week when my fingers started swelling. I had to pull off my wedding band because I was afraid it would have to be cut off before too much longer. (For reference, my rings used to be too big for me. I had to wear little spacer thingies.) Whatever was going on in my hands also showed up in my elbows and shoulders (again) and it stayed around for three days or so. It hurt to move my arms, or grip a pencil, or even walk.  At one point, the only comfortable position was lying on my back with my hands propped up. I spent my entire weekend like that, actually.

So, in my quest to defeat this, I've messed around with meds, tried cutting out certain foods and ingredients, I have even tried pushing on and ignoring it (yeah, THAT was successful...) Now I am turning back to the docs and letting them have another stab at it, literally. Tomorrow I will go to get the ever dreaded ALLERGY TEST (dun dun duuuunnn.) I haven't had this done before, but I understand that the procedure involves pricking the skin up and down your back with allergen loaded needles and then the doctor watches to see which one of the dots gets most inflamed the fastest. And you can't touch them (because they are in the middle of your back,) and it will itch wherever it shows you are allergic to something, and you can't take anything to make it stop until several hours after the test. I think this has to be pretty close to cruel and unusual punishment. I seriously wonder which backwards torture specialist thought of this thing.

While I am not too keen to do this, and I know there is an easier way to do it, I am agreeing to it because of a few things. First, I love my doctor. She is kind and compassionate (usually,)  but very professional and extremely capable (something I haven't been able to say about many doctors over the last 7 years.) The second reason I am willing to undergo this tortuous procedure is because she is a double specialist in allergies and rheumatology, and she knows what she is doing. She is able to look at things from more than one perspective, which in this case, is highly valuable because so many of the problems are related at the core of it. The third reason I will do this is that I have already had so many other tests run on me, there aren't too many left to do to figure out WHY I hurt so much. If I can figure out that bread and dogs cause an allergic reaction then, I will know to stay away from bread and dogs and maybe I can get back to my life again. (It's good to have goals, you know?)

Beyond that, I am getting VERY close to the start date for college. Today, I will take the Math portion of the entrance exam (yes, I know I should be studying instead of writing) and get measured for my school uniforms. I am so stoked about this! Next weekend I will go to the orientation and receive my books, uniforms, and the tool kit (the knives!!!!) On Nov 8, I will start attending classes at this rather elite, international culinary university and I will be on my way to realizing my dreams!

On the flip side of that, is the mountain of fear that is right in front of me, telling me that I shouldn't even try. If I can't make it through three days without pain, how am I going to make it through two years of classes? My track record on professional endeavors has not been to stellar, lately. There is much more evidence to say I will fail than that I will succeed. Why do I think this time will be different? I have no clue. All I know is that I am running out of options. School is at least a different direction than I have failed in before. That has to count for something, right?

I am also worried about how the kids are going to handle my going to school. When I am home, I have a hard time struggling with whether I am babying them, or neglecting them. In either case, I have at least been home to do (or not do) what needs to be done. Now, I will be gone all day. They will have to make it home on their own (three whole blocks,) and they will have to take care of certain things to make sure the evenings run smoothly (instead of dinner at 9:00 and bed at 10:00 without a bath.) They haven't been very reliable at this over the last few months. Is it because I am doing everything and not letting them take responsibility? Or is it because I have not been giving them the proper guidance to let them learn how to do it themselves? Whatever the reason, I am very concerned that I will come home every day to a disaster.

Now, DH has been able to work from home three days a week since we moved to The Country.  On one hand that means he will be home three out of five days. On the other, that means that he will be working until 7:00pm those days and he has to trust the girls to be absolutely quiet while he is on the clock. If customers hear background noises that point to him working from home (and not the office) then he could lose his work-from-home privileges and we will be back to seeing him only on weekends. I am not sure how the girls will react to him being home, but unavailable, without my being here to referee. Frankly, this worries me quite a bit.

Well, it is time for me to make the last preparations and head out the door to the school. If you are the praying type, I would really appreciate a prayer or two. If you're not, just send positive thoughts my way, or skin a tree and burn a rabbit (whatever it is you do,) for successful completion of my exam and an influx of common sense and intelligence for my girls.
If I make it through this, I will hold a grand feast in your honor!

Deb "The Future Chef"

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Slightly Political

Sorry guys, I have to get this off of my chest.

Yes, protesting at funerals should be banned. 

It sounds ridiculous to even have to state it, but there is a small, but very vocal church from Kansas, doing just that. Anyone who wants to look it up will find this subject prominent in the news today. This group thrives on publicity and hate and I don't want to propagate that any further.  I am struggling with even publishing this because I don't want to give them any more attention than they deserve. I am just so burned up that there is even a question on this that has to go before the Supreme Court, that I can't get it out of my mind.

The issue is that, whether the person being buried was military, civilian, religious, criminal, purple, or liked Furries, their families should still be allowed to say goodbye to their loved ones in peace. Funerals are private functions. They may be held in semi-public venues (churches and graveyards) but that shouldn't allow for strangers to come and disturb the gathering in an effort to defame the deceased, in spite of your freedom to think and say how you feel. Funerals are also usually considered a religious ceremony. Freedom of religion is just as important as freedom of speech, which is the Amendment this organization is using to validate their attendance and protesting at funerals of fallen soldiers.

My opinion is that certain things are sacred and should be respected. The families are grieving not only the death of a loved one, but also the loss of a brave solider, sailor, airman, or marine that died during active duty. Now, in the midst of their pain, they also have to see the picket lines and hear the bigoted chanting of a group that never even knew the fallen. While parents and children are burying their dead, this group of Religious Extremists holds protests before, after, and even during the funeral and burial ceremonies in an effort to add insult to an already suffering family. The father of one fallen marine has been forced to sue them for emotional damages since the only thing they are technically doing is being disrespectful.

Unfortunately, you can't pass a law requiring respect. Legally, you can only require that civility is practiced. It isn't always pretty that way, but it works. Here in the South, there are still people who view others of different color as less than themselves. They are allowed to think whatever they like (no matter how backwards it is) but they are not allowed to act on that bigotry. That is against the law and is considered a Hate Crime. Unfortunately, the group I mentioned before is filled with lawyers from the top on down, so they know what they are doing and they know how to work the system. (Strangely enough, the pastor was once a famous Civil Rights lawyer.) They use whatever rules they can to justify themselves yelling hateful (and slanderous) remarks about the soldiers during their protests.  They secure permits to assemble and protest, so technically, they are not gathering illegally. They claim that they are simply exercising their right to speak their minds.

The signs they use have the most shockingly horrible things that can be written - God Hates America, God Hates Fags, Thank God for Fallen Soldiers, AIDS cures Gays. Nothing could be more calculated to generate negative publicity and get people talking. They are very vocal in their belief that God is punishing America for its tolerance of homosexuality. How losing a soldier in the line of duty somehow equates to God punishing the country for Gays, I still don't get. But, I said they were lawyers, not necessarily SMART lawyers. (For the record I know several wonderful people who practice law and who are also very intelligent.)

So, this group declares they have Freedom of Speech and that gives them the right to assemble and protest what they feel. There are also laws again harassment, abuse, and slander that should be invoked as well. As many people have said today, you can't yell "FIRE" in a crowded theater and you can't burn crosses in someone's yard. Our Freedom to speak is already limited by law to encompass decency. Whether I agree with their message or not (for the record, I don't) they do have the right to their views, religion, and speech, even if it is bigoted and hateful, but they do not have the right to abuse others in the name of Freedom of Speech. If the government must permit the KKK to exist as a private organization, then we must allow this church from Kansas to exist, too. But just as the KKK can not have a lynch party, this church should not be allowed to harass families who are grieving from the recent loss of a loved one.

Some Americans are so upset about what this "church" has been doing that they have tried to combat them in a peaceful, yet effective way. A group that I am proud to name - The Patriot Guard - is a group of citizens, mostly motorcycle riders, who attend these same funerals and either make a physical barrier with themselves and American flags, or prevent the families from hearing the protest  by drowning the picketers out with their engines or with their own voices. While I am proud that so many wonderful people show up to support the families of the deceased, it is unfortunate that this group was inspired to exist at all.

So, if you want details, see what the news has to say about picketing at military funerals. Read whatever facts you can find and make your own decision. For me, if I had a motorcycle, I would be out with the Patriot Guard ensuring the safety and peace of families who have just lost a brave soldier who died defending our country.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Peace and Solitude

It has been pretty hard adjusting to life out here. I know I have said it before, but really, it IS hard - harder than I expected. I have made some progress, though, and I surprised myself with just how far I have come.

I have started working again, part time as a transcriptionist. I currently have three days a week on the schedule, but that changes all the time. I only work evenings, so I get to juggle helping get the kids ready for evening and getting myself out the door on time. Part of me really hates the hassle of it all. The kids always whine about my not being here, and of course, the Mom in me wishes I could be here all the time. The Grown-Up-Woman in me is very thankful for the opportunity to get out of the house, talk to adults, and actually make a little money as well.

I usually wrap up what I need to do between 11:00 and midnight, so I usually get home sometime between midnight and 1:00 in the morning. There was a time when even contemplating driving by myself, at night, for almost an hour would have freaked me out enough that I wouldn't have attempted it. When The Gray Monster decides to rear its ugly head, I have a hard time even going to the grocery store alone, so regularly being up and driving so late would have paralyzed me with fear. Something about the dark and being alone just sort of freaks me out. (I know it is irrational, but no one said depression was logical.) I live more than 20 miles away from the major highways. That means at least half of my drive home is through country roads that are lined only by farmland - no streetlights, stoplights, or even porch lights. I was afraid of falling asleep behind the wheel, or having an accident and not making it home, or most often I would fear the possibility of being hit with a headache or other pain so severe that it would impair my ability to drive safely.
Anyway, the breakthrough in adjusting to my new life came as I was driving home from work last week.
It was almost 1:00 in the morning and I realized, as I traveled through the dark and winding roads that there was no fear. I had no anxiety or nervousness at all. I was perfectly comfortable being by myself, in the dark, in the middle of the night. I looked out the window and I saw more stars in the sky than I would have ever been able to see in the city. Somehow, it was comforting to me. I looked in my rear-view mirror and I could see a soft glow on the horizon of the city lights that I left behind when I headed for Home. I felt calmed thinking of leaving the lights and noise and traffic behind me. The radio was on and I was singing along with all the songs, which is something I usually only do when I am happy and in a good mood. Suddenly I realized - I was happy to be heading home to my quiet house on the quiet street on the edge of a small and very quiet town.

I still miss the city - especially grocery stores, pharmacies, and gas stations - but I am willing to let all that go so that I can see the stars at night. There were so many days and nights that I felt trapped and slowed by being in the city - the traffic and the smog and the crowds of people I don't know and never will. Seeing groves of trees torn down to make way for gas stations and wild animals misplaced made my heart sick. I so often wished I could live somewhere that I could look up and see the red-tailed hawks flying over trees instead of being forced to perch on a streetlamp. I wanted my kids to be able to walk around their neighborhood and meet the other kids who lived nearby without fearing that they would be run over by a speeding car while crossing the street. Mostly, I wanted a more peaceful and a more simple life, where things moved slower. I wanted to feel less pressure to keep up with the neighbors and more encouragement to make friends with them.

I realized that I had been wishing and praying for years to have just the kind of life that I have recently been given. Sulking about the lack of a Starbucks and grouching about the prices at the corner grocery were not very productive, and my complaints were preventing me from embracing the prayers that were answered. My girls run out and play with the other kids on the street almost every night. The people on our street drive 15 miles an hour all the time. The houses are all somewhere between 50 and 150 years old and the trees are big and broad and healthy. I actually CAN look up and see hawks flying over the fields outside of town and hear the birds every day. We found out last night that we have bats living in the tree in the front yard! Yes, there are a lot more critters and bugs around, but they live outside instead of being forced into the walls of houses and building.

Since I have made the decision to go back to school in November and I am already working half the week, I realized that I am not "trapped" at all. I have plenty of opportunity to get what I need and go where I want, I just have to time it so that it is convenient and not wasteful. I will have all day during the week to be surrounded by the buildings and bustle of the metropolitan area. Every evening, I get to come home to the peace and serenity of my quiet, little home. If I want the selection and prices of major grocery stores, I can have them, I just need to make sure that I remember to bring my insulated shopping bags to the cool things cold on the way home. When it is 7:00 on a Sunday and all the grocery stores are closed, it is hard to remember that I made the choice to move out here. It is much easier to complain about how hard life is and wish for the convenience of a Taco Bell.

All the things I disliked in my life are being changed now, whether by choice or by force. Change is never easy, even when you want it, but easy isn't always good. For several years everything in my life has become difficult, painful, strained, and broken. From finances to health I have lost six years in a downward spiral. I've read that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. If I want a better life, to get out of the rut that was causing me to physically and mentally break down, and to be able to get back on my feet financially, I have to stop doing the same things over and over. Moving out here was a choice I made to try and change whatever it was that we were doing wrong and try to figure out how to do it right.

I think I might finally be able to wrap my stubborn brain around it now.