Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Love is Free

Sitting here tonight, I realized that the best things in life are free, but the second best things cost a lot of money.
That said, I am thankful tonight to have so much of the "best" things. All three of my girls are in bed and (mostly) sleeping. My darling husband is in the other room chuckling at something on the Comedy Channel. I am drowsy but not in too much pain, and that is a vast improvement over the way the rest of the day has been going. Tomorrow I will being spending the day with my most awesome parents-in-law. Because we are so short on the "second best" things, they are bringing the whole dinner over here and will be spending the day with us cooking, watching football, and hanging out. Fun will be had by all and too much dressing will be consumed.

In a few more days, the massive hoarde of my side of the family will congregate here. We are expecting nearly 20 people from from toddlers to grandparent and everyone in between. My kids will get a chance to play with all their cousins all at once and I will get a chance to chill with all my sisters AND my dad. Everyone is pitching in and bringing goodies and I'll be working on a few delightful dishes of my own.

All I can say is, Thank Goodness we planned it for after Friday. One, because it's after payday which will allow a grander expanse of food and drink. Two, because cramming all of my family into just one day is simply insane. And three, because the weekend after Thanksgiving is murder for anyone traveling to, from, or around any retail or discount establishment anywhere. Being in North Texas, we have a mall, strip shopping center, and mega-gigantic-store just about every half mile, so that tangles up traffic something fierce. You would think that all these places to shop would mean that the crowds would be reduced instead of the other way around. That would be the case if everyone didn't try to shop at every store within a 30 mile radius of their homes, and if we weren't quite so high in population department. One thing I LOVE about living in The Country, is that all our neighbors will quite likely be traveling to the more developed areas for their shopping and will leave our little country stores alone for this weekend.

Since I am finishing up my third week of school, there has been just enough time for everything in the house to go completely insane. The house was a wreck and a mess, the laundry hamper was full, and the pantry is still empty. Little Heart has become decidedly un-enamored with having to cook dinner most nights. Tiny Dancer and Evil Genius have perfected their ability to badger their older sister and wreak as much havoc as possible. Throw into that mix a whole week out of school and you get complete and utter chaos. My Darling Husband has that Thousand Yard Stare going on. I'm wondering if he is going to explode or just heave a sigh and give up. The entire day was spent by me cleaning, tidying, and making ready for all the guests that are due. The kids did (mostly) their part of the duties and I will go to bed with a clean floor and a shiny sink. I haven't been able to say that for some time, now.

Even though it is making things so difficult around here, I refuse to give up and quit school. Right now, things are just getting interested. We have gone beyond trimming potatoes into funny shapes and are now learning the secrets to a Perfect Sauce. Someday, I am sure I will have the ability and the opportunity to create a perfect stock made from delicately roasted bones, veggies, and a delicate bouquet gardin. Until then, I am so thankful the rest of the world uses chicken broth.

I have decided that I don't have to agree with or embrace the techniques that I am learning in order to become the next Great Chef. What I really need is to know HOW to do all of this so I know what rules to follow and which ones to throw out the window. I have to believe that there is a happy balance between wasting 3/4 of your food to get a beautiful meal, and squeezing all you can get out of your ingredients and ending up with a sloppy, but yummy final product. That is what I am going to be searching for over the next two years. The Happy Middle Ground between what I am learning and what I know to be true.

I seem to be rambling on a bit, so I will wrap this up quickly. Cough syrup can do strange things to the mind.
For the record, I take no responsibility for anything written above, seeing as it is clearly marked and distorted by Codeine and Sudafed. I know, I know...that doesn't really excuse the past few months, but hey - give a girl a break for the Holidays?


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Guilt Sucks

I've got it. Most people do, for at least a little while every now and then. In fact, if someone doesn't have it -ever - that is when they become sociopaths.  So, at the root, guilt has its place and is actually kind of good. It is what keeps our actions in check when we don't get caught. All it takes is one really strong feeling of guilt after doing something before you will never want to do it again, or anything else that will give you that awful feeling.

Sometimes guilt gets out of hand, though. When you doubt your actions, you feel guilty. When you contemplate too much how every action will affect every other person in the world, you feel guilty. When you think about everything you could have done, but didn't, or didn't even think about, you feel guilty.
This kind of guilt is insidious, because you think to yourself, "If I just do THIS one more thing, then I will stop feeling guilty."
It doesn't work that way in real life, though. Trust me on this one.

I have guilt about everything I do or don't do, from the time I wake up until well after I go to bed. In fact, when I feel especially bad about something, I will DREAM about how guilty I am. Of course, that is only when I am not dreaming about incessant fears (tornado dreams, where I SEE the twister heading right for me and I can't do a thing about it,) or my anger issues (I have woken myself up yelling at someone and woken DH up by smacking him in my sleep.) In general, it doesn't sound like I have very much control over my emotions at all. Actually, I try too hard to contain these emotions and that is why they come out in dreams. But anyway, back to the point. Guilt.

All day long I am haunted by the things I did or didn't do today, or yesterday, or last week, or last year.
Intelligence dictates that I should let it go. Sure. Like I haven't tried THAT before. It seems like as soon as I have dealt with something sufficiently and moved on, something else will replace it. Normally I like to tackle this sort of thing logically. I have found that acting on the things I CAN deal with help to eliminate the guilt of the things I CAN'T. For instance, if I am at the grocery store and I bump into a stranger. I can apologize and try to be more careful but I can't really change the way she feels. This is a sensible method that works 30% of the time. You do the math. If I can't really release all of it, it just keeps building up until I have more guilt than anything else.

The length of time since the offense doesn't really make much difference. The severity doesn't matter, either. I feel just as bad about not doing laundry as I do about the time I waited until after Christmas to break up with a guy because I liked his parents and didn't want to skip the holidays at their house. The difference, of course, is that I could go do laundry and feel better, but there is absolutely nothing I can do to erase that horrible feeling every time I look at the jewelry box the guy's father hand made and personalized for me.

The feeling of guilt doesn't always show up on its own. It tends to piggy-back on whatever else I am doing until it finds a nice place to WHAM! hit me in the chest. I will be sitting on the computer, for instance, reading comics or food blogs and feeling Contented. In sneaks Guilt to remind me that I should have started dinner an hour ago. How about when I really crave something sweet, and then I find a mini chocolate bar in the bottom of my purse. The Surprise of the unexpected treasure and the Enjoyment of the treat are both quickly replaced by Guilt for eating something that isn't good for me, especially when I should be losing as much weight as possible. And, who could ignore the "guilt" part of Guilty Pleasure, like when I am listening to Justin Timberlake and singing along? Guilt doesn't creep in with just the positive feelings either. Maybe, I have had a tough day at school, failed a test, and made a fool out of myself in front of the class. The waterworks will start up and just when I think I am starting to feel better about letting the feelings go, that's when Guilt sneaks in and asks me if it is really fair to be throwing a fit and making everyone else worry about me.

I think it becomes worse when I am trying to attempt to do nice things for myself, even if there is a good reason for it. That sounds pretty twisted, but there it is. Let's say I have to chop potatoes into triangles for one of my cooking classes, so I decide to have potato soup for dinner to give me an extra chance to practice. Can you believe that even though my kids and husband love potato soup and I needed to use the potatoes for something before they went bad, I feel guilty because I forced them all to have this meal for my own personal reasons? Yep. I know how sick that sounds.

I have even found ways to produce more guilt for myself on a daily basis, which sounds a whole lot like accidental masochism. I feel bad because my house is a wreck, the laundry has piled up, the kids are starving, and I have piles of homework to do. To combat this I try to organize my thoughts and needs to I can prioritize them. (Seems smart.) So, I will write a list and detail the things that need to be done. (Still ok at the start.) Before long, my list has stretched from a few little things to dozens of things. (Uh oh, feeling a little bad now.) The next step is to figure out what to do first and next and so on. (Warning! Warning! That sinking feeling is creeping in.) Before long I am thinking in my head about the things I need to do, the things I want to do, and comparing them to the things I have to do for others, and finally to the time I have available to do them. (SMACK! Right in the chest!) Often, this will be enough to paralyze me and prevent me from doing anything productive at all. Sure, it begins innocent enough, but the result is always the same. This whole procedure is repeated over and over again. From lists, to calendars, to menus, to shopping lists, my life is actually shaped by enumerating what I can't do. The balance is always to the negative so very little ends up getting done at all.

I think the biggest reason I feel this way is that for the last 7 years, I have been unable to do even the bare minimum that I feel is required by a member of household. Pain, fatigue, headaches, and depression have chipped away at everything I am and reduced me to a sad shadow of what I once was. I know there is an actual medical reason for my incapability to have the same level of energy and productivity that I did before but I still feel bad that I DON'T. It doesn't matter that I didn't do any of this on purpose, or even that the root of it is probably that I was trying to do too much with too little. At the end, all I can see it that I ended up trying to juggle but instead dropping all the balls.

That statement actually hits it right in the heart. I feel like I dropped the ball. It took so long for me to admit defeat that I by the time I asked for help, I was already buried in the pile of what I wasn't able to do. Now I can identify much more easily what I am and am not able to do. but, that doesn't release me from the guilt of not doing the rest. I am overly optimistic about planning and I usually end up disappointing myself in the end. No amount of personal experience seems to be able to keep my mind in check.

Hopefully, just by identifying the main cause of this, I can practice the procedure of living with and dealing with this insidious little monster.
Yep, there's that optimism again.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Another "Other" Day

I've been told that some days will be better than others. Apparently this is another one of the "others." It actually started yesterday when I left for school (on time, actually) and realized 30 minutes into the drive that I left my Commis Cap at home. I had to turn around and get it, of course. Without a complete uniform, you can not attend class. We have to go through a daily inspection before Chef Francoise will let us into the classroom. I have been told that the front desk occasionally has extra uniform pieces to borrow, but the front desk it usually closed by the time I get to the school. It seemed much more logical to turn around and go home after only 30 minutes than get all the way to school and get denied entrance and have to go all the way home again, anyway.

So, I turn around and I pull into my driveway at the exact time I should have been in class. Then, I come in to get my hat (which was still in my favorite chair) only to find DH had to manually turn the water off to the house because the pipes under the kitchen sprung a leak. On the positive side, it was UNDER the house, and since we live in a pier and beam with brick walls and skirting, it hasn't caused much real damage to the inside of the house. On the negative side, the water bill doubled over the last month and I would guess it is because the leak has been there for a bit longer than we suspected. Also on the negative side, the landlord's office is "swamped" with requests and hasn't gotten to ours yet. And, by the way, where is the rent for this month?

Grrrr. Fine, I get it. Some days just suck. But why must they suck as a whole? Can't there be some good stuff thrown in to balance?

Going back to last night, by the time I got to school, my first class was over. I could be my normal "Glass Is Half Full" kind of person and say that I only was missing a class that I already knew the most about. Food Safety and Sanitation is a subject that I already know a lot about and I practice daily. In order to think positive about this, though, I have to ignore the fact that I was just assigned a project with a partner and yesterday was the only time to work together on this. Missing this class was not very nice to my partner.

In any case, I managed to get to school in time for my second class and I did pass my daily inspection. I suppose that was part of the battle won. Getting through the rest of the class was a challenge, though. Actually, it was an exercise in conquering challenges. First the FM decides to rear its ugly head right while I am standing in front of my cutting board with a very long knife in my hand - aching feet (I am beginning to severely dislike the school-issued shoes), tightening muscles in my shoulders and all the way down to my fingers, weakness in my lower back and knees, headache, cotton mouth, and fatigue. If I didn't know what I was dealing with, I would have checked myself into the ER. However, I know this is just another day in the life of Me. While I am standing there, twitching, I get one ray of hope because I have some pain medicine in my pocket. That ray was quickly extinguished once I realized I have nothing to drink because I left my water bottle in the car. (Did I ever mention memory loss was a symptom of FM?)

For the next hour of class, (while twitching, aching, and nodding off) I had to pay attention to Chef's teachings (in his Fluid French accent) and practice chopping vegetables into 1mm squares. (No, that is not an exaggeration.) Of course, tonight we weren't just going after just potatoes. We made brunoise, brunoisette, des, emincer, ciseler, hacher, concasser, and macedoine. All of that translates into "chop onions, shallots, and garlic very, very, very tiny." I have done this before, on my own, several times with almost no issue. The procedure is much more complicated, though, when you take into account the facts that I am short (which makes the cutting board - and onion fumes - that much closer to my face, and I am rather round which prevents me from seeing the vegetables that are right there under my, uh... nose, and (like a fool) I chose a seat at the end of the 3rd row which is apparently created as the worst place in the entire class as far as visibility is concerned. Even the video projector doesn't do much good when you are behind someone who's head blocks the entire view. I was hopping from foot to foot, back and forth, bobbing and weaving like a boxer trying to see what was going on both in front of me and to either side on the projector screens.

Class ran overtime because so there are so many in the class and just gathering the vegetables to cut takes far longer than it should. By midnight, the room was finally cleaned, sanitized, all the tools were back in place, and we were all released. At this point, I am no longer sleepy at all. I am wide awake and wired. That is good because I have a full hour to drive home. That is bad because it took an additional hour for me to wind down once I got home. I think it was 2:30am by the time I finally drifted off to sleep.

This morning let me know that the "other" day wasn't finished with me yet. I had to wake up earlier than I wanted so that I could try and get a hold of the landlord again. Also, I had a sinus headache that was threatening to become a migraine if I didn't take care of it very, very quickly. The water is still off because the landlord has not sent anyone over to fix the pipes, yet. No running water means no shower and - more importantly - no coffee. I am not able to practice chopping things because I can't clean up anything after I do. I don't want to handle a knife anyway, because my hands and wrists are doing that swelling thing again and I can't make a fist or have good control over anything involving fine dexterity. The last thing I need is to cut myself at home and have to explain it to Chef Francoise when I get to class.

I guess it is time to pull myself out of this slump. I need to get moving in a good direction. Not only do I need to be fresh and alert for Chef Francoise but I need to make my presentation on The Care and Feeding of Clostridium Perfringes for Chef Safety. Beyond that, even, while school is gearing up to be a full-time gig, I got a lead on a paying part-time gig. I still have to finish the interview process, but I have a good chance of landing an at-home Customer Service rep position. It took a few weeks, but I found a position that has the hours I need as well as a training schedule I can attend. I might not actually start making any money at it for the next month, but right now I will take whatever I can get that will help us get solidly on our financial feet.

All this work and school stuff can get pretty draining. All work and no play makes Debbie a grouchy girl. I decided that I needed to pursue some leisure time of my own (because who really wants to sleep AND eat EVERY day?) The church that we recently joined has a Cantata scheduled for the week of Christmas and I have missed singing so much, I volunteered myself right in. As programs go, this one is fairly easy and not terribly long. The Music Director is just a lovely person with several music degrees and who is well overqualified for our little country church. She is very sweet, though, and I like her very much. She also happens to be married to our Minister and is additionally a Deacon so she handles a lot more than just the music program. Anyway, in order to help out the members of the choir who don't read music (I know...I was just as concerned as you when I heard that) she has made practice CD's for each of the parts. While I can read music, and the program is full of pieces I am already fairly familiar with, a practice CD means I can pop it in my car radio and use the hour long commute to school to listen and practice the music in solitude.

The prospect of singing in a choral group again has me just giddy with excitement. I haven't been able to sing much at all for the past 10 years and I really miss it. Each of my girls has a hobby of their own, DH has four or five things that could keep him busy at any point, but I haven't had anything of my own in quite a while. Singing for me is a wonderful thing, one, because I am already fairly good at it, two, because it doesn't involve the parts of my body that like to rebel (like my fingers and wrists), and three it is free. I already own my voice so there aren't any rental or maintenance fees. No costs equals guilt free time to myself.

I think having music as a hobby will help me get through the next two years of school. For the longest time, I have been putting off and canceling any sort of appointment or meeting that pulled me away from the house and the family. What that leads to is both exhaustion and resentment that builds up no matter how big a smile you plaster on your face. KNOWING I need to take care of myself and that I need to give myself permission to do something fun and just for me, is so much different than actually DOING it. Since the girls are all part of the church choir and youth group, it is much easier for them to understand my desire to be part of it. That means they are more likely to respect my time and less likely to whine when I walk out the door. As a Mom, hearing that the kids miss me and they don't want me to go is usually the first wedge that is driven between me and whatever I want to do. I might be totally dedicated to the concept, but when you hear "No, Mom, don't go!" EVERY time you walk out the door, it seems less and less important every day, until one day you skip your lesson or meeting and you don't even care.

I am determined NOT to let than happen again. My girls are all old enough to be able to care for themselves to a certain extent as well as understand my need for a few minutes to myself. School and choir are two things I have always wanted to do and right now, I get to do them together. I am so afraid that I will fail and quit at one or another and I desperately need the support of all my family and friends in order to succeed.

For now, I will try and take things one day at a time. I will do my best to look only at today at what needs to be accomplished and what I am able to do on my own. The rest can, and should, be delegated. It really is the best thing for everyone. Everything gets done, I get my free time, and the girls learn a little responsibility.
Seems fair to me!

Deb "The Singing Chef" Lollar

Sunday, November 7, 2010

What is under Halloween Costumes

I know that probably every other Blogging Mom is going to make a post about this, but I want to put my opinion out there, too.

Last week, someone (actually SEVERAL someones) "shared" a link to a blog by a mom who let her son dress up as Daphne from Scooby Doo for Halloween. (click here to read the original blog) Today, I read a report about it on CNN, too. (click here to see the CNN video report) The writer of the blog attended via phone (to protect her family's privacy) and there was also a psychiatrist there reporting his view point. It seems that when you normally have a handful of readers and you suddenly get more than a million hits to your site, the news services get interested. I think the news reporter hoped to get more "dirt" on the situation, or that she hoped to uncover a horrible story of hazing in pre-school. The psychiatrist had a few pointed comments to say about how she posted a picture of her son so now the world will know about his choices whether he wanted them to or not. They both were so off-base, it made me smile listening to the mother and her matter-of-fact replies. It's just a Halloween costume. He's only five. He's asked for this costume for a year and he loves the characters. It wouldn't matter if he was born gay, decided to "become gay", or just simply liked purple sparkly tights, she would love him the same. 

Reading the actual post, it was admirable how supportive this mom was of her son. The details of how her son came to be dressed up as Daphne and who really had a problem with it was eye opening. The other kids in class greeted him and hugged him just like they do any other day. The negative comments that she heard came from the other MOTHERS. It seemed that the adults were so concerned with how "others" would view this boy that they didn't even realize what hurtful things were coming out of their mouths. It was refreshing how down to earth about parenting she seemed, but also uplifting to feel the ray of hope she gave to so many others who needed to hear that somewhere out there, a mother proclaimed her love for her child regardless of his tendencies or choices. From parents, to future parents, to gay friends, and families of gay people, everyone I know felt that this mom was right-on. It made me proud of the people I am friends with.

I am not alone, either. Apparently there have been over 19,000 replies to her posting and the vast majority of them  were positive and supportive. As a mother, I do believe she was extremely courageous to post this story online (with an adorable shot of her son in the costume), but even more so to title her post "My Son Is Gay." If you read the entire blog, you will find first, that this mother isn't really professing that her son is gay. Also, you will find that neither shoe nor her son are making any political statements here. He just wanted to be Daphne for Halloween. She believes that it doesn't matter to her whether her son MIGHT be gay or not. She loves him the same. The point she wants to make is that the choice her son makes in Halloween costumes doesn't really mark him as gay, deranged, mislead, or anything else. It is just a COSTUME - something that he is NOT on a normal day.

I understand how much guts it took for her to allow him to make a choice like that and follow through. I also agree that is a little bit sad and a whole lot one-sided for anyone to make fun of his choice. Would someone think twice of a girl dressing up as Sipderman? Maybe, but it probably wouldn't make CNN. I see girls running around the school yard in clothes that were designed for boys. Even in Jr High and High School, no one would immediately question a girls' sexuality simply because she wears cargo shorts and a flannel shirt. (They might accuse her of having bad taste and poor fashion sense, but that is a completely different issue.)  Why is it ok for girls to wear boy clothes, or even aspire to become something that a man typically does, but a boy shouldn't wear pink sneakers or enjoy playing with Barbie dolls?

Seriously people. Use your brains about this one. First, there are some things that are forgivable simply because they are done by a child. If a 2 year old creates a masterpiece in Sharpie on your wall, they don't go to prison. For an adult this would be considered vandalism, but for a child this should be a learning moment for them and their parents. Children learn that they can't color on walls and parents learn to put the Sharpies out of reach. Shouldn't they also make sure there are washable crayons and paper available for approved art projects. If a boy wants to dress or act in a way that might not be mainstream, well, you should discuss the consequences of their actions but you should also allow them to follow their hearts. Who hasn't seen a mom in grocery store with her toddler dressed in a tutu and rain boots or as a superhero in sneakers? Is it really all that awful if the tutu is being worn by a boy? By telling our sons that they "can't" do this or look like that, aren't we training them that the possibilities in their life are limited? Why is it more acceptable to tell a boy not to wear nail polish than it is to tell a girl not to become a Firefighter? Are you afraid that the child will be psychologically damaged or are you more scared that his independence and charisma might shatter the perfect, well ordered universe that exists only in your mind?

I can't say I know what it is like to have a son and have to deal with the fear that his choices will have him viewed as a "sissy" by his peers or beat up on the play ground.  I only have girls, so I have worries of a different nature, that they will be called a "slut" for talking to the wrong guy in public or get verbally beat up every minute of every day DURING school because they prefer comfortable clothes over fashionable ones. I know these fears are so different as to be incomparable. However, I know some things are universal whether you are a mother or father or whether you have boys, girls, or both. I understand the feeling of wanting to protect your children from any pain at any cost, and I deeply relate to the feeling of aching for them and with them when you can't keep that pain away. I also know that as a parent, it is our obligation and duty to instill certain values and morals in our children. I would hope that those values and morals were positive, inclusive, and wholesome instead of negative, discriminatory, backwards. As a citizen of a free and multi-cultured country, our society has certain rules that should be followed if for no other reason than to be able to get along with others. Say please and thank you. Wash your hands. Treat others as you would like to be treated. Don't pee in the pool. Share what you have with those that need it. I really don't think "Make fun of others because they are different" needs to be one of the social norms that should be passed on. Neither should "Be afraid to be different."

I asked all three of my young hearts what they would think and how they would react if one of the boys in THEIR class came to school dressed as Daphne from Scooby-Doo. I even showed them the picture of the boy ans explained the circumstances so they would have a clear understanding of the situation. Their answers made me smile and also made me very, very proud. Little Heart (who is 13, now) thought it would be funny (as in comical) but she also made it clear that if anyone decided to push this boy around, she would be right behind him pushing the bully back. LH would not stand by and allow anyone - even a strange boy in a dress - to get picked on. It goes against her strong sense of justice. Tiny Dancer (who is 9) thought that she might be surprised to see a boy dressed as a girl for Halloween simply because it doesn't happen all the time, but she told me she would probably go up to boy and ask him WHY he wanted to Daphne, specifically. Is it because she is smart AND attractive? It is the cool wig? Did he decide that the other characters were boring? Again, she didn't see anything wrong with it, she was just curious as to the inspiration behind it. Evil Genius (now 7) was also more interested in which character the boy decided on being, and why. When I showed her the picture, she thought the boy looked great, but that she would have preferred to be Velma because she is the smart one, and that wig looked "horrid and itchy." For an Evil Genius, she certainly has a distinct sense of style and fashion.
Truly, I think they were all a little confused by the question. What do you mean, "how would I react?" Why should I react any differently than I would on any other day? You mean, someone would actually have a problem with this?

Having this conversation made me more than a little bit proud of my girls. I could see their different personalities clearly defined in the reactions. LH would be a protector, knowing how it feels to be the odd one. TD would be curious but also aware of the social ramifications and very careful to make sure she didn't offend. EG could care less about what everyone else thought about it, and more concerned with the details and thought process. None of them said that it was unacceptable, wrong, or that they would have avoided the boy. My heart also swelled with pride knowing I married the right man, when he, too, made it plain that there shouldn't be anything wrong with a boy dressed as Daphne any more than for a girl to dress as Batman.

As children, or even as adults, I don't feel that a person's sexual preference need be a factor in determining friendship. I also don't feel that choosing boys' clothes over girls' (or vice versa) is a definite sign of a preference in partnership. I am so very proud that as a family, we have friends of all different natures, colors, sizes, and any other descriptor you can imagine. Not only are we split religions (I'm Catholic and DH is Methodist) but we have family and friends of nearly every other religion there is (or isn't, as the case may be.) A normal party guest list might include boys, girls, toddlers, people over 70 years old, single people, married couples, divorced parents, gays, lesbians, autistic children, children who are deaf, disabled, or sick, little people, tall people, members of the clergy, people who have parking tickets, Native Americans, foreigners from whatever country you could name, as well as average, normal kids who are any color or combination of traits that are created. Many of our family and friends are covered with tattoos or piercings, or both. There are just as many who have none (or at least non that you could see.)  We have friends who live on a ranch with horses and family that lives in the city. Some people we know are financially wealthy while others have been jobless, and even homeless, for a time. We welcome all varieties of humans in our circle of friendship and we treat all of them with the respect that one person should show another.

I'm not saying I am a better mom than someone else simply because I know people who are different. All I am saying is that I wouldn't dream of treating one person poorly or excluding another simply because of their age, race, physical condition, partner choice, religion, or appearance. I am proud that I have raised my girls this way. In my house we call it being "color blind." It refers to more than just the color of the skin, though. It envelops a philosophy of treating humans as humans and reacting to them based on their personality, instead on a single trait or distinction.

If you really think about all the differences that all the people have from one another, it is obvious that no two people are exactly alike, but you can always find at least one similarity between you and someone else.

As my father said while quoting "Bill and Ted" - Be Excellent to each other.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Counting Down...

What a crazy week!

I finally got all my uniforms and books for school. Of course, I have to hem everything about 6 inches shorter or so, but that's nothing new for me. I put the whole uniform on at once to see what it was like, and I'll tell you it felt at once both foreign and completely comfortable. There are several layers that are required and all together it's actually pretty warm. My biggest worry right now is that I will walk around dripping sweat all the time. I don't handle heat very well. I will get my tool kit on Tuesday and I simply can not wait! Those knives are a thing of beauty.

I had a little bit of a freak out a few days ago. I looked online at my schedule and all my classes were scheduled in the morning. I called my adviser and when he didn't call me back immediately (like he usually does) I kind of panicked. I shouldn't have though, because late yesterday he DID call me back (with lots of apologies for not calling sooner) and let me know that my schedule had been fixed and my schedule is back to nights, where it belongs.

The biggest reason I panicked about it, was that I have applied and been accepted to an At Home Customer Service position. Apparently, there are a few legitimate companies out there that treat you like an employee with real paperwork and paychecks and everything. There is always a catch, though. This place requires you to attend 6 weeks of training before you start taking calls. For some reason, when you accept a job working certain hours, they like to give you a training schedule that isn't at all close to what your work hours would be. For instance, I said I could work a position from 8:00am-4:30pm. They give me a training schedule (that I am required to attend 100%) that is noon-9:00pm. How much sense does that make?

Anyway, because of that, I don't have a real position nailed down with them yet. If they can't give me a training schedule and a work schedule that are BOTH at reasonable times, I might have to back out of it altogether. That would suck because I really don't want to have to commute to work AND to school. I might get to see my girls and husband for a few minutes each morning and that's it! I wouldn't be home until they are already in bed. That just isn't something I am willing to do. There are a few other options that have come up recently, so I might not be totally up a creek. We'll just have to wait and see what comes of them.

Finally, I got in to see my neurologist yesterday. Since starting on the drug cocktail that is supposed to help ease the symptoms of Fibromyalgia I have gotten a lot better. There is less pain on a daily basis and I have more motivation to to get up and do things. I still can't work outside the house, though. A full day of working would wear me out enough that I couldn't go to school. School will only be about four hours a day for four days a week, so I think I can handle that.

The downside of the meds are, of course, weight gain. Lowering the dosage doesn't seem to help. On top of that, the extra weight is probably making the pain and fatigue worse. It also appears that I am developing some sort of sleep disorder. It might be the meds, but it is most likely due to the weight.  So, I have to go through a sleep study in a few weeks. I will spend a night at the hospital hooked up to wires and machines so they can determine what is happening and if there is anything I can do to fix it.

It just seems like this crap gets better and better.

There is a part of me that wants to flush all the drugs down the toilet, go off everything cold turkey, and just deal with whatever I have got. Would I lose any weight? Would I have more or less pain than I thought I would? Might I go completely dog-nuts and streak through the neighborhood trying to jump off a very tall curb? There is no telling. Right now, while I am (supposedly) sane, I can see that my quality of life is pretty low. I have to think back really far to remember why I started taking this crap in the first place. I have almost 10 years of symptoms and I am not really sure if the newer problems are related or not. I remember feeling pretty miserable back then, or I wouldn't have agreed to start the meds in the first place. I can't remember if it is more or less miserable than I am now. Not a positive thought, there.

I know that stopping the meds suddenly is dangerous, and I really won't do it (I promise.) I am just afraid of getting into the cycle of taking something for a symptom and then taking something else for the side effects and so on. It isn't easy to coordinate all of it by myself. I have three different specialists that I see and one regular doctor who is supposed to manage all of this for me. She really doesn't do that, though, and now I live too far away to see her anyway. I have to go to the local Country Doctor for anything I need. He's a nice enough guy, but he gives the same level of service that I would get at a Prima Care or Care Now. "What do you think it is? Ok, we'll go with that, then. here's an antibiotic. Call me if you die in the next three days."

I had to see him yesterday because of a double sinus infection. I've got the antibiotics and I hope to feel better soon. Until then, I apologize if I seem a little disjointed and vague. I already feel like I've been run over by a Mack truck, but the cold medicine adds a fluffy and fuzzy feeling to that. It's kind of like being wrapped in a blanket, with a pillowcase over your head, and the contents of a pillow stuffed INSIDE your head.
I think I have had enough of this joyous feeling for now. I'm going back to bed.