Failures of Various Kinds

17 Apr

Despite my courageous and noble post last month, I did not actually make it to Story Club to share my story. A last minute emergency prevented me from going. It was a bitter disappointment, especially since I had already written and rehearsed my story. The theme that month was “She Blinded Me With Science!” and so I wrote whatever came into my head about science until it coalesced into a story. Since I did not get to share it with a live audience, I thought I would share it here. It still needs a better ending (I think), but here it is.

Science was always my worst subject.

I never made it past the classroom phase of our Chicago Public School’s Science Fair in all three years of trying. The first year, sixth grade, I accidentally left my posterboard at home. I ran back for it in tears, desperately trying to reach it in time, only to discover when I got to my front door that it was my sister’s day with the latchkey. Now late and posterboard-less, I slowly walked back to school, choking back tears and my pride.

I was supposed to be at the top of everything academically. Not the best, necessarily, but definitely at the top. Unrealistic expectations and pressures suddenly materialize when you skip a grade. You are supposed to get straight A’s, win the classroom if not the school wide Geography and Spelling Bees, any and all writing contests, and you certainly should be representing your homeroom in the next level of the science fair – the gymnasium round – with the kids who studied moldy bread and made working doorbells.

This pressure did not come from any teacher, school administrator, fellow student, or even my parents. It all came from inside myself, and I was my harshest critic. I had to be more than smart – I had to justify skipping a grade. I had to silence the doubts of my peers and the even louder internal voice that constantly questioned the decision I had not made, saying “Are you sure you’re that smart?”

That first year of the Science Fair, I thought the answer was yes. With my teacher’s approval, I selected an experiment on genetics out of the textbook. I actually enjoyed the research for my paper, discussing Mendel with his peas and the elegant logic of Punnett squares. My actual experiment consisted of comparing my traits with my parents. I’m not sure how that proved anything, except that none of us could curl our tongues. As I started constructing my poster, doubt started to creep in. What if my experiment wasn’t good enough? What if I wasn’t as smart as everyone thought I was?

And so it was with a very heavy heart that I returned to school without my posterboard, knowing that I was immediately eliminated from competition. I dried my eyes and gave the best presentation I could without my painstakingly crafted tri-fold posterboard. I saw the pity in the judges’ eyes as they took in the pale face with every freckle standing out, the red and swollen eyes, and the glaringly empty desk. They sympathetically gave the best marks they could, but with no posterboard, I had no shot at a spot in the gym.

As miserable as I was – all that research for nothing – I quickly managed to find the bright side. I had missed the gym, but not through a lack of hard work or a lack of smarts. It’s not that my project wasn’t good enough – rather, it was cruel fate that put the latchkey in my sister’s backpack, separating me from my beautiful poster and keeping me from truly competing. The fact that I forgot the poster in the first place was quickly ignored. Instead, I absolved myself of all guilt and sorrowfully told my parents and myself that I would have made it further if only it had been my day to carry the key.

I was good at feigning disappointment, and my parents were impressed with how stoically I accepted defeat, and presumably learned the lesson about responsibility. But inside, I was rejoicing. I had found a loophole. If I had made it out of the classroom round and into the gym, I might have suffered humiliation and defeat, my project might not have been good enough. But by leaving behind a vital part of the project – through no fault of my own – I had placed the matter out of my hands. If I didn’t make it to the next round, it wasn’t because I wasn’t smart. It was just fate. The day after the science fair, I already knew my plan for the next year.

In seventh grade, I dutifully selected a worthy topic- how earthworms respond to stimuli. I researched the anatomy and behavior of earthworms. I kept my live bait in the fridge in a Chinese take-out container. My worms submitted themselves to my poking and prodding them in an old Baker’s Square pie tin. Again, the experiment didn’t prove anything – unless you count the discovery that, when sufficiently provoked, an earthworm can actually jump out of a pie tin.

As I tortured my worms, I also planned my sabotage. My first plan was to kill the earthworms by accidentally placing them in the freezer half of our fridge. But my casual question to my teacher as to what would kill earthworms aroused her suspicion, and she told me live earthworms were not necessary for the remainder of the project. I knew it would raise even more suspicion to forget my poster again and so I searched for another plan.

Once again, I constructed the requisite tri-fold posterboard, composed a research paper, drew up a speech – and left the materials at home. The pie tin, the instruments of worm torture – mysteriously, none of them made it to school with me the day of the Fair. Again, they were a vital part of the scoring system and I did not advance.

I cheerfully explained to my teacher and classmates and parents that no, I was not disappointed. It wasn’t my fault you see – alas! I had forgotten my materials at home! The melodramatic forehead clasping definitely raised more eyebrows and suspicions, and I knew that the ruse was up.

And so, in 8th grade, I did not plan any sabotage. I rejected the doorbell making project suggested by my teacher as far too difficult and decided to formulate my own experiment. It was based on one I had read in a book – a Babysitter’s Club Book, to be precise. The fact that an 8 year old character was performing the experiment should have been a sign, but I liked the project because I thought it was original and I knew it would be easy to carry out. And so I bought plants and studied how music affected their growth rates. One got classical music, one got the oldies station, and one got silence. None grew appreciably more than the others, though I think the classical plant had an eighth of an inch on the other two.

I brought everything to the classroom fair – posterboard, plants, research paper. I was ready to finally join my peers in the gym. And yet, I didn’t make it past the classroom round. My project was deemed “too easy for an 8th grader.” I had cheated myself without even knowing it. Apparently, there’s more to Science Fair success than bringing your materials and your posterboard. Apparently, you’re supposed to challenge yourself, to actually learn something, and you probably should not take your experiment from a children’s book, and a poorly written one at that.

It was a bitter pill to swallow. I couldn’t blame my failure on conscious sabotage. And I couldn’t even comfort myself with “Oh well, I tried my hardest.” I knew damn well where that experiment came from. And yet, I still found my loophole. I told myself, “Well, everyone knows – science is my worst subject.”

The next Story Club is this Tuesday. I’m going to try again, and bring all my materials this time.

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Stepping Up

18 Mar

Once again it’s been a while since I’ve posted. Not only has life been really busy, but I haven’t had anything interesting to report. I haven’t stopped writing though: I joined a small group through my church dedicated to sharing our stories.

Our first assignment was to write about a time we felt powerless. I wrote a short piece about the first few days after Daniel was born. (I’m happy to share it in a separate post if anyone is interested.) The piece was [is?] very short, coming in at about 4 and a half pages, double spaced.

Our second assignment was to take our first story and relate it to one of a few larger themes. I chose: how does our powerlessness relate to and interact with our spirituality? We were to write longer, more in depth pieces, and two people would share each week. I was the last to get the sign up sheet and so I ended up being the first to share.

It was a complicated and difficult question to answer. The story started from before I was born, worked through my childhood and religious upbringing, then tackled the major crises in my life.

I started pouring them out in my journal and couldn’t stop. I didn’t want to miss an important one. I ended up scribbling until one in the morning. And yet I still never even touched on my depression and I didn’t cover all the issues. Exhausted, I put it aside anyway.

I waited a week to go back to it and start typing it up. To my shock and, frankly, horror, it was 8 pages. Single spaced. I sent a frantic and apologetic email. I didn’t know where to begin cutting it down but it seemed unwieldy now, my raw emotions and experiences spilling out over that many pages.

The minister kindly replied, “Wow! That was a story that needed to be told!” She said to maybe pare it down some, but not to worry too much about it.

And so I tinkered – and deleted – and edited – and edited – and edited some more. Still not satisfied but out of time, I printed it out and I shared it.

No one complained about the length. No one criticized the content. I laid my unweildy creation -and myself – out on the table (not literally!), and I was rewarded with acceptance and praise.

So now comes the stepping up. I love to write but I am paradoxically afraid of sharing. Every time I write a blog post, I quell the accompanying anxiety by assuring myself that the posts only go out to a small audience, and certainly not face to face.

Every month, I get an invite on Facebook to participate in South Side Story Club – a live performance of written pieces by accomplished authors, with open mic slots afterward.

Every month, I think to myself, “Wow, I’d love to do that. But I’m not good enough. I don’t have anything good to say.”

This month was different. This month I rsvp’d yes. This month (next Tuesday!), I will try to sign up for one of the open mic slots. And I will try to read without blushing, crying, or running away in sheer terror. I’m not afraid of the crowd – I’m afraid of not being good enough. Of not being as good as I like to think I am sometimes. Of not being funny enough, or interesting enough, or talented enough.

Further complicating things is I don’t know what to read. Not the spiritual piece – too personal and too long. Do I pick something I’ve written before? This months topic is Science – do I write something new in that vein? Or do I write a brand new piece entirely in the hope that it’s not perfect for a later months topic?

Time will probably end up making the decision for me. And I may not even get an open mic slot – I’ve never gone before so I don’t know how hard it is to get one. But no matter what, I will keep writing, keep sharing, and hope for the courage to be as good as I think I am.

I like to end with a picture or two so here you go:

Special Needs Parenting Part Two: Pica

3 Feb

As I prepare to write this post, I’m reminded why I gave my blog this title in the first place. The GPS in my Subaru was constantly giving me wrong directions, bad advice, and I think possibly trying to kill me. It would tell me to go the wrong way down one way streets, it would tell me I hadn’t reached my destination yet and to keep driving while I was parked in the parking lot and ‘keep driving’ would have meant ‘destroy Fred’s apartment’, and it would often tell me I was driving in the Chicago River. The best was one time, as I drove on Lower Wacker Drive, the GPS got so confused it shuddered a few times, then showed my car slowly but surely driving into Lake Michigan. So I joked with my friends that, one day, my biography would be called “Even the GPS was lost.”

But the title works because it’s not that only the GPS was lost, it’s that even the GPS was lost – a crucial distinction. I am totally and utterly lost as well. Life has thrown me so many curveballs, fastballs, and even screwballs (or are those not a real thing?), that I am left standing dazed at home plate.

Daniel has special needs. This is not news. This is the kid that, at age 3, had such an epic meltdown in a restaurant that another patron approached and kindly asked if he was autistic. She was a lot less understanding when we told her “No, he’s just… hangry.” (Probably because that word hadn’t been invented yet.) This is the kid so sensitive to light and sound that a fire drill at school will render him completely inconsolable for a long stretch of time. This is the kid who still grips his pencil with his whole fist. This is the kid that says ‘wibs’ for ‘ribs’, ‘da’ for ‘the’, and ‘offer’ for ‘other’.

And this is the kid who has been eating things that aren’t food since he was a baby. I couldn’t figure out why large chunks of chenille were disappearing from his blanket when he was about 1 year old, and kept thinking the blanket was just getting wrecked in the washing machine – until I caught him eating it. He gnaws on his sleeves, his collars, his buttons, pencils, erasers, woodchips, legos, toy car tires, and the rails of his bed. When I would bring it up, his pediatrician kept saying he would grow out of it.

Last year, at the suggestion of his school, we finally took him for an evaluation. As we sat in the office, he picked up pieces of road salt that had drifted into the office and put them in his mouth. The therapist right away said, “Do you know what pica is?”

Actually, I do. As I’ve mentioned before, I was a psych major in college and took the Child Psychology class. Pica was discussed in the textbook, among other disorders. In the simplest terms, it’s when a kid eats lots of things that aren’t food. And I remember thinking, “That is super crazy!” The textbook said it was often due to a nutritional deficiency and thus easily treated, but could also be a behavioral problem.

Guess which type Daniel has.

I’ve been afraid to do any more research, I have been too afraid to reach out to or look for other pica parents.. I’ve been too afraid to do much of anything, aside from continue with behavioral therapy and occupational therapy to try to help him break the habits. I don’t want to research or reach out because I already know the worst case scenario: too much non-food items get ingested, they accumulate in the stomach/intestines/bowels and surgery is required.

So you can imagine the heart attack I had this past Wednesday when we thought that was what we were facing. Daniel had eaten 14 tires off his Mario Kart racers, and so I told him to wear the necklace that’s supposed to help with the chewing. He was really pissed at me for telling him that – the other kids at school make fun of it. So he ate the necklace.

That was last Saturday. By Wednesday he was still throwing up. I took him to Urgent Care, where he helpfully threw up again. They examined it and found black stuff, and said the things he ate might still be stuck. They said he needed to go to the ER right away to make sure there was no blockage.

My husband and I didn’t freak out. I texted my mom, my sister, my boss, and Daniel’s godmother and told them what was going on. Everyone was supportive and wonderful. My friend asked what she could do – I joked to light a candle to the patron saint of pica, if there is one.

We got him to the ER, still sick, and waited for ages for him to be seen, and then for him to have a x-ray, and then for them to interpret the results. (And the whole time he was hangry!) The report came back: no blockage. I finally drew a deep breath and felt my heart start beating again. The doctor literally told us “The pica was just a red herring,” which, of course, made me think of this:

Tim Curry = the best.

We took our Little Dude home, gave him some Zofran, and all was well.

Except now I’m back to where I started: feeling completely lost. How on earth do I deal with this? How do I help my son? Should I do more research, search out other pica parents? What if this happens again? What if it’s worse next time? Why is my car driving in the Chicago River?

So here’s what I’m asking of all of you who read this: if you have any resources, any information, any advice, any suggestions, please let me know. I need help with this one and I don’t know where to begin.

Trio Trio Trio

14 Jan

Things that come in 3s:

– most shamrocks

– the Holy Trinity

– rings in a circus

– Lord of the Rings books

– Dogs at night

– this guy:

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(For those of you who are unfamiliar, that’s the aptly named dugtrio)

And now, we can add to the list: – Family ER visits.

It all started with the realization that a) we really needed a vacation, b) Ken could easily take off work between Christmas and New Years, and c) Groupon has some really good last minute travel deals. We initially envisioned a road trip (“Let’s drive until it’s warm,” I said), but another deal caught my eye.

A hotel in the middle of nowhere Wisconsin with an indoor pool. A free Cranberry Museum in town. But the most attractive part? “5 minutes from skiing!!”

Ken and Daniel had never skied. Ken and Daniel both wanted to learn to ski. And I, against all sanity and reason, wanted to ski again.

Yes, again. I went skiing once before this trip. It was 11 years ago and ended with me in the hospital with a concussion and broken thumb. But other than that, it was fun! I clearly remember enjoying skiing! Yes, I clearly remember hitting a tree with my head, but it would be different this time!

And so we packed up, bought outdoor gear, and headed to middle of nowhere Wisconsin for 4 days of relaxing: skiing and swimming and lounging in the hot tub.

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2015/01/img_1027.jpg We were prepared.

We all started off with a ski lesson. Daniel and Ken both did great for their first time. The instructor was impressed. And it all came back to me! And I was doing awesome! Before sending us off on our own, the instructor had Ken and Dan go up to the first pole of the ski lift and ski down. They aced it. Misunderstanding the instruction, I went to the second pole of the ski lift and skied down. Aced it.

Quick trivia question: what did Luke Skywalker say was The Emperor’s weakness in Return of the Jedi? Answer: His over confidence.

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*fist bumps Palpatine*

I went to the ski lift and fell 3 times trying to get up the hill. I eventually decided to abandon my ski poles as someone promised to bring them up after me. (I think they’re still on the hill somewhere as I never saw them again). I wiped out getting off the ski lift. And yet, there I stood, surveying the view.

2015/01/img_1040.jpg The view! I can do this!!

2015/01/img_1041.jpg Overconfident selfie!

I can skiiiiiiaaaaiiiieeeee…..!

Whomp. Whomp. Whomp.

That’s not the sad trombone. That’s the sound of me flipping over three times, left ski flying off (to find my poles?), and finally cracking my head on the snow at the nape of my neck. There I sat, about 1/5th down the hill, only one ski on, debating if I could slide on my butt the rest of the way down. Luckily the nice man with the snowmobile and stretcher came and took me to first aid.

It was pretty obvious I had a concussion. Having several before, I’m quite familiar with the symptoms now. I was nauseated, seeing double, and couldn’t remember my husbands name. So this is the next picture I have:

2015/01/img_1042.jpg That would be me laughing at something the paramedics said. And that made ER visit #1. The rest of the vacation was me in the hotel room. By Friday, I was feeling better, enough to make a side trip to visit friends in Milwaukee.

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2015/01/img_1074.jpg Worth it.

By Sunday night, I was pretty well healed. I was even going to try to go to work the next day. In anticipation, I tried to go to bed early, around 10 pm. I was immediately awoken by loud yells and crashes in the kitchen. Running downstairs in my pjs, I stopped short, surveying the apparent crime scene in my kitchen. My husband was standing at the faucet, deathly pale and whimpering, and there was blood everywhere.

Apparently, the pillar candle needed trimming. Apparently, the best tool for this job was our son’s Boy Scout pocketknife. Apparently, he didn’t listen to the safety lecture he just gave the Scouts.

Aunt came to stay with Dan, I pulled boots on over my pjs, and took husband to ER #2.

2015/01/img_1080.jpg He was really happy about it.

Several hours and 14 stitches later, we were finally home. It was now 4 am on Monday. My head was starting to hurt. It hurt even more when I got up 3 hours later to take the boy to school. And the next morning, Tuesday, it really hurt as I shoveled our driveway.

We managed to get the boy to school. I managed to make it all the way back to our kitchen before fainting. Ken managed to get me awake and into the car for ER #3.

2015/01/img_1083.jpg Turns out, if you overdo it, and do too much too soon, and lift anything heavier than a gallon of milk (you know, like snow), you can have something called a “post concussive episode” which is medical-ese for ow ow OWWWW.

So here’s the final numbers:

1: neck x-Ray

2: head CTs

3: ER visits

14: stitches in Ken’s hand

24: hours I was hooked to a heart monitor. (I named it George).

ZERO : THE NUMBER OF SKI RUNS I ENJOYED ON MY SKI VACATION.

God only knows what would have happened if we’d just taken a road trip.

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Tests and Measures

19 Dec

A long, long time ago, back when I was a fresh faced eager undergrad, I took a class called Tests and Measurements to satisfy the lab requirement of my psychology major. We discussed the general difficulties that accompany any psychological assessment, debating the best ways to evaluate intelligence, mood, personality, and various disorders.

We discussed the history of intelligence tests – the difficulty of racial, cultural, and language barriers. We discussed the difficulties of administering intelligence tests to children. And, as an example, the teacher brought in the WISC and asked for a volunteer. You can guess who jumped all over that shit.

Part of the test involves memory. You are given a series if numbers and then told to repeat them – backwards. Examiner says 7, 3. You then say 3, 7. And so on, with longer and longer strings of numbers. I fucking rocked it. My classmates and teacher were impressed as I got into the 7 and 8 digit strings with no mistakes. I was mighty pleased with myself.

The next part of the test was various colored shapes you had to manipulate to match the given picture. I Could. Not. Do. It. Seriously. A monkey could have gotten a better score. The quiet admiration turned to guffaws, even chortles. I hung my head in shame.

So it was with great trepidation that I acceded to my therapist’s request that I take a variety of psych tests. I was worried I would turn out to be crazy. Or, even worse, not as smart as I like to think I am.

The testing was yesterday and it began with the WAIS. “Oh no,” I thought. “I hope it’s easier this time.”

That’s right, I actually hoped the adult version would be easier than the children’s. This probably should have been the beginning and end of the intelligence test then and there.

The examiner started out by handing me a box of cubes that had a solid red face, a solid white face, and faces that were half and half. “Now I’m going to show you a picture and I want you to arrange the blocks to match….”

I almost wished I was a monkey because then I could a) get a better score and b) fling the blocks around the room.

At least I still rocked the numbers.

The tests continued. I smirked at some, remembering the discussions of their ineffectiveness all those years ago. I actually got to have a real Rorschach test and a TAT.

It did not go well.

I did not realize the poor examiner would be required to keep up with everything I said. I went into a detailed discussion of how one slide looked like a bat. The transcript will look like this :

the feet look like bat feet because have you ever seen the animated New Adventures of Batman from the mid to late nineties because in the first episode the villain is Man-Bat who is kind of lame but he’s half man half bat and when he flies his feet look like that and he was a lame villain but it was a good show Mark Hamill did the voice of the joker oh my god you are literally writing all of this down?

The examiner was even less pleased when he showed me a slide, asked what I saw, and I said “an inkblot.” I think he was ready to throw some shit (figuratively, not literally) at that point.

Next was the Thematic Apperception Test, or TAT. You are shown ambiguous pictures and you are supposed to tell a story: what just happened, what’s happening now, what will happen next, and how does everyone feel.

I debated – do I let my creative side run wild or do I try to describe the picture as accurately as possible? I opted for the latter in the hopes of seeming normal. Some were hard and I had to get creative, so both the examiner and I were surprised when I was shown one and, without even thinking, had the answer right away.

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“Oh,” I said. “He just killed that prostitute.”

I can’t wait to get my results.

This week brought to you by the letters W, T, F.

7 Nov

I don’t know if this is “better,” but remember how I wrote about the week where everything was bittersweet? Well, this week everything has been downright weird, to the point of surreal. I was leaving work the other night recounting one of this week’s incidents over the phone to a friend, when a security guard overheard me. I hung up as I signed out of the building and the security guard said, “Wow. You need your own reality show.”

So let’s recap the week of the weird.

Monday was one of my days off from work. I celebrated by dropping Daniel off at school and promptly falling back asleep in the guest room, despite my promises to myself that I would get stuff done. Around 11 or so, I heard Daniel running up and down the stairs and his little voice, talking to himself. I could even hear the swishing of his track pants. “Give me a minute, Danno, I’ll be up in a second,” I called. Then I stopped cold, remembering that he was in school. As I was remembering this, the little voice and the swishing pants continued running up and down the stairs. I grabbed the phone and called Ken at work. “When are you coming home?” I asked. “I don’t know, I’m fixing this machine and it’s going to take two to three hours to fix it,” he replied. “Why?” I lowered my voice and said “Something that’s Daniel but isn’t Daniel is in the house.” I was rolled away from the doorway, towards the wall, and heard the swishing track pants come in behind me. “What are you talking about? Daniel’s in school,” Ken replied. “I know!” I said. “It sounds like Daniel, but it’s not Daniel!” At that, whatever was behind me started crying really loudly, and angrily. “What the hell is that??” Ken asked. “It knows I know it’s not Daniel,” I said, squeezing my eyes as tightly closed as I could. I hung up and turned around to see what it was…

And that’s when I woke up. I was more jittery than a chihuahua on meth for the rest of the day. I hope it was a dream, but for the rest of the day, this was me:

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Tuesday: My birthday! Yay! But also Election Duty, booooo. Election Duty means a partner and I are assigned a ward or two in the city, tour a minimum of 20 precincts, check for shenanigans, and wait for the polls to close. We try to hit as many polling places as we can that have multiple precincts, and so our first stop was a school with 3 precincts voting inside. I go to the side table as my partner, the wonderful Brenda Gibbs, went to the middle table. We start with the same spiel: We’re from the State’s Attorney’s Office, any problems today? As soon as my table said “no,” I saw the look on Brenda’s face that clearly meant “PLZ HELP CRAZY TIMES”. (We’ve done Election Duty several times together and have developed these signals.) I walked over to the middle table, where one election judge has allegedly stabbed another with a pen. And the on duty police officer was shrugging his shoulders. We did not ascertain any stab wounds and left them in the capable hands of the police officer. The rest of Election Duty was calmer, aside from one precinct we had to visit three separate times to try to resolve issues. We usually get through Election Duty without filling out any incident reports. This time, we filled out three. Hooray.

And then it got even better. When I finally got home, the cat was meowing in a strange way. It wasn’t his usual “I’m hungry, feed me morons,” or even his indignant “I hate you people.” It sounded… almost… proud? My husband went down into the basement to investigate the food bowl and found a dead garter snake. We assume the cat killed it, but without an autopsy I can’t be sure. Now, normally in our house, my husband disposes of all the dead creatures that we stumble across, including the chipmunk that was definitely murdered by the cat. This time, despite it being my birthday, he informed me that he is actually terrified of snakes, even dead ones. Strangely, it didn’t bother me at all. I grabbed some paper towels, scooped up the dead snake, and folded the paper towels back over it. I then pretended to ‘toss’ the bundle at Ken. Apparently he wasn’t kidding when he said he is terrified of snakes and he screamed super loud, which I found hilarious. Anyway, I buried the snake in the backyard and finally went to bed.

I don’t think anything particularly weird happened on Wednesday, but I’m sure I’m just forgetting something or blocked it out. Or maybe the one-two punch of Election Duty and snake funerals was enough to carry over for Wednesday.

Thursday was my other day off. I dropped the dog off at the groomer’s and went out to see my mother-in-law. I encouraged her to join the group activity, which was a very modified version of Trivial Pursuit. Needless to say, we kicked some serious trivia ass together. The group leader decided the activity should conclude with everyone howling like wolves in honor of the full moon. Let me tell you, there is something indescribably weird about being in a room full of Alzheimer’s and dementia patients and a few visitors howling. Repeatedly.

I don’t know about Gloria, but I definitely needed a break.

So I took her out for lunch and took her shopping at Target. I told her to pick out something for her room. This is what ended up in the cart:

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Mmmm… okay.

Picked dog up from groomer’s, picked up boy from parents, and was then informed that the turkey project was due the next day. You know, the turkey he brought home and we’re supposed to ‘disguise?’ Oh yeah Daniel, I totally remember you telling me about that. So I decided to help disguise the turkey by doing this:

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That’s right, I actually sat down and knit a tiny sweater for a paper turkey. And the whole time, I thought, “I can’t believe this is my life. I can’t believe this is what I’ve been reduced to.” I then hot glued the tiny sweater and the other accessories chosen by Daniel to the turkey, resulting in this:

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Behold, our magnificent creature.

I’m going to go ahead and guess no other kid has a turkey quite like ours.

Finally, today. I’ve had enough shenanigans to last me a while. I get to my office and, like always, it is freezing. I have previously threatened to set my garbage can on fire, solely to generate heat. My boss walked in to chat and said, “Holy cow! Why do you have it so cold in here?!” I told him I only wished we had individual thermostats. He walked right over to the heat register, opened up a panel I had never seen, and set the thermostat from “actively blowing out cold air” to “producing moderately semi-warm air, this room has high ceilings, what do you expect.” I would just like to point out that I have worked here for over four years and no one has ever shown me the secret thermostat panel before. I am peeved.

And I’m hoping I’m done with weirdness for the rest of the week, maybe even the month. Then again, since it’s my life, and the security guard had a good point, maybe I’ll be tapped for a reality show.

Maybe I need to click my heels three times?

30 Oct

Lately I’ve been pondering on the disconnect between saying you forgive someone and actually forgiving someone. The topic of forgiveness seems to be following me around, popping up everywhere, metaphorically tapping me on the shoulder saying ‘Hey, there’s something you need to take care of.’

I know that it’s the right thing to do, the healthy thing to do. I know that lingering anger hurts me more than the other person. And I know that ‘time heals all wounds.’

But I can’t do it. I say to myself, “I forgive her,” but even as I say it, “her” is replaced by “the queen of the pig people,” an attitude not conducive towards forgiveness. (But thank you, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, for the epithet).

And it’s not in my nature to not forgive. You can say mean things to me, hurt my feelings, you can even get me pregnant with your child and abandon me, and I’ll still forgive you. Ex boyfriends who shattered my heart? We’re now friends on Facebook. Girls who were mean to me in high school? I don’t even remember your names. Friends who betrayed my trust? Eh, you’re just not my friend anymore.

I’m usually very good at turning the situation around and finding the positive. The relationship wasn’t meant to be. The friendship wasn’t healthy anyway. And I am downright relieved I never married Daniel’s original father – the second one is much better.

So I’m stumped as to why I can’t forgive on this one. It’s not that more time needs to pass – it’s been over three years. But just the thought of this person still makes my stomach hurt and makes me short of breath.

I know I need to forgive and move on, but I can’t figure out what’s stopping me from doing it. I say I forgive the person and even use their real name, I try to be the bigger person, but the forgiveness isn’t flowing.

It reminds me of the times I accompanied my brother to his church. He’s a born again Christian, and I’ve seen the power faith has had in his life. But when I say I believe, it’s just words – the faith doesn’t flow. Something – reason? fear? – stops me.

So what’s the stone blocking the river of forgiveness? And if I can’t figure it out, can I fake it til I make it? If I say “I forgive you” to the person in my head enough times, will it happen?

I listen to Spotify sometimes at work, and one day, based on my Iron and Wine selection, it played a Bon Iver cover of a John Prine song. The lyrics cut me right to the core and I started crying at my desk (don’t you love when that happens?). But man, I thought the song was written just for me:

You can gaze out the window get mad and get madder,
Throw your hands in the air, say “What does it matter?”
But it don’t do no good to get angry,
So help me I know

For a heart stained in anger grows weak and grows bitter.
You become your own prisoner as you watch yourself sit there
Wrapped up in a trap of your very own
Chain of sorrow.

So how do I break the chain? Can I assume time will take care of it? Is it ok to keep calling her the queen of the pig people?

How do I forgive?

Since I don’t like to post entries without a picture, and I don’t have a relevant one, here’s one of my cat. The internet always needs more cat pictures.

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