Blogs Are Stupid

Doesn't anyone believe in Dear Diary anymore? What happened to the joy of putting actual pen to paper? And why does every ordinary Jane and John think they can write well enough to burden the world with their scribblings? It’s a mystery that badly needs solving. My first entry contains my thoughts about blogging and will set your expectations. The rest will probably be stream of consciousness garbage, much like you’ll find on any other blog. Perhaps we will both come away enlightened.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Just Tell Me To Shut Up Already

When I was a little girl, my Dad worked for a company called "Cigarette Service". It was a vending company that installed and serviced cigarette machines, video and pinball games, and best of all...jukeboxes. In reality, it barely kept our family of five fed, but to my sisters and me, it seemed like a very prestigious and important job.

When the 45's were taken out of rotation, my Dad brought them home to us. For children unused to having an excess of anything, it was an embarassment of riches. We had stacks and stacks of those glossy black disks. We didn't have much for which to be envied, but our record collection was something special. We enjoyed the status that it conferred upon us.

Our record player was a shabby beige thing that looked like a well travelled suitcase. It wasn't fancy, but it would hold a fat stack of 45's or lp's. It sat in what is now a tastefully decorated office, appointed with all the trappings of modern life: a computer, a scanner, a printer, mail both junk and genuine, things to be filed, things to be forgotten.

But was our playroom; a place of light and warmth with lemon lime walls and soaring ceilings. We spent many happy afternoons there, doing all the silly, pointless, wonderful things that children do.

One of those silly, pointless things, was putting five or six 45's on the record player and then, with arms outstretched, whirling around one another in sloppy ellipses; hair, knees, elbows ablur. We spun and spun, giggling when we bumped into each other, sometimes knocking one another to the floor, sometimes simply careening off of each other, jolted back into our own orbit by the force of our bones knocking together.

When the last song had ended (usually, it was ""Wildfire" by Michael Martin Murphy. It was our favorite, so we saved it for the end, but sometimes it was "The Night Chicago Died" by Paper Lace which was our second favorite) we would collapse on the carpet and ride the swell of dizziness, laughing at the way our eyes jumped around in their sockets.

"She ran calling Wiiiiiiiiiiiiildfiiiiiiiiiiiire..."

It was always good; a wave of buoyant, lilting syncope that set us down on gentle feet and then vanished, leaving only giddiness in it's wake. Then we'd lie there in the sunbeams, wiping strands of hair from our sweaty brows, breathing heavily and waiting for the equilibrium to return so we could stagger to our feet and do it again.

No matter how many times we did it, we never got sick, or sick of it.

See what I did there?

I plucked a barely breathing something from a dark and shadowy corner of my mind and made it alive again. With words. That's what I do. It's what I've always done. And I'm worried. Because that too, is what I do. Worry.

I'm worried that these migraines are carving my brain like a fat juicy bird on a Thanksgiving platter. I'm worried that like that bird, my brain will be left a ravaged shell of a thing; skeletal and useless, no meat, no substance.

The vertigo I am experiencing now is not the benign dizziness of my childhood. It is a symptom of damage that cannot be undone. And I wonder how much more my brain can take before losing things that are vital; memories and abilities that make me who I am.

I can tell that I am diminished. There are times that I have to struggle to find a word, where once it would have leapt onto the page almost before I had thought it. Sometimes, in the middle of a sentence, I lose my train of thought. I can't focus the way I used to. I feel scattered, disjointed. I forget things. I dont follow through.

I thought it was a Mom thing, or maybe an age thing. But now I'm afraid that it's a brain thing. My precious brain...the only thing I slowly being destroyed by a force I can't understand or control.

And if words are taken away from me...I don't know who or what to be.

Now, it could be, that I'm borrowing trouble. Maybe it's not that bad. Writing is not the only thing that's second nature to me; pessimism is equally innate. So I'm well aware that I could be obsessing over nothing.

But the what ifs haunt me. I can't seem to shake this sense of doom. It clings to me like...something clingy. Oh my God, you see? Clingy like WHAT? Like what....

Like a baby possum clings to it's mother's back. Like a writer clinging to her waning ability. Clutching. Desperate.


I suddenly feel very naked, having admitted to my fear. Vulnerable is not something I do well. Just ask my husband. "Why won't you ever let me be there for you?" he asks. And it's true. I don't like to need.

But right now, it's not in me to deny the need. I need to know I will still be me; the writer, the wordsdmith, in five years, ten, twenty.

Who can give me that?

I want to go back to that lemon lime room and whirl my troubles away. I want to lie gasping next to my sister and feel her breath on my cheek. I want the simple carelessness of those days. I want to relish the dizziness instead of fearing it.

I want to be unafraid and undamaged again.

God, I am such a drama queen. I'm annoying myself. To quote Loretta in "Moonstruck"....

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Well It's Not A Brain Tumor....

but it isn't Meniere's disease either. Now I wish it was.

Last night at about 5:30 the phone rang. I knew it was the doctor's office from the caller ID, but when I realized it was the doctor calling herself, my heart sunk a little bit.

It seems that my brain shows evidence of several strokes, one of which has damaged my cerebellum. The cerebellum is responsible for the integration of sensory perception, equilibrium, and motor functions. That would explain my dizziness, and my inability to balance on my right foot.

There are also multiple lesions in the white matter of my brain, which is consistent with a history of migraines. They are now beginning to realize that migraines affect the physical structures of the brain. But it could also mean multiple sclerosis or other neurodegenerative disease. I will have to have further evaluation to figure all that out.

During Diminutive One's delivery, I had an excruciating headache...easily the worst I've ever had. Nobody seemed to find this worrisome and I assumed it was just a normal symptom of the pre-eclampsia. When I was nearly fully dilated, my blood pressure suddenly shot through the roof. The OB warned me, gently, that if I didn't deliver him quickly, she would have to give me a c-section.

If you know anything about me you know that I have a morbid fear of medical procedures, particularly any kind of surgery. There was no way I was going to allow them to gut me like a fish. So I pushed through the rest of my cervix and delivered him in about three pushes. I tore from stem to stern because of his hasty exit from my lady parts. But by God I avoided a c-section!

Right after he was born, they made all non-medical personnel leave the room except for Husband. I didn't know it at the time, but I was on the verge of a major stroke. They quickly started pumping me full of magnesium sulfate and as far as I know...that did the trick. I was on that stuff for two days and it was horrible. But then I went home and that was the end of that.

My doctor tells me it's very possible that the damage occurred then, and nobody realized that I actually had experienced a cerebral vascular accident. But there's just no way to know for sure. It could have happened during one of my many migraine attacks, and I just wrote it off as part and parcel of my typical migraine symptoms. I recently had a particularly severe migraine, and it could have occurred then. Certain types of strokes mimic migraines. It's possible I was suffering a stroke while assuming I was just having another migraine. Or, it could have been both.

So now I have to see a neurologist and have another, more detailed scan of my brain called an MRA, which will allow them to see all the blood vessels in my brain, and deterimine if I am at any immediate risk for another stroke.

I have to start taking blood pressure medication immediately, because even though my blood pressure is only slightly elevated, even that can be dangerous if I have weakened or obstructed blood vessels in my brain. doctor feels that the neurologist will want to start treating my migraines much more aggressively. Which means working harder at finding something to prevent them, rather than just treating the symptoms.

I've tried a lot of drugs to prevent migraine, and they all had horrible side effects. The calcium channel blockers made me so lethargic I could scarcely move. The anti-seizure meds caused facial ticks and aphasia. The narcotics for pain made me nauseated and completely incapable of performing every day tasks.

So I gave up and decided just to live with them. I reasoned that it was better to be incapacitated for a couple of days a month, than to feel like death warmed over all the time. So I've just been suffering through them. Little did I know that every migraine I've ever had has been leaving it's mark on my poor brain. I really shouldn't Google, like...ever, but I can't seem to help myself. I did find this article which explains the theory behind migraines and brain damage.

It makes sense really. If you've ever experienced a migraine, it's hard to believe that there isn't something major going on inside your brain.

So anyway. It is what it is. For now, I'm going to believe that those strokes are old and the danger is long past. It's the only way I can keep from freaking completely out. And, on the bright side, even though I have to have another scan, which isn't exactly pleasant, at least I know what to expect this time, and I know I can handle it.

So, I really didn't mean this to be a "woe is me" type post, but more of a PSA. If you have migraines, don't pooh pooh them. Seek help. I've had them for nearly 30 years and have only treated them for a fraction of that time. Now I'm paying the price, it seems. And don't put off diagnostic tests, regardless of the cost, as I did. If I'd had the stupid MRI a year ago, would I be in this condition right now?? Maybe, maybe not. But I wish I had just gone.

I guess now when someone tells me that my brain is addled, I can't exactly argue...can I?

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Bein Werkin Mom Not So Ez Akshully

Whew. I am sort of frazzled mentally, so this will be your standard update on my life rather than anything truly interesting or erudite.

This week has been a whirlwind. I honestly can't believe I haven't posted since last Sunday. I don't know how working people get everything done. Right now, my husband is at home, which makes things infinitely easier. But I don't know how we're going to manage everything when both of us are working. Even with older kids, getting everyone off to school and work on time is going to be a challenge. Luckily, I am able to work from home as needed, but on those days that I do go in....oy.

My project is going well, although the first day I thought to myself...I am in WAY over my head here. But, I've completed the first and most difficult phase, and am now feeling less panicked and more confident.

I think I'm going to take the advice of readers, and that's all I'm going to say about my job. The last thing I need is to get Dooced before I even receive my first paycheck.

So I'll tell you instead about my MRI. Yes. I finally got one. It's funny how something as simple as vertigo will motivate a person. Well that, and the fact that I can't balance on my right leg (all my migraines are on the right side), and I have ringing in my ears that is getting progressively worse.

Also, strangely, the night of husband's class reunion, feedback from the band's microphone almost caused me to fall flat on my face. It felt as if the world turned on its side for a moment. When the feedback stopped, the world righted itself and I was fine. Weird, huh?

My doctor thinks I have Meniere's disease. It's a disease of the inner ear, and there is no cure for it. The symptoms can be managed with drug therapy, and in severe cases, surgery may be warranted. However, people typically experience symptoms to some degree for the duration of their life.

I almost wish it was a brain tumor.

Anyway...all my symptoms can also be precursors to a stroke. Since I had pre-eclampsia during my last pregnancy, I am at increased risk for stroke, even though I am fairly young. This is why I can't take Triptans (Immitrex, Maxalt, Relpax) for my migraines...they could trigger a stroke. So in order to rule out any other causes for my symptoms, I had to have an MRI.

One reason I had been putting off having one was cost. We have HORRIBLE insurance with a high deductible. We never meet it, because all things considered, our family is fairly healthy. So I would have to pay for the test out of pocket. But my doctor was insistent. She had been wanting me to have one for several years due to the increasing severity of my migraines and the onset of some new symptoms such as facial ticks during a migraine attack. So she decided to take it up with my insurance company herself.

Somehow, she got them to approve the procedure and several days later I received a letter from my insurance company stating such. It went on to say that "this is not a guarantee of payment"....along with a lot of other hyperbole. When it really comes down to is that they might decide to pay it, they might not. So I went in and had a $2,000 test, knowing I might ultimately have to pay for it myself. While we have no income.

Stressful? Why no, why do you ask?

I was a little apprehensive about it. I am not claustrophobic, but I have heard that many folks who did not expect to have a problem with it, did. I really did not want to have a spazz attack in front of some baby faced lab tech.

But in I went, dragging my husband along for moral support. I sat in the waiting room and looked around at the people, trying to figure out why they were there. I confess, people watching is one of my favorite pastimes.

I sat and listend to an elderly woman and her daughter discussing all the reasons why she couldn't continue to live on her own. The woman's voice was tremulous as she argued her case. Clearly, she was loathe to surrender her independance, but it was obvious from her physical condition that she needed to be cared for. Her back was bent into a question mark and her gnarled hands shook with palsy. She could not walk without support.

The daughter said with some truculance...."Ah cain't be liftin' you Mama. I'm down in ma back. And neither cain Ruthie. She's ain't no bigger'n a mite."

God...I do not want to get old.

At last my turn came and the lab tech turned out to be a handsome black man whose age made me feel fairly confident that he wouldn't fry my brain, and whose manner was soothing, but not obsequious.

He asked me to place my head in a barred structure that looked exactly like a cage. A head cage, how nice. But I didn't balk. I laid down and placed my head inside as instructed. He gingerlyN placed some headphones upon my head, handed me a button on the end of a thick cord and demonstrated that we could communicate when I was inside the cylinder of doom (not his words). Then he closed the cage, patted my arm kindly, and slid me inside.

I was really quite comfortable. A thick cushion behind my knees positioned my back comfortably and another cushion beneath my neck prevented tension. There was air gently circulating inside, and a mirror directly above me reflected the scene outside the window located behind the machine. That mirror really helped me feel less confined. I could see blue sky and trees and cars going down the busy road. I could see the grass and leaves rippling in the breeze. This isn't so bad! I thought.

And then the noise started.

When they said loud...they meant...LOUD. Even with the headphones on and music playing, it was deafening. The first series of noises sounded exactly like an alarm and I wondered if there was some kind of nuclear melt down occurring. I jumped and my heart thumped in my chest. The noise triggered a wave of vertigo that made me fearful of vomiting inside that tiny little tube.

The technician must have realized I was in distress (Or maybe everyone thinks that's an alarm and that's the point at which people freak the flock out) because his voice sounded in my left ear..."Don't worry, that's just the machine callibrating the magnet."

No nuclear meltdown. Awesome.

The first phase lasted twenty minutes. I was mostly okay, but at one point, my eyes began to tear due to the circulating air. When I realized I couldn't reach up and wipe it away because my arms were pinned to my sides, I had to fight a wave of panic. I managed to remain calm, but I was incredibly relieved when he slid me out to give me an injection of contrast dye. The dye was to define the borders of my inner ear structures, which are difficult to see. He was a good injectionist and I scarcely felt the needle stick.

"Doin' alright?" he asked.

"Well, it's not the funnest thing I've ever done, but I think I'll be okay."

"Ten more minutes and you'll be all done." he assured me.

That was a very long ten minutes. But I survived.

"So...." I joked, "Do I have a brain tumor?"

The technician looked at me with a wry expression on his face.

"I'm afraid I can't tell you. By law, technicians are not allowed to interpret or diagnose. We just take the pictures."

I rolled my eyes and he grinned, which made me think I probably wasn't going to need brain surgery. He helped me up from the table and I was on my way.

And now I wait. If there are no obvious problems, then the diagnosis will most likely be Meniere's disease, although I will probably have to see and audiologist and an ENT to confirm.

Oh, and that other kind of vertigo I had? The BPPV? Completely seperate issue, although the two tend to go hand in hand. It could happen again.

This condition can be hereditary. My Mom tells a story about how my Dad once took us kids on a ridiculously tame kiddy amusement ride...and spent the rest of the day in bed, sick and green. So I knew he was prone to severe motion sickness, but I didn't know he experienced vertigo on a daily basis. But my Mom tells me he has trouble looking up, such as lying beneath a car to work on the engine, but also has intermittent dizzines with no apparent cause. He's never been diagnosed with the disease, mainly because he won't go to the doctor, but it sounds as if he may have it too.

My sister has suffered from dizzy spells all her life, but assumed it was due to her vision problems. She was born with severe strabismus (crossed eyes). Despite surgery and extensive therapy her eyes still work mostly independant of one another. As a result, one eye is much weaker and her depth perception is pretty much non-existant, which causes her to walk into doors and bump her head on things constantly. But she wonders now, if there might be another cause. Now that I have been (almost) diagnosed with Meniere's, she wonders if she might have it too.

What a lovely family legacy, eh?

Now, I must go address the pile of laundry that has been mocking me all week. I hate that weekends are now all about catching up. But...that's the way it goes. We'll adjust. The paycheck helps.

So there we go. Aren't you glad you tuned in today?

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Sorta Kinda Almost The Same

Remember how thrilling back to school used to be? Well, admittedly, its still thrilling as an adult, but for entirely different reasons.

But back then, what I really looked forward to was picking out all new school supplies. It was consolation for the fact that our glorious freedom had come to an end and that the next nine months would find us ensconsed inside a classroom being force fed a steady diet of facts and figures.

I remember almost every lunchbox I ever had, but three really stand out in my memory as the coolest of the cool; Holly Hobby (1st grade), Six Million Dollar Man (2nd grade) and Charlie's Angels (4th grade).

I remember stiff new clogs and thick knee socks and a new vest with rainbow stripes on it, just like Mork from Ork. I remember Ten-O-Six and Love's Baby Soft and Bonne Belle lip smacker in the little tin with the slide off top. I remember cowl neck sweaters with stick pins and glasses with a silver initial sticker in the corner of one lense.

Scented markers that made you woozy, folders with sparkly unicorn graphics, notebooks with crisp clean pages, and then one year, a true miracle of modern stationary...pens that erased.

I developed a deep abiding love of school supplies that has stayed with me. Each year, I have looked forward to purchasing school supplies for my boys, and have always been a little puzzled by their lack of enthusiasm. But it's not the same these days. The kids all get hot lunch, so the thrill of buying a new lunchbox is unknown to them. And they're just so used to getting new things any old time, that the magical retail abandon of back to school shopping has been lost.


So...anyway...going back to work is kind of like going back to school.

I realized I had no way to transport my laptop. I have no case because the stupid thing has never left my house. I needed a refill for my day planner, which I haven't used since 2004; that ill-fated year that I volunteered to be a PTSA chair. I thought I should have a few new things to wear, since most of my wardrobe is most definitely not suitable for the office. A few pens, a couple legal pads...a gal has to take notes during meetings afterall.

So yesterday I went out and bought myself a gorgeous faux alligator work tote with laptop sleeve and lots of room for essential working woman type stuff. I bought three new tops to go with the black and khaki dress pants that have been languishing in the back of my closet. I bought some sleek pens with ergonomic grips. I bought all manner of note taking paraphanalia. I bought a business card case, cause I was informed in a rather blase manner, as if it were the most mundane detail in the world, that my business cards would probably take two weeks. Business cards??? Be still my heart.

Ohhhh, it was a special special day. And as I stood there admiring the stylish insulated lunch bags that didn't look at all like lunch bags, I was reminded of that day so long ago, when the thing I looked forward to most, was the opportunity to unscrew the cap on my Holly Hobby thermos to enjoy some lukewarm Hi-C.

I think my first day of work is going to be almost as exciting as that day.


Thursday, August 13, 2009

Holy #&%*

I got the job.

In a hugely ironic twist of fate, I will be working for the Marketing Department of an IT Services Company as the, ummmm, hmmmmm. I don't seem to have a title.

Basically, this company wants to expand their reach into the blogosphere (more specifically, they want to target Moms and Mom bloggers) and the various social media venues.

That's where I come in.

I will create a blog for their site/product, as well as establishing a presence for their company in the vast social media network.

Then, I will update content and maintain these various platforms as well as developing other avenues to promote the product.

This is a very diverse company and right now I am dedicated to this particular project, but the owner says he has about a billion things he can use me on.

The coolest part? They have just hired an honest to goodness journalist who used to work for a very well known television media GIANT, and I will be working closely with him to get this project off the ground.

He is cool. And I am kind of like...revering him. But maybe that will wear off and I will be able to talk to him without sounding like a complete moron.

As I said in my earlier post...this all happened incredibly fast. A friend of mine works for this company. She thought that I was the perfect person for the position as soon as her boss mentioned he was thinking of hiring someone. She hadn't wanted to tell me about it until he had fully committed to the idea and was ready to go forward, because he had been waffling about it for several months. She didn't want to get my hopes up.

So last week, she emailed me and filled me in. She warned me that she really had no idea when he would actually hire someone. It could be year from now, it could be tomorrow. I said that was fine, since my calendar was free and clear and I certainly had no hard and fast prospects for employment in the near future.

She asked me to send my resume (snort. Resume?) and some writing samples so that when he was ready, she could pounce. So I did, not really expecting anything to come of it.

Yesterday morning she called me at 10:00 am and said her boss had reviewed my stuff, and was ready to talk to me and could I come in today at 3:00?

Commence 3...2...1.

So I allowed myself a moment to freak the flock out, but then I pulled my shit together, dug something out of my closet to wear (no panythose this time) and went to the interview.

And it was awesome. I am not well educated, I am not business savvy, I am not experienced. But I can come off as polished and poised and articulate in an interview situation. At least, I could, many years ago. I hoped I still had it, and it turned out, I did.

And it was kind of awesome to be sitting in an office with grownups talking about grownup stuff.

After meeting with the Marketing Director (my friend) and the honest to goodness journalist, they left the office and I knew it was time to talk turkey. He offered me the job and then asked me if I wanted to think about it.

"Um, honestly, I'm ready to jump in. I don't need to think about it. Do you need to think about it?"

"Nope." he said.

And so, I am now, gainfully employed.

And it's not even at Wal-Mart.


Wednesday, August 12, 2009


I have a job interview today. It's all happened rather quickly and I haven't had much time to think about the pros and cons, the what ifs, or the logistics of the whole thing. That's a good thing. Because, you see, I haven't been on a job interview in fourteen years. Yes. Four. And then...teen.

I lost my job when I was three months pregnant with Pubescent One. It seemed like a disaster at the time, but turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Before the layoff, I had begun to have an inkling that I wouldn't be able to leave him, but it wasn't until it came time to head back out into the job market that I realized what an enormous relief it had been.

I tearfully and fearfully told my husband that I couldn't go back to work. He was worried. The wellbeing of three people would be resting squarely on his shoulders, and that's a heavy burden to bear. But he said that if that's what I wanted, we would make it work. And we did.

I've been a stay at home Mom ever since.

Only once in fourteen years have I sought to escape my comfortable little domestic bubble. Here is the story of what happened that day.

I guess things couldn't go much worse that that, which is something.

Wish me luck.

So You Had A Bad Day (originally posted 11/07)

Yesterday, I did something that I haven't done in fourteen years.

I consider myself a pretty confident person. A strong person. I like to think of myself as a "tough nut", yannow? Fearless.

And still, it had me a lot more freaked out than I would have liked.

The thing? I went to apply for a job.

I spent the night beforehand writing a cover letter, gathering up relevant documents and making copies, and filling out the application that I downloaded from their website.

When I got to the part about previous employment, I was confronted by the fact that for the past 13 years, I have no defineable work history.

Have I worked? Shitchyea.

I have worked harder than at any job I have ever held.

I have been chauffer, social secretary, chef and menu planner, household manager, manual laborer and general handyman, laundress, medical care coordinator, risk management specialist and disaster recovery professional.

But none of that matters.

So I went online to get the address and phone number of my former employer (What? It's been THIRTEEN years.), only to find that the Branch agency of the National Financial Services company I worked for had closed. Ten years ago.

Prior to that I worked at a rather high profile law firm. My employment there only lasted six months and culminated in a little incident wherein I told the head partner that he was an insufferable ass and that he could take his docket and shove it right up his brief.

Then I walked out and never came back. I was so pissed off that I even left my insulated lunch bag and my favorite coffee mug behind.

Say, that reminds me of a little piece of wisdom I could pass along here. If you're ever tempted to apply for unemployment benefits from a law firm that specializes in employment and labor law...that would be a monumental waste of time.

Apparently, they don't consider asstastic bosses adquate reason for granting benefits, although, kindly, the attorney they sent to represent the firm at the mediation did tell me he's wanted to say that very thing to the head partner for 20 years.

So anyway, I hesitated to use them as a reference.

I tracked down a few of the agents I had worked with at the agency. They function as independant contractors, but are listed as affiliates in company related directories and any public relations material.

I selected a few I had been somewhat chummy with and hoped they would remember me.

I ran to Target for pantyhose. I haven't worn pantyhose in YEARS, literally, and I had no idea what size I needed. I took an educated guess based on the ubiquitous but entirely fallacious size chart on the back of the package.

I dragged a skirt out the depths of my closet, dusted off some high heeled boots I bought on clearance last season and then wore once because they hurt my feet, and laundered my best twinset.

Yes, I own a twinset. You wanna make something of it?

The following morning I had an ominous premonition of what my future could be like when I tried to get both boys and myself ready to head out the door.

At one point, I was standing in the kitchen in my very mom like underwear, with concealer ringing my eyes and and a barrel brush tangled in my hair, screeching at both of them to turn off the television and go brush their teeth.

They looked at one another, and Pre-Pubescent One cocked one brow at Diminutive One. WTF? Diminutive One shrugged almost impreceptibly in response. Beats me bro. Pre-Pubescent One inclined his head sideways. We should probably do it before her head explodes or something. Diminutive One gave a single nod. I'm with you Dude.

"Okay Mom, chill, we're going. Just ummm, go get dressed. Everything is cool."

Shortly after that I discovered that the pantyhose I bought were in fact, one size too small. No matter how vigorously I did the pantyhose dance, they were not going to clear my upper thigh bulges. I was left with about an inch of nylon suspended tautly between my legs. These babies would be no defense against chub rub, but they would have to do.

My lack of foresight in the matter of ill fitting panytyhose would come to bear later in the day. But for now, it seemed the only real problem was my somewhat shortened stride. Between the heels and the nylon holding my thighs in a stranglehold, I was forced to mince. I told myself it was ladylike and thought no more about it.

Miraculously, I got Pre-Pubescent One to school and Diminutive One to the doctor on time. After I dropped Diminutive One off at school, I headed to the library to turn in my applications. I was going to two different branches, each one having a different position available.

The woman at the front desk was very friendly. She took my application and explained that the manager wasn't in at presesnt, but she would make sure she got the application.

"Okay, thank you. Could you just tell her that there is documentation attached that should serve as proof of employment at my last job?? It's been thirteen years, you see and the branch has closed and I realized I had nobody to verify employment and so I attached those certificates to prove that I worked there. And then I realized that they're in my maiden name? So I also attached a copy of my marriage certificate. I couldn't find my social security card, so I attached a copy of my driver's license as well. Do you think that will be adequate?"

She looked at me kindly.

"Hon, I know how you feel. I was so terrified when I went back to work after staying home with my kids. But I'm sure everything is in order. And I'll tell her how nice you look."

It was then that the sausage casing holding my belly flab in stasis flipped over with an audible snap and rolled down to mid thigh with terrifying swiftness. I stood there with a smile frozen on my face, wondering if I could get to the bathroom before they rolled clear down to my boot tops.

"Er, yes, thank you." I said tersely.

I pranced to the bathroom as inconspicuously as I could, clenching my thighs together in a desperate attempt to trap the nylon between them and prevent it from descending further, and with it, my dignity.

Alas, lady luck had decided to abandon me. As I approached, I saw that a bright yellow ribbon which said "Closed for maintenance" had been hung accross the doorframe.

I said a very bad word and seriously considered going into the men's room. There weren't a great many men in the library that I had noticed, and it would only take a moment for me to tear the wretched garment off my person. But, I reasoned, it wouldn't do for a potential employee to be found in the men's room disrobing.

So I hobbled to my car, where I then faced the dilemma of how to bend over and remove my boots without baring my behind, which was now covered only by my skirt and my threadbare cotton underpants, to the patrons of the neighboring YMCA who cycled and strode vigorously in front of an enormous window, providing a panoramic view of yours truly in all her humiliation.

I decided it would be best dealt with in the privacy of my own home, so I simply slid into the van and closed the door with a sigh of relief.

Turns out that decision was not well thought out either.

As I drove, the pantyhose crept ever lower, until they were just below my knees. They would have rolled all the way to my ankles if I hadn't been wearing boots. It's very difficult to drive when one's lower legs are bound together by industrial stength nylon.

In a herky jerky fashion, I sallied forth, hoping like hell I wouldn't get stopped and asked to get out of the car for a sobriety test. "Please Officer, could I remove my pantyhose first?"

I could just imagine the guffaws as the officer recounted the story for his squadmates later on.

"Whadjou tell her Carl? Why Certainly ma'am, but I have to advise you that removing your pantyhose is not likely to lower your blood alcholol level."?

"No, no...he said, Ma'am, it's against policy for an officer of the law to accept sexual favors."

"HA! Carl should be so lucky. He ain't likely to get an offer like that before he retires!!"


Luckily, I made it home without further incident.

When I at last made it into the house, I sat down on the floor just inside the front door like a kindergartener in the coat room, and pulled off my boots. Then I extricated myself from the diabolical pantyhose prison in which I had unwittingly placed myself. I plucked the hateful things off the floor and stuffed them savagely into the garbage can.

I was done in. turns out that both positions had already been filled. But that's okay. I took the hardest step of putting myself out there again. It was nervewracking, but it also felt good.

I can still do it. And I will find something.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Wiped Out

Diminutive One starts Middle School in four days.

That seems impossible. Where other children his age are marching resolutely towards adulthood, he is still very much a little boy. He still enjoys playing legos and cops and robbers in the back yard, and he doesn't care who knows it. That part of him I love. He is his own person, public opinion be damned.

I'm pinning a lot of hopes on Middle School, but not the kind you would imagine. I'm not hoping for straight A's. I'm not hoping he'll join chorus or band. I'm not hoping he'll become fluent in a foreign language.

Nope. I'm just hoping he's finally going to start wiping his ass.

He doesn't, you see. And I'll be damned if I know why.

Probably for the same reason he doesn't shower, brush his teeth, or comb his hair. Probably for the same reason his clothes are worn inside out or backward fully 90% of the time. Probably for the same reason he refuses to tie his shoes, zip his fly or rebutton his shirt when he has done it all cockamamie.

He simply does not view these activities as necessary or valuable. To him, they are a waste of time and effort.

Oh we've been over it a time or two. I've explained that feces on his hands and his body can make him and other people sick. I've explained that if he doesn't brush his teeth everyday, twice a day, that they will fall out. I've explained that the bumps on his upper arms are there because he won't use soap when he showers.

I've explained it all. Nicely. A million times.

And I've explained it not so nicely a time or two as well.

I know what you're thinking.

Why don't you try this, and why don't you do that? Obviously, you're not being hard enough on him, or consistent enough. You haven't taken away enough privileges or given him enough chores. If you're FIRM with him, he'll stop eventually.

Believe me when I tell you we have tried absolutely EVERYTHING, including bathing him ourselves while he cowered behind the shower curtain with his cheeks flaming.

The one thing we haven't tried are humiliation tactics. Do you remember the after school special with Lance Kerwin where his Mom hung his wet bedsheets out the window for everyone to see? 30 years later I still feel sorry for that fictional kid. I won't do that to my own.

I have said horrible things to him though, which is just as bad. I'm not proud of that. And I have cried in my bed at night for the words that came out of my mouth; words that can't be unsaid.

But sometimes, when I'm worn to a frazzle, frustrated, tired, angry....I just snap.

Like the time I opened one of the toy bins in his room and found about 17 pairs of stained and crusted underwear crammed in there. For a moment, I was fairly nonplussed. So that's where all his underwear went.

And then it dawned on me. So that's what that smell is!

I had been steamcleaning and disinfecting for a month trying to get rid of that smell. I thought it was the carpet or the mattress. All that work, when all I had to do was remove the offending garments and launder them. He sat there and watched me, knowing. I could have killed him. But instead, I told him he was a pig.

And you all thought I was a good mother.

It seems impossible that he doesn't understand. But he really doesn't. Part of his disorder is that he just doesn't make certain connections. He doesn't understand that these things have social implications. He doesn't understand that his personal habits affect other people. He really doesn't get that nobody wants to be friends with someone who smells, and he doesn't really believe that he does smell. And if he does, so what?

His psych thought he might have a phobia about touching poop, but I wasn't buying it.

"Couldn't it be that he's just lazy?" I asked.

"Weeeeelllll, it could be. But I think it's more likely that he just doesn't understand the larger implications of not having good hygeine. And because of that, it's just not important to him."

"But other kids tell him all the time that he smells. And he's an incredibly bright child. How can he be so smart, and yet not be able to understand that he has to wipe his butt?!?!"

"You've been his mother for ten years. You know that sometimes, things just don't get through, and nobody can explain why. And the things that motivate other children, don't motivate kids like him."

"What WILL motivate him?" I asked.

"There's no way to know. It's a process of trial and error. We just have to keep trying until something clicks."

And you would think that standing at the kitchen sink scrubbing all those underwear by hand would make some kind of impression on a kid, wouldn't you?

Not Diminutive One.

So we soldier on. It's getting marginally better, but it's an ongoing issue.

I'm very worried about what's going to happen to him in Middle School. But also, I have to tell you, that part of me is hoping he will be ashamed and humiliated enough to effect some change in his personal habits.

Because I am tired. Really, really, really tired.

I thought long and hard about posting this. I wondered if I had crossed a line in terms of sharing too much about the intimate details of his life and in so doing, exposed myself for the fraud that I am. But I know there are other kids out there like Diminutive One; kids on the spectrum or kids who are just different. And I know there are other Moms out there like me.

Maybe it helps to know you're not alone, and that someone else has felt your frustration. Maybe it helps to know someone else has flipped their lid, had apoplectic fits, and pulled a full on Mommy Dearest once or twice.


Sigh. Here we come Middle School, for better or for worse.

Sunday, August 02, 2009

And A Good Time Was Had By All

Last night was my husband's 25th high school reunion. His graduating class was small and 25 years tend to scatter people a bit, so it wasn't a huge shindig. But it was a pretty good sized crowd.

There was a live band singing classic rock and they were pretty damn good. The lead singer and guitarist is/was Husband's best friend growing up and all through high school. His wife kind of took me under her wing, knowing I felt awkward and out of place. We had met once before at the 10th reunion, but I was very pregnant, so we didn't stay long and I didn't get to know her very well. But last night I found out that she is funny and friendly and very sarcastic. Needless to say, we got along like gangbusters.

Here's what I learned last night:

There is always someone who got fatter, grayer, or more wrinkled than you, or lost more teeth.

Being in a room full of middle aged white people boogeyin' down is incredibly liberating. Nobody really cares about the flab, the cellulite, the gray hair, the lack of rythym; theirs or anyone else's. They just care about fun.

I no longer need copious amounts of alchohol to be persuaded to shake my groove thang.

I can still shake my groove thang.

However, I can no longer shake it until 4 in the morning with impunity. It was very apparent the next day; on my face and in my bones.

High heels are for the young and slender footed. I still have strap marks embedded in my flesh.

I still care more about having cute shoes than being able to walk properly. But only up to a point.

I can still draw looks from young guys. Although in this case, it might have been because I was shaking my groove thang in high heels and they were afraid I might take them down with me.

Sitting at the table right next to the band is not cool. It's just deafening.

Jello shots are much more enjoyable as a spectator.

Damn I'm tired. We slept a few hours, retrieved our children and will now commence doing absolutely nothing the rest of the day.

Now where did I put that foot bath.....