Wednesday, July 28, 2010

The Memory of Pain

I remember with great clarity the first sinus headache I can recall having. I was 6. It was a lovely sunny day. Sinus headaches always blast me the most on sunny days and there is little humidity. It is a cruel irony. They also happen when there is a weather front on its way to change conditions from whatever to something else. I am a walking barometer.

Anyway, this day when I was 6 I was in pain. My cheekbones hurt. My teeth hurt. Moving my eyes hurt. I lay down, it hurt. I sat up, it hurt. Our neighbor noted that it was too bad I was in pain, but my eyes were beautiful. Big and shiny.

Yesterday I had a migraine. I don't typically get them, although my father and brother have been plagued by them all their lives, and we are quite sure my paternal grandfather was as well. I generally can still manage my day, but I leave lights off and try to minimize the noise in my life. Which, hello, I live with three dogs and a three year old, not easy to do these days.

When I picked Cooper up from school yesterday, they said he had had a tricky day. He was weepy a lot of the day. Whined for me for 15 minutes after I dropped him off, cried whenever someone even touched him as if they had punched him or cut him. I looked down at him and saw big shiny eyes. Dark circles under them. "Oh my little bean, I bet you have a headache" I said.

Last week he was in this sort of state, and I decided to ask him if anything hurt. I didn't suggest WHAT might hurt, just if anything did. He nodded and said his teeth hurt. Ah, I know that feeling well. A little childrens motrin or tylenol and half an hour later he felt MUCH better. You could see it in his eyes.

The Bob rarely feels unwell. He hardly ever has a headache, a body ache, and when he gets a cold, he sniffs and moves on. I can see that sometimes my experience of pain which can be a full body, don't touch me or I might cry kind of experience is frustrating. It is hard to explain that sometimes the change in pressure in the air can make me feel like my head is going to implode and all my joints ache. Or like rabid porcupines are trying to crawl out of my eyeball. That loud voices resonate in my cheekbones as if a dentist was drilling without benefit of novocaine. But that is my experience and there isn't much I can do to stop it. You just take some stuff and ride it out.

Seeing the same symptoms in my child makes me a little sad. I hope for his sake it is mostly a sinus/weather thing, and not migraines. It won't surprise me if we do see a migraine or two in the next couple of years, but I hope it is not like it is for the other men in my family. But at least I know what I am dealing with and what can be done. Like not living where tornadoes are prevalent. I mean, that is a good idea for many reasons, but that kind of pressure change could put me in a coma. And then how would I get into the cyclone shelter?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

The Strength and Power Within...

I give up. That whole posting everyday thing is for the birds. By the time I think about the fact I haven't posted for the day, I am in bed half unconscious and am NOT getting up again to post.

In other news, I have two stories of two friends. Both have extraordinary strength and courage and deserve to have that noted for posterity.

First is a story of sadness, but within that sadness is strength and a future free of fear and pain. I have known this woman, L, for more than 10 years, and for all that time up until 2 years ago, she was a single person who lived her life fully. She is a runner, she has a life full of family and friends who love her. She is one of the most positive and joyful people I have ever met. It remained a mystery to many of us that she continued to be single, but then she finally met a guy. It was a long distance relationship, as she lives here and he lives in a more southern state. But eventually they decided to marry, and had a beautiful wedding in Hawaii.

Last week I saw her and noted that she did not wear what most would consider a traditional wedding band. I couldn't even recall if I ever noticed her wearing something more traditional. I asked if what she was wearing was her wedding ring. She paused, and in that moment I knew I would hear that she was getting divorced. What I wasn't prepared for was the rest of the story. The short version is he was an incredibly abusive man, who was vastly insecure and would belittle her, verbally assault her, and even went as far as to abandon her in another state, without any ID, cell phone or money during a road race they were running in. She ended up having to go to the police to find her way back to where they were staying.

It is an all too familiar story, how she didn't see it before they got married, and I am sure the long distance relationship helped hide any flaws, and then after they were wed the demons surfaced.

Fortunately for her, they own no property together, they have no children, and getting divorced will be relatively easy, especially since they live in separate states and he is not contesting it. I give her so much credit for standing up for herself and saying she is worth more, she deserved more. She feels humiliated and embarrassed, but that will pass. No one I know will judge her, we all care too much about her and want her to be happy and safe. Having been through a very amicable divorce, but still feeling a little bit of a failure, I know it is hard. But she is strong and positive and will survive.

The other story is completely different. There is a man I know who is gay and has been in a long term relationship with his partner and they have just adopted a little boy. Adoption is crazy on many levels, and most people attempt to adopt an infant, either privately, domestically or abroad. This couple decided to go through the Department of Social Services, and have adopted a 3 year old boy.

As a mother of a 3 year old, I think this is heroic and amazing and they deserve some sort of serious award. With sparkles and flowers. Sure they are skipping all of the infancy crap - no midnight feedings, no colic, no projectile vomit or diarrhea, but they are getting a fully formed personality handed to them, that they had no hand in shaping. They are getting a kid smack in the middle of the "WHY" stage. The "But I HAVE TO" stage. They are taking a child who has spent most of his short life in foster care. No matter how good a foster family is, that comes with baggage. They have chosen to do something that is hard to begin with, adopt, and adopt as a same sex couple. As advanced as we are as a society, we still seem to have issues with a few things. And they are adopting an older child. If that isn't love and commitment, I don't know what is.

I am so proud of these two people. Well three if you count M's partner. But these two individuals are examples of how to persevere, to stand for what you believe in. Don't let other people define you, be the best you you can be. And I am grateful for knowing them and having this example in my life.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Will you please stop talking...

Lately everyone in my life is talking A LOT. Not The Bob, but the Coop is definitely on some sort of talking marathon. And I cannot find the off button. The other day I was getting ready for work and he decided he should be upstairs with me, and it was NON STOP. "Mama, what are you doing", "Mama, what was that sound you are making", "I am pretending this belt is a rope, I swing on it", "Mama, where are you" and so on. I was exhausted and it wasn't even 7am yet.

Tonight we had a new yoga instructor, who was subbing for our regular instructor. His name is Fez, and he talked the entire class. I know most people think of yoga as this very spiritual, quiet experience. And that is true of some classes and styles of teaching. Not so much in Iyangar yoga, and DEFINITELY not for Fez. And I found it just a little annoying. Like when you go for a massage and the massage therapist talks through the whole thing. Hellooooo, I am here to RELAX, not talk to you. I don't know you that well, and frankly, I am paying a lot of money for you to just give me an awesome massage and NOT talk to me.

It is likely Fez will become the regular instructor for this time slot, once the new studio opens. I will probably continue to take his class, because there was something he said that I really liked. He shared that he was a cancer survivor. Prior to treatment he had been at a pretty highly developed level with his yoga practice. After treatment was done, he had lost a lot of his drive and ability to practice at that level. His instructor advised him that he needed to be gentle with himself, and that sometimes it is when you find the middle of your ability that you find the greatest opportunity for healing. You can see the outer or upper edge of your ability, but you don't push to get there. You work in the middle, and heal.

And I really appreciated that. Sometimes the whole idea of constantly growing, pushing, challenging is EXHAUSTING. I want to do X, whatever X is - yoga, singing, working, what have you, but there are times when the status quo, the place where I am comfortable and NOT challenging myself to grow, change, be more, is JUST FINE BY ME. Sometimes you need to just be in the middle, and be. To heal, to enjoy feeling a level of expertise at whatever I am doing, to feel competent for a moment. Most of my life is spent feeling like I am catching up, learning or just plain making it up as I go. I like the idea of working where I feel competent for a little while. So I thank Fez for pointing that out and giving me permission to give myself a break once and awhile.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

And the knot unravels just a little...

Today Bob was offered a job. A year and half after being laid off. And it is a HUGE relief. That knot that has been living just below my belly button unraveled just a little bit today. I was so happy for him when he told me. He had been working so hard at trying to make the real estate thing work, and unfortunately given how hard it is to break into that industry AND the lovely economic climate we are living in, it was not panning out quite as we had hoped. He is still going to keep it going as an option, but the full time job is what we needed.

Here is my kid enjoying his Buzz Lightyear action figure. For some reason Buzz says "Tally Ho!" when Cooper is in charge of his adventures. I do not know where that comes from. He cracks me up.

Today George Steinbrenner died. I am not a Yankees fan. Never have been, never will be. The Red Sox and the Indians are my teams. But I have spent most of my life hearing about Mr. Steinbrenner, and he was certainly a force of nature. His feuds with Billy Martin were legendary. He will certainly be missed for a variety of reasons.

I think today's lesson has been that I was more anxious about our financial situation than I was willing to admit. The relief that this job represents is astounding. I am so happy for him, for us.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

This is working out well...

Well, I am already an abysmal failure with the whole posting every day thing. This is why I never kept a diary either. That and rereading my adolescent blathering was beyond painful. Why anyone wants to revisit that angst I do not understand.

Friday I took the day off. I usually have Fridays off during the summer but with the holiday falling on Monday, we didn't have it off. But I decided to take it, since I have had to sacrifice some days off recently due to work related emergencies. The Bob had a job interview in the morning, Cooper went to school, so I got to have HOURS to myself. Gloriously alone. It doesn't happen very often anymore, and I forgot how nice it was to just BE. Not have anyone else around, talking to me, needing something from me, climbing on me. I worked out, took a swim and went shopping for some items I needed to celebrate my friend TR's birthday that evening. I also had rehearsal for the jazz trio in the evening. And here is my thing I learned for Friday. In preparation for rehearsal, I listened to the recordings of previous rehearsals I had made. I can tolerate listening to myself sing, but I HATE listening to myself talk. I am not sure I can even do justice to what I think I sound like. Most people do not like hearing recordings of themselves talk, so I am not unusual in this. But I was surprised at how flat my voice sounds. It annoys me to no end. So my solution to this is that while I am recording the rehearsals, I pause the recorder in between songs. That way I don't have to hear my annoying, flat, toneless voice. Weird. I am sure it is not that bad. Really. Yes it is.

Then on to Saturday. Because Cooper is completely into cartoons right now, and VERY into Wolverine, we have been watching the X-Men cartoons. Over and over again. I grew up reading the X-Men comic books my brother had, so I am pretty well versed in the X-Men characters. But there are some that I cannot remember at all. So, because I am good mom and love a good research project, I spent time on my friend Wikipedia, looking up the more obscure characters I didn't remember. I now know more than the average 46 year old woman should know about Gambit, The Banshee and Jubilee, as well as about some of the "bad" mutant dudes, like Juggernaut and Omega Red.

I SAID that not all the lessons I learned would be deep and life altering.

That brings us to today. The morning is not even over, and yet, I have learned something. My child is a consumer of the first order. I said I needed to go to Target for a few things, like razor blades and some lotion, and Cooper lit up like it was Christmas morning and said "GO TO TOY STORE??? BUY TOYS???? BUY BUZZ LIGHTYEAR????" He has not even seen any of the Toy Story movies, and he knows who Buzz Lightyear is. And he loves shopping for toys more than almost anything. I said we could look at Buzz stuff, so when we got to Target, we went off to the toy section. Cooper bopped from one isle to another, finding another and another and another thing to look at. At one point he stopped, put his hands up and said with wide eyes "There is SO MUCH stuff!"

Since I recently received some birthday money (Thanks Mom and Grandma!) I decided we could get Cooper one thing. So he opted for a Buzz Lightyear action figure (not figurine as I have been reminded more than once). Now Buzz, Iron Man and Spider Man are having an adventure in my living room. It is his own Toy Story in action. At least he puts these things to use.

Thursday, July 8, 2010


I shall just say it - I work with some incredible people. That is something I already knew, but today reinforced it. The big ugly thing that has been somewhat consuming at work is nearing an end, and part of today involved dealing with that. And through that interaction, I was reminded that I am truly a very fortunate woman. I work with smart, talented and gracious people, and this means more to me right now than I can express. In particular I learned how great the president of my college is. I have heard people express that they think he is a cold person, or not interested in knowing people at the college, but I know without a doubt that that is just not true. And today confirmed that.

My lesson for the day: It is easy to take for granted the people you see every day, that you talk to every day. But when the chips are down, sometimes you find that those are the people you can count on to be your champion, who hold you up and make sure you know they believe in you. And for that I am grateful.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

One thing...

Today is my birthday. HELLOOOOO 46. I like my age, for now. I haven't worried too much about it other than when I realize how old I will be by the time Cooper is in college. Older than the average bear for sure. I am the same age, if not older than, most of the parents of the students I work with now which on some days is disconcerting and other days makes me wonder WHAT WERE THEY THINKING having kids at such a young age.

Anyway, I have been puzzling through, wandering around in my head considering things I could do on this here blog each day for a year. A lot of people have done things with their blog like that. A picture of themselves a day for a year, that kind of thing. I don't feel the need to torture myself or any of my thousands of readers with a daily picture of MOI, so that was not the answer.

This morning my boss asked me if I felt wiser, for having advanced another year. And I realized that was the thing. Rather than consider just once a year what I have learned, I think I will attempt to put on here once a day one thing I learned that day. I said I will attempt to do it once a day, because if the interwebs conspire against me or I find myself in a black hole of access to technology on any given day, I might not be able to post.

I don't promise it will be profound every day either. It might be something as obvious as Do NOT put a liter of soda in the freezer. Unless you want to defrost and clean your freezer. You have been warned.

Today's thing I learned: Apparently one could say I have a very eclectic taste in music. My boss was asking me about iPods, as she is JUST getting one for the first time, and I was showing her mine and how iTunes works. She noted that I have Bach and Bossa Nova in my library, along with jazz, blues and blue grass and Aerosmith to name a few. She asked how I get exposed to music and find new things to listen to. I thought to myself, good LORD I don't even come close to having the exposure to new and different types of music that other people I know do, like my brother or some of my more creatively inclined friends who spend way more time on iTunes or Pandora listening to music. But in her mind, I have a broad range in my musical tastes.

So there it is. I am musically eclectic. Who knew.

And I miss the ducklings. I don't miss all the poop, but I miss their peeping and their little fuzzy selves. Apparently I am a duck person.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Ducks in the house!

This weekend we are hosting some exchange students. Some fluffy, yellow, peeping exchange students.

Meet Jack, Mack and Baby Quack. Only 3 ducklings survived of the original dozen Cooper's class incubated. They do not have a permanent home to go to yet, and they are a little young still, so they needed someone to keep an eye on them over the long weekend. I jumped at the chance, because I am a nut. I love these little fuzzy guys. Makes me wish I lived on enough property that I could keep them. However, I do believe that ducks are counter indicated with Schnauzers. Since my one dog, Ghengis Gus as I am calling him, has been at least partially if not completely responsible for the death of one mole, one bird and one chipmunk so far this summer in my yard, I think ducklings would be right in his crosshairs.

This is their home in my dining room for the weekend. They kind of smell. Actually, the ducks don't smell, their food smells. I thought it was the poop, but when I mixed the food the first time, I realized THAT is what smells. It is just a corn kind of smell, but it is stinky.

The easiest way to clean their cage is to put the top of the cage on the ground outside and hose out the bottom. They can't swim yet, they don't have the oils needed to float and stay warm, but they love to splash around in a shallow pan of water, so we put them out on the front lawn and had the neighbors visit.

And has anyone else noticed that my 3.5 year old is a giant? When did he get that tall???? I swear he grows an inch every night while sleeping. He is going to be 6 feet tall by September if he keeps this up.