June 7, 2010

Hiding: Day 54 -- My Catastrophes

Miner's first day gone, and it's already started out on a crappy note. Rocky -- who was supposed to let himself in -- knocked on the door to be LET in. And then he informs me he has company with him (in direct violation of what is probably the most important family policy right now: No Visitors.).

So that means I will wait in abject anxiety until it's over, which could be now, later, or never.

And I'm furious at Rocky no matter how sincere and compassionate his apologies are. He fudged the house policy at my very, very great (relatively) expense, and this, after Miner extended his weekend privileges because he is the more lenient parent.

Thanks a lot, son.

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So much for best-laid plans for a few small baby steps in the right direction.

 Priss offered to give Rocky her place in line for the bathroom because his shower would be quicker than her bath, but he let the water run for 45 minutes or more, give or take, no thought to his sister's kindness.

And maybe it wasn't the best decision for me to make, but I did decide to exert myself and call him on it, which he pushed against.

I should've been prepared for that, as an acknowledged risk, but I didn't -- stupid me who must always be in control and make judgments. I could not let it go.

So he stormed out of the room and snapped at Priss out of his anger at me, "Thanks, Prissy!" which was an additional travesty, as that was his payment to her for her generosity.

So I called him in here to point out his wrong, and what should happen but a huge escalation and blow-up about his selfishness and the result was me bellowing, "GET OUT!"

Miner is entirely inaccessible at the moment, so in my desperation, I called Mom in tears for the second time this week. She saved the day, apparently getting through to him when I couldn't, explaining what I couldn't about my condition, yet in a way that was respectful to me and not pitying. (Ah, pride survives all else.)

She told him these aren't normal times, I'm fragile right now, and we all have to deal with things in a different way. He understood that and agreed to "lie low."

The resolution came with an apology and him asking if I needed anything, and me apologizing and reassuring him I don't dislike his friends, I just can't tolerate stress of any kind, yada, yada, yada.

Thank God for my mother.

Naturally, Rocky's friend would be in earshot of the fallout, witnessing the worst it gets, because his mere presence alone added enormous pressure to me, which I knew would be the case if Rocky ever had company over during this time, which is why the policy is in place to begin with, to PREVENT meltdowns and blowups and explosions and implosions and all the like.

They just don't comprehend how delicate is the balance, how their trivial things are my catastrophes. And at times, I myself forget, when I try to take on something like a few phonecalls because I think I'm ready for it.

Hiding: Day 53 -- Condensed Homecoming

1. Hugs, flowers, chocolate, new coffee maker.
2. "We got new bathing suits!" (Read: tankinis I've specifically made a policy against.)
3. Meltdown.
4. Attempt at communication, explanation, resolution with spouse.
5. Fragile resolution: Husband leaves room, depressed wife self-medicates and dissolves into pathetic, weeping wad of self-pity.
6. Compassion, communication.
7. Shared nap for the first time in WEEKS.
8. Woman discovers archeological jackpot: McFaddin Beach, TX (east of High Island).
9. Shared enthusiasm.
10. Excavation trip inspiration? = Something new to look forward to?

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The McFaddin Beach Excavation Trip is EXACTLY what the doctor ordered. Secluded beach for miles and miles, well enough west of the oil spill that the kids should be able to swim with no trouble, a heavy concentration of archeological artifacts for Miner and I to beachcomb to our hearts' content, possible camping locale.

What more could we ask for?

I think it's funny our idea of a great beach vacation differs so dramatically from what most people envision. Don't get me wrong -- I love resort style vacations as much as everyone else, but moreso the idea of seclusion and the chance to find fossils and prehistoric artifacts. That makes up greatly for a lack of white sand and piƱa coladas.

The kids are definitely getting their Earth Science.

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"Grand Multiparity" - Having had more than five pregnancies; quoted br Dr. R***** in reference to me on the ultrasound order.

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Ate crab cakes and cabbage with him at dinner table. Talked about rocks and projectile points. Watched "Wolfman" together on the couch. Talked about dentistry. Now, he's gone, and I'm feeling awfully incompetent and unprepared.

Took prenatal vitamins for 4th night in a row (Good job, 'Ailina). Small responsibility successes.

No goals for tomorrow, except to find out accurate due date.

Bottom line: Feeling better, but damned scared about facing tomorrow alone. And very worried Wednesday appointment won't happen the way I want it to. Irrational fear, probably, but the anxiety is real.

June 5, 2010

Hiding: Day 51 -- Recovering at Mom's

I've decided to try to make a list of small milestones to look forward to, to get me through the hours and days until I'm well. I think I'll make a separate master list so I can add to it. First item: toast, sausage gravy, and orange juice for breakfast.

Things to Look Forward To

. Today: Toast, sausage gravy, and orange juice for breakfast.
. Tomorrow: Chicken & dumplings for lunch.
. Monday: Ultrasound.
. Wednesday: Psych appointment, prescriptions.

Hmm...not as dramatically effective as I thought it would be. Only four items on the list, and they end at Wednesday.

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Slept very, very little, and still more bad dreams. But woke up to two items on my list: toast & gravy and chicken & dumplings. Wasn't expecting both. But now I've overeaten, and I'm back in bed. I tried to sit up with Mom and Stepdad to watch TV with them for a while, but I was too weak and tired.

I expect Miner and the kids are on the road here for their cousins' birthday party. I doubt I'll see them or hear from them, which is another stress I have to get through, but there's always solitaire.

-----

Haven't heard from the family. Not that I really expected to.

Alternating between eating, playing solitaire, and sitting with Mom and Stepdad watching home improvement shows.

Feeling a little less foreboding today. Even surprised to find a few inspirational ideas going through my head for homeschooling, field trips, things with Miner, preparing for the baby, fixing the house.

But I really should ignore those thoughts with the same urgency I ignore the negative ones, because even positive thoughts will lead to the same place: pressure, failure, and/or disappointment. Then I'll be right back where I am right now because everyone will expect me to be "back to my old self," ready to take on the whole world. Ready, willing, and able to make a difference.

Not taking a step in ANY direction until I'm on medication. Period. For my own safety and sanity, and for the safety and sanity of those around me.

-----

Texted him to ask if he'd made it home yet. That was at 8:30. He hadn't even left yet. They won't be getting home until around midnight, if not later.

Been playing silly text-based games I downloaded. None are very good quality. Wish I had it in me to read a story. At least until I get sleepy. May take a melatonin anyway, even though it didn't help much last night.

Hiding: Day 50 -- How Doth He Love Me

Seems even isolated here in my old bedroom in Leesville, I can't escape the pain of being. My body is arranged in just the environment I need -- calm, quiet comfort -- but my head is still sick.

And 4.5 more days until I can drag myself into the psychiatrist's office to ask for some relief.

Had a migraine since before the sun came up. Not sure why. Had biscuits and gravy for breakfast, chili for lunch. Even a half cup of coffee. Some o.j. with breakfast, buttermilk with lunch. Slept most of the day. Tried sitting up with Mom and Stepdad in the afternoon, but they had a visitor, and tried thumbing through mail order catalogs for a while but that ended up stressing me out for some reason. So I came back to bed and have been wrestling with this headache ever since.  That, and more crying. The pain of that makes me so sick I don't even want to write about it, but to be general, thinking about the vicious cycle of wanting to be loved but pushing them (him) away, needing him but not wanting to need him and not trusting he sincerely CARES anyway.

How sad is that.

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I wonder, how long would it be before he'd miss me if we were apart? I mean, truly miss me? I think he has such an apathetic approach to life. It's like he experiences no emotion.

He once told me he rarely feels anything and is never "happy." At the time, he was describing what he thought might be Depression, but out of context, it's true -- it seems he is never happy or excited about anything. Especially nothing related to me.

Not a good time for me to be mulling over all this, since now is prime time for internalization and self-blame.

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Have played solitaire for solid hours this evening. Have even researched the connection between solitaire and Depression. The game helps so much to keep my brain active and focused and OFF the tormenting thoughts, which have taken a turn down those paths I've locked away and made permanently off-limits in my mind -- namely, his past transgressions, real, imagined, and every degree in between.

I would drag him off to marriage counseling if I were already being treated. Going now would be like trying to form a puzzle picture with pieces from a motorcycle, a radio, maybe a few items from the closet, a big blue ball, and Scotch tape. (????)

He sent me a photo of a bouquet of flowers he and Priss picked up for me while grocery shopping last night. In my favorite color. And it made me cry.

Ensuing Thoughts in Order:
1. I am so loved, more than I must know.
2. I am so loved, and so undeserving.
3. Maybe it was an impulse buy that was more of an afterthought and really didn't have anything to do with me.
4. Maybe it was a peace offering or some kind of compensation for a guilty conscience.
5. These thoughts are ridiculous. I'm crazy and don't deserve flowers.
6. Flowers = sadness.

??????

I took a melatonin, hoping it would knock me off the solitaire thing, but the only reason why I'm stopping now is because the phone battery is about to die, it's 12:25 AM, and I have to pee. Otherwise, I'd keep playing until I passed out. Certainly better than going to sleep to possibly face awful, awful dreams.

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4:30 AM. Disturbed by a dream I had that he somehow ended up with an invitation to some kind of business symposium, so he dressed up in a suit a pretended to go as a business entrepreneur. When it was his turn to introduce himself, he said he was into porn distribution and sales.

Then, a couple in the chair next to him started making out, then screwing, and he was trying to look away but couldn't help himself. Then suddenly everyone in the symposium was coupled up and copulating except him, but then some lady came over to him and he left with her. I ran to the airport trying desperately to get a ticket out of there but couldn't.

Then I dreamt I was trying to run him a bath, but Priss told me, "Gran is the only one who can run him a bath the way he likes it." I was so hurt. He didn't seem at all willing to tell me how to take care of him but was perfectly happy to have me remain inadequate.

And still fixating on him and imagining him noncommittal and indulging in all sorts of borderline vices I'll never know about. Usually, I can ignore the possibility and leave his sin (real or imagined) in his lake of sin (real or imagined) and separate myself from it, compartmentalize that in him, and live. But this Depression has destroyed all my coping mechanisms and left me defenseless against all these horrible thoughts.

So I end up resenting phantoms, reacting to apparitions, which sends me into a suppressed rage and perpetuates the bitter cycle of self-loathing.

There are even times when I feel like suggesting we separate.

?????

June 3, 2010

Hiding: Day 48 -- OB appt. & "Mom's Sanitarium"

Saw the OB today. Almost cancelled because this morning was the worst by far -- I think because Miner finally made it home so his presence was heavy and adversarial.

Couldn't tolerate a moment of it, so I called Mom crying, asking if I could come rest for a few days. Unbeknownst to me, she hopped in the car right away intent on coming to my rescue and sweeping me back to Leesville.  So here I sit.

Miner intended to go with me to the appt., but I asked him not to, told him it would only add more stress. He relented.

As I was walking out the door, Mom called to say she was meeting me at the hospital.

I arrived before she did, and I have to say, the waiting room almost killed me. Packed with young couples, ladies yakking on their cell phones (naturally I could hear BOTH sides of the conversation), and a couple out-of-control toddlers running around, knocking things over and pulling things down. Loud. Chaotic. Encroaching. Torturous. I thought my head might split open. All I could do was sit there with my eyes squeezed shut, wringing my hands and envisioning the strange boiler-bladder I invented in my head, into which I funnel all stress and anxiety. It didn't help much. Especially overhearing one of the ladies "sharing the news" with one of her girlfriends who was squealing and laughing on the other end of the line.

Somehow, I made it through an hour of that. I ALMOST went to the window to reschedule, but never did. Mom showed up just as the nurse called me back for vitals. She was thrilled to see me, even under such awful circumstances, and she agreed to wait while I saw the doctor alone.

Weight was 121 pounds. (That's a difference of 16 pounds (or "libs," as Squeak pronounced the abbreviation at Pirate's Cove Mini-Golf in Hot Springs (because Pirate Blackbeard was 6'4" and weighed 250 lbs ("libs") according to the informational plaque on Hole 14))). Blood pressure was 100/71.

Had to go back through memory and recall all five kids' birthdates, birth weights, methods of delivery, and places of birth. I could only guess on the weights.

Due date is September 25th, unless the ultrasound reveals differently.

Dr. R***** was well-paced, thorough, acutely receptive to what I told him. He was on-board right away with my desire for a homebirth and seemed bewildered when I said it was "up to him" whether or not I'd go forward with it (I went on to explain the potential complications of my Depression and thyroid disease).

He performed a doppler. Took him a minute to find the baby's heartbeat, but find it he did. I almost said something witty about that confirming I am indeed pregnant, but the coy remark didn't make it to my throat. I was too mystified to have heard this little one's "pana."

And, too, I realized how little I've bonded with this child because I've been so buried in my own misery. Just like what happened with Bunny. All the more reason to claw my way out of this hole -- so that distant relationship doesn't happen again.

I'll see Dr. R***** again in two weeks.

Went for labs. A whopping $100 per vial of blood (if you break it down that way, and the phlebotomist took SIX). But, my thyroid panel was included, and that's most important. I may have the results as early as Monday...

...when I'll be going in for the ultrasound. Miner won't be here for that, but maybe I'll get a printout or something to send to him. And I'll have to remember before it's too late: "Don't reveal the gender, please."

Wednesday is my psych appointment. GAWD, I can't wait for that. She'll review my TSH thyroid results, and she'll prescribe hormone replacement pills and an antidepressant for my Depression and Anxiety. I'm HOPING she'll be able to prescribe a mild sedative I could take on an as-needed basis to get me through until the SSRI's kick in, which could be anywhere from two to four weeks, assuming I'm not dead by then. (joking)

As soon as I have my new scripts, I'm high-tailing it to see the midwife, if she'll still have me.

So after all that medical voodoo today, the account is about $$$ emptier (could've choked up a lung writing out those checks, including the prescription for "bigger-better" prenates). I take solace in the fact that's $$$ paid toward the total cost of labor and delivery, which we're figuring to be about $3000 total.

And now I'm in the little full-sized bed in my old bedroom, in the soft darkness and silence. Mom is here to help take care of me. Stepdad is here to make delicious soups. And I'm far, far from home so I won't be a burden or thorn to anyone, and they won't be a burden or thorn to me.

Hiding: Day 47 -- (Graphic) Mal-Ideations

Woke up crying this morning. Sleeping off and on. Bad headache. No appetite again. And trying not to think about him. He's a sore foot I want to gnaw off.

And now I don't want to see the OB. I don't want to worry about appearing healthy or appearing sick. Or how I appear, because how I appear is not an accurate reflection of anything. This illness is a bag of mixed nuts.

"What's the problem?"

I don't even know where to begin.

Try, "Everything's my fault, and nothing's my fault. I want to salvage everything in my life, and I want to destroy it. It means everything and nothing at all."

Today, I notice I've begun to detach myself from other human beings. I don't feel in sync with anything. I don't feel part of the family -- or any family. I don't feel married, in an arrangement of any kind.

It's like I was a piece if a complete puzzle, but I'm not a piece of anything anymore, but maybe instead, that little, useless ball of lint under the couch the wasn't created for any purpose, but rather, formed from various wastes drifting about that eventually clung together to make "me."

What happens to useless lint?

Last night, I fell asleep thinking about what it would be like to run the van off of the road at top speed. I wondered if the airbag would deploy, if I'd think to turn it off first, if it would burst on impact.

I wondered if it would be bloody, if I would be decapitated or clipped in half. Would I be crushed to the flatness of a couple inches. Would I be recognizable.

I've thought of starving myself, slitting my wrists in the tub, in a lake, in the sand on a beach. Of stepping in front of a mack truck. Of overdosing on NyQuil (stupid idea, but of all the things I've thought of, over-sedating is the most attractive).

I read that when depressed people think of suicide, they mainly think about the aspect of it that will bring an end to the pain. For me, I think of self-inflicted justice. An equalization, as death is to all. I think about peace and rest, comfortable nothingness.

Coincidentally, Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'" has been the most recent earworm, going on 48 hours now. But he's got it right, even if he may have meant something entirely different:

"...Gonna free fall, out into nothin',
Gonna leave this world for a while..."


Yes, I want to leave this world for a while. Not suspended in time, but moving through timeless, spaceless air -- feeling the wind blow by me, going nowhere. A complete void of context.

Death is not a void of context. I like to ignore the truth and pretend it is, but I know better.  The blasphemy of it is that when I am shriveled up in pain, a large part of me doesn't care about the truth.

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I wish you would decide to disappear into another life, maybe go back to Washington or Korea or the Philippines. I wish you would find a new context, forget me, and never say my name again.

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Don't know how much NyQuil I've had. But I just took some melatonin. Anything to calm my anxiety. No alternatives but to lay awake for a while.

June 2, 2010

Hiding: Day 46 -- Torment

Tried to stick it out as long as I could without pharmaceuticals, but reached the breaking point. Weighed the risks. It's a no-brainer. The family/marriage/and-or-I will not survive without it. Appointment is made.

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I really just want to be medicated out of my mind. I wish I could be euthanized, actually. This wad of feeling -- rational or irrational or f***-whatever -- causes excruciating pain, like a cancerous tumor, and I wish I could scrape it out with a scalpel.

I want to be left alone to suffer. I don't want anyone looking at me or observing me or evaluating me or judging me. I don't want to lie here while everyone condemns me for my demons. I want to be alone so they can torment me and I can react to them without someone else watching me writhe, pointing out all the ways I'm affecting THEM and how I'm making THEM feel, how miserable I'm making THEIR lives.

That's the hardest thing to bear. And the greatest impossibility is for me to get away from it.

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It's a countdown until my OB appointment. He wants to go with me. I'm less than pleased with the idea. We are not a happy couple going to our first well-baby appointment with dewy eyes and excitement. I'd exclude him so I can go about this in a cold, clinical way, alone. That would be better than trying to go about it like normal people yet have it end up cold and clinical anyway. That would count as a failure for two. Alone, it's simply an objective.

But it wouldn't be fair to him to leave him out, or to ask he not go. He'd allow me to go alone.

Hell, he might not even want to go. Wouldn't that be a bitter twist.

An entire week until my appointment with the neuropsychiatric nurse practitioner. That's like having an appointment with God. Not really, but it feels like I'm going to see a divine healer. That's the appointment I'm REALLY looking forward to.

So I will languish in bed for another 44.75 hours until I go to see the OB. And another 7 days and 18 hours until I see the head shrinker. I intend to spend every hour of it in bed, if I can.

What do I do with the time? Alternate between fits of crying, heavy naps induced by 2 T of NyQuil, passive sessions playing cards on the iPhone (which is the only time I'm relatively calm), and an occasional hot bath.

Nothing to eat. I have no appetite anyway, but I had chicken strips from Papa John's yesterday and pizza and ice cream today. That very well may be all I eat today.

If I could have anything, it would be soup. Soup, soup, soup. Potato soup, chicken noodle, vegetable beef, won ton min, udon. Hot liquid to fill me up and calm me down. That's what I'd have.

And I have to figure out how the kids will eat next week. I won't be cooking. I should ask them.

-----

...and this is how Dad must've felt. The last time I saw him, I walked into the house, and he called us to the back bedroom. I found him sitting in nothing but a tie-back hospital gown, watching TV from the edge of a bare mattress on the floor. He'd obviously been there for days -- weeks, maybe, as I've now discovered firsthand how that is not only possible, but likely.

Now that I think about it, his eyesight had probably gotten so bad by then, he HAD to have the TV so near to him so he could see what was on it.

I think he'd been sitting there for so long, because it took an enormous effort for him to get up to walk into the next bedroom. I don't even remember why he got up now, but I recorded those few moments on video. I don't know why I was recording that day, but it was the last recording ever made of him.

At one point, and I only noticed this going back and seeing the video again years later, it seemed he was trying to hide behind the doorway, and then putting silly things up to the camera, maybe to draw our attention to anything but himself. He was embarrassed. I didn't know it at the time. I know that now.

Laying here in bed yet another day, it suddenly struck me -- I'm in my same pajamas, hidden away under the covers, surrounded by chaos and clutter, isolated from everyone else in the family, all at once wounded, furious, agonized, despondent, humiliated, ashamed, desperate, and yet utterly hopeless, waiting and wishing an end would come, maybe wash me away in my sleep.

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I feel I should seize the moment to mention Cleo (feline). She has been my nurse for the past two months. She hasn't left my side, day and night. As a matter of fact, she curls up at the top of my head, on my pillow, like a 20-pound fur hat.

When I'm sleeping, she sleeps, too, and is as still as a stuffed animal. When I wake up, she feels me stir, and she comes close to my face to inspect me.

Sometimes, after I've been sitting here in silence and I bellow out to tell the kids to quiet down, she rushes to me as if to quiet me.

Her presence is calming and reassuring. She asks nothing of me, makes no demands. She is perfectly self-sufficient.

And even if she is vigilant and nurturing, she is never coddling or suffocating or needy. She keeps the distance she, too, requires, so we can both rest in our own spaces.

I pity Piko, even if he does irritate me to no end. He wants so badly to take care of me the way Cleo does, but his constant chewing on his hide drives me to utter distraction. I cannot tolerate it. So he's banished from the bedroom until I am well.

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It makes my head spin how his steps --whether they're meant to inflict pain or not, whether they're in some way immoral or not -- bring about such agony and turmoil for me.

The mere fact he says things like, "You need anything?", "You know I love you, right?", "I never want you to hurt; I never want to do anything to hurt you"...those things seem like mockery to me. I honestly, genuinely feel down to my very core that he's mocking me, patronizing me, placating me, throwing me a bone so I'll sit down and shut up.

I feel totally powerless. I can say nothing against him. I can insinuate he's responsible for nothing.

And if I'm wrong, he's right about everything, and I'm sick and selfish and pretending to be a victim.

No wonder there is so much hatred in my heart right now. Someone is responsible. Someone must be hated.

-----

And it's about time again to medicate myself to oblivion. At least in the only mild, generic way I have available.

I don't like the way NyQuil makes my lungs feel heavy and makes it hard to breathe. But the guarantee of sleep is worth it.

-----

My brain is seriously misfiring. Or strange things are going on, a kind of upward pressure that's forcing up long lost, painful memories, like when Aunty and Uncle drove all the way from Dallas to "repossess" the bug and Dad's ukulele on "moral grounds" because I left Ex. Retribution. Punishment. Because they felt entitled to mete it out.

And yet, years later, Aunty would tip morality on a sliding scale for another particular situation of which I was a casualty -- but all's fair in love and war, right?

I remember Uncle calling Miner a "bum" to his face and ordering him off of his property, and I pushed the bug alone and pregnant out of his yard.

And I remember again, years later, after Dad died and we were all gathered in his house. I'd just given premature birth to Bunny a week earlier (and probably less than that) and Aunty and F****** took to slapping each other in the hallway, and I couldn't stand the desecration or the stress, and I stepped between them, still weak and bleeding from labor.

And later, in the kitchen, Uncle told me he loved me, and he shook Miner's hand, establishing redemption and peace. And forgiveness.

Love should be linear, growing or fading through time according to the purifications of the season. Forgiveness should function the same way.

But my head won't allow redemption to follow anything. The past is a flat line stretching back through memory, and every painful moment swells up like a raw, throbbing welt yanking me back to relive the trauma and reclaim the guilt and the punishment.

They are inexhaustible. When one memory has lashed me from head to toe, another comes and takes its place. And there are so, so many.

May 30, 2010

Hiding: Day 43 -- Resolved

The trip to Arkansas was wonderful. But less than 24 hours later, I'm right back where I started -- debilitated and immobile, curled up in bed with the door shut and locked.

I have a feeling I'm going to hurt again. I don't care. I can't afford to really care about anything. After the trip and his ignorant "blow-up" (Yes, I wrote "blow-up," because that's exactly what it was) and being told AGAIN how miserable he is, my self-confidence and sense of self-worth is shot -- as if it were healthy to begin with.

I just want to go to the doctor, go to the doctor, go to the doctor. PLEASE take me.

I've expressed the urgency over and over again, but for whatever reason --financial or otherwise -- I'm just not being taken seriously.

I'm making the appointment Tuesday, with or without support. I can't stand another day.

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So that's it. I've decided. I'm going to do whatever it is I have to do to get meds.  And I'm going to be straight-forward about the homebirth.

And I'm going to see the doctor as soon as he'll see me, with or without someone going with me. This is ridiculous. I know better. I should've done this a long time ago instead of having waited for someone else to decide it was the "right time" or that our circumstances were optimal for it.

I'm insulted it hasn't been insisted upon that I go NOW. My health is apparently not as important as whatever else it is that has prevented me from going.

I'm not waiting anymore.

May 22, 2010

Hiding: Day 37

Since the "episode," I've been feeling utterly drained -- physically and psychologically. I slept almost all day today, and I've been fighting migraines since yesterday, too.

The stress is terrific. I can tolerate nothing. That's why sleep has been the only thing to do, to keep stimulation at a minimum. Self-prescribed bed rest.

I have felt a little more alert today. The morning was a blur on into the afternoon, but I was cognitive in the late afternoon until I slept again. Not in any kind of shape to DO anything, but at least hold up my end of a brief conversation.

And Rocky made me laugh. I don't remember what it was he said, but it was a relief to laugh.

When I woke up this evening, though, I had another fit of rage, because Priss was making herself a bowl of cereal for dinner. I yelled at Bunny and Moe, too, but don't remember why.

What disgusts me is that Priss is the one who came in here to hug me after I'd calmed down. Not to apologize, but because she pitied me and thought a hug might make me feel better. No one hates herself more than I hate myself.

May 20, 2010

Hiding: Day 35 (severe reactive episode)

I don't want anyone to feel sorry for me or try to "talk me down" or describe to me how dire the situation is or try to illustrate the reality for me or threaten to call someone or tell me how much I have to live for or offer anything I need. I don't want to hear how much they need me or how selfish it would be to hurt myself.

I'm aware, I know, and these thoughts and feelings and truths do have weight and they're added burden. Like even bad publicity is good publicity. It's momentum. Even good touch is bad touch because it's contact and stimulation, or instigation to action or impact. Yes, impact. And I can't take any more impact.

What would be all right is neutral observation. Knowing I'm not alone, but I can be left alone to suffer the pain until either it heals itself or I respond to it.

Numb now. After writing some. But still recalling how he told me something I already know, that he's unhappy and can't take me.

Of course you can't. I can't take me. But I'm beyond rehabilitation. Or renovation or reprogramming or repair. You didn't have to tell me the awful truths I already know, that I'm as despicable to you as I am to me. You didn't have to confirm that the only person who can tolerate me, can't really.

Now, the last reason to try to weave into society is gone. At least alone, I'm not faced with imposing on anyone in any way, ever. I can never be hurt by the knowledge I'm hurting anyone else.

I'm perfectly capable of living without expectation. I can make no demands. I can let live.

At this moment, I wish I'd never been born. I disagree: sometimes, it's better to have never lived than to have lived and loved, and been loved.

-----

If I were in the hospital, then there would be nothing to do but be sick and wait to heal. That sounds like the most appealing situation for me. And if Miner hadn't brought up the subject of money or further "complications," I would've already gone to the ER and checked myself in. I would've already put myself in the hands of professionals so they could manage my mental and physical health since I can't do it myself.

It's like living each hour with an excruciating toothache. And no dental insurance. Or no dentist trained to do anything about it.

You know Dad used to pull his own teeth.

Jealousy and "Julie & Julia"

As if I needed anything else to feel awful about, after trouble with Rocky, fighting with Miner, and being the meanest pregnant lady in the world.

I watched Julie & Julia -- two of my favorite actresses: Meryl Streep and Amy Adams. A movie about cooking.

And blogging and writing and getting published.

And I hated it. From beginning to end, I just burned with a bitter mixture of envy and self-loathing, because I have what it takes to do the same, and I don't.

GAWD.

If ever there were a time to write a book about P***** and the o*****, NOW is the time. Pregnant, the D***** H*****, time and time and time on my hands. The iron is hot, but I'm not.

And I hate myself for it, through and through. And I hate that I hate all the other aspiring writers who are making it right now, because I want what they're getting, what they've worked hard for and deserve. What I haven't worked for and don't deserve.

How long would it take me? If I started again right now? How long would it be before the book was done? Three chapters, even, to send in? Could I do it?

May 19, 2010

The Wayward Son

Feels like I'm engorged on rage, bitterness, sadness, anxiety, frustration and pain. Almost like I never quit smoking, never stopped putting toxins inside my body. These feelings are just as damaging. I feel like the baby must be suffocating in my turmoil.

A blow-up with Rocky over the 12:00 computer time limit left me in tears, unable to contain myself or tolerate any more of it. I count it a miracle he happened to come to tell me goodnight just then. Of course he was moved, and surprised and ashamed to see the impact of his actions, but instead of inspiring some self-evaluation of his choices, he internalized and began a discussion of how hopeless he feels.

I told him I can't take any more. He'll have to decide whether he wants to abide as a member of this family or not, but I won't fight him anymore.  It breaks my heart to think I must give up after all these years of trying, but I just don't have the personal resources anymore to strive against him.

The last alternative I have other than sending him to his dad's is counseling. I'll be calling first thing in the morning, and Heaven help him, because that's all I've got left.

And if it does come to letting him go, I'll be bitter about it. It doesn't seem fair that I would have raised him through the most trying periods of his growth to have him share the joy and strength of his maturity with his dad. Just doesn't seem fair or right.

But God will put him where he needs to be, if only I were calm and humbled enough to pray and ask Him to do that. I'm so covered in bitterness and unforgiveness right now, I doubt He'd hear my prayers.

May 17, 2010

"Mommie Dearest"

I know I'm especially crazy tonight. It began when I told Rocky he had one hour left on the computer (this was at 11:30 PM) and he immediately copped an attitude. Escalated from there.

And when the girls were still getting up for every excuse in the book at the same hour.

So I unplugged Rocky's Internet. He stayed up, playing the piano, so I cut his power. But he stayed up anyway, so I made them ALL get up and clean the house completely. It reminded me of the axe scene in Mommie Dearest. And the whole time, though I knew I had rational reasons for instituting such a consequence, I couldn't stand on a single one of them because my head felt too fragmented.

So we cleaned until after 2, and the kids -- as I suspected -- got to where they were begging to go to sleep. And before I dismissed them to do so, I reiterated WHY we'd been up cleaning in the middle of the night, and we'd do it again if we ever face the same problem again.

So now they're ALL crashed, but I'm still awake with some obscure 70s earworm boring through my brain and thinking -- inexplicably -- about the Jonestown suicide recordings, and Jim Jones's perverse, unsettling, drug-dragging lisp.  "Muthderth, muthderth, thon't do thith. Go, but go with thignity. Thon't do thith."

And I've been thinking of my friends who miss me, wondering if they truly DO understand I'm not healthy right now. If they respect that fact, or if they're secretly judging me amongst themselves for being flaky and nuts rather than legitimately, respectably unstable.

What an oxymoron, that I am so very disordered, yet in a certain slant of light, clarity is razor sharp. It's viewing a perfectly clear reflection in the mirror, of a perfectly frightening harpy.

May 12, 2010

"Garboesque Machinations"

I've lost count how many days I've been inside, but it's over a month, I think. Still not long enough.

I managed to do the laundry, cook, keep the kitchen clean, and take the family on a field trip while Miner was home. Now that he's gone again, I want to settle back into this seat in the bed and grow here.

It's 4:53 AM. I'm exhausted, sleepy, but I can't get comfortable to save my life. Still got stupid Hannah Montana earworms burrowing in my brain, and plenty of self-critical demons yakking in my head, too.  Added to them is my sister's voice chastising me for my "Garboesque machinations."

I told her I'm sorry. I don't have it in me. Can't medicate or communicate. But I'm alive.

Who knows if that will suffice.

Did a paper cutting today that was supposed to function as an "I'm alive but not participating" message. I don't think anyone "got it." I'm sorry for that, but I won't clarify. Can't. That's the reason for the visual. I'm hoarding my voice because -- maybe -- I'm afraid it will run out. Or maybe afraid it won't sound right, and then I'll know for sure something else is living in my mind besides me.

May 3, 2010

Hiding: Day 18

The longer I stay tucked away, the safer I feel, and the more reluctant I am to come out. There have been several social "run-ins" (which--to everyone else's standards--aren't really "run-ins" at all, but simply run-of-the-mill social situations that require not much more than normal communication) that have strained me to my limits, but rather than put forth the effort to meet others halfway, I simply withdraw, fail to respond, and refuse to concern myself with anything beyond my self-erected barrier.

I realize this is avoidant and unhealthy. I recognize selfishness may play a large part in this. I know I may be hurting people, that I may lose friends on account of my own turmoil, but I reason...I may just not be strong enough to maintain. I simply may not possess the personal resources.

Bottom line: I cannot be active. I cannot contribute. I can observe the walls of my little world and slip notes about it under the door, but beyond that...I cannot participate.

Can I live life this way? For how long?

April 26, 2010

Got out, sort of.

Showered and got out of the house insofar as to drive Priss & Rocky to Walmart so they could run in for a couple things, but I still feel gross and mutated.

It's like after surgery or being in labor or being really, really sick, when you hurt so bad you don't want to move. That's what it's like, and I don't want to move. I just want to sit in the soft, quiet, secluded bed until something relieves me.

April 25, 2010

Hiding: Day 10

Tonight, it was Elizabeth Taylor and Sonja Henie. And I researched the effects of drinking pickle juice, because I've had the overwhelming craving to do just that.

Otherwise, I spent 90% of my waking hours sitting in this one spot in bed, alternating between watching movies, online research, and sleeping.  Agonizing.   But what's more agonizing is the fact that's exactly what I feel like doing -- nothing more, nothing less.

Mom tried to call again tonight, but I didn't pick up.  I hate that for her.  I hope it's not as heartbreaking to her as I think it is.  It's not on account of anything negative about her at all.  I just can't communicate right now.  With anyone.  Just can't do it.  And I'm sorry.

April 24, 2010

Whole Lotta Nothing

Three old classic movies in a row -- Jayne Mansfield, Barbara Stanwyk, Jean Harlow, and Lauren Young. Before that, obsessive research on Social Anxiety Disorder. Before that, the crimes of Rodney Alcala.

In summary, a full day of nothing. I say nothing, but a full day of occupying my brain and then dreaming of that cabin in the hills.... Miner would build it, and it would be beautiful.

Over the Horizon

Must resist the temptation to write about specifics because there are all sorts of lawsuits pending and drooling journalists and grieving families.  Wouldn't want to do anything to compromise things that need to unfold in a certain, controlled way.

But Miner's just breaking up out there.  He had to box up his buddy's personal effects this morning so they could be returned to the family.  I can't imagine cleaning out a friend's locker that way.

And a little at a time, details coming out, personal stories here and there.  Stories of people so panicked, they ran even into places where there was no where to run.  Like people running out into the open air seventy floors high in the sky on 9-11.  Desperation eclipsing reason...Just run...run...run...run until the ground runs out.

Stories, glimpses into people's heart-of-hearts, and what lies there -- heroism or cowardice.  Some kept their minds and fought the primal sense to flee until everyone was out of harm's way.  Others fought to break away no matter who was clawing for safety...Every man for himself.

Some of them won't ever go back again.  They'll fade quietly into new careers.  Probably won't fly or fish anymore.  They might move away from this place altogether and try to build new lives and forget.

Miner's not going anywhere.  He'll grind forward with routine as he has year after year, checking off the risks just like he checks off the days on the calendar, just part of the job.  He'll take his smoke break outside and peer across the blue miles there.  There used to be a speck there on the horizon. There was activity and communication and purpose.  Now, the sky meets the waves at those exact coordinates, and there is nothing but a sad, silent surface.

Popped Seams in My Skin

This morning, I woke up remembering the senses of my dreams. I dreamt I had princess seams in my skin that extended from the tops of my breasts to the underside of my belly. The seams had torn, so the muscle and tissue beneath was exposed. I thought, "Wow, I need to either get that fixed or sew up the seams myself."

And I dreamt Miner went out of his way to stay over at Stripper's house where other females -- including SuccessfulModel -- were staying, too. I left with the intention of running so far away he'd never find me.

---

Didn't get up until 11:30-ish.  Messing around in my iPhone apps last night, and found Ambiance Lite.  I put the "Long Thunderstorm" sound file on perpetual loop, and apparently, the white noise worked.  Almost hypnotic.

Kids came into the bedroom this morning and were really confused that they heard rain and thunder, but when they looked out of the window through the blinds, they saw no rain.

Hiding: Day 9

Still withdrawn. On a positive note, I found a Social Anxiety support group online, and I've discovered many of my symptoms or "quirks" all go with the territory of "SA." Like avoiding public, burning bridges, letting down friends because you can't offer as much as they can.

Conversely, I also discovered a type of reclusion that has nothing to do with anxiety but everything to do with philosophy, spirituality, and/or nature. Personally, I think a lot of them are hyper-elitist freaks who are so full of their own superiority they don't feel the rest of society deserves the privilege of their presence. Or they hate their fellow humans so much, they'd prefer the company of trees instead.

I acknowledge my anxious motivations, and I don't necessarily apologize for them. On the other hand, I also admit I idealize the company of trees, too, but not because I disrespect people. Honestly, I think it's just because I'd rather walk alone where I will.

And I can't believe how fortunate I am to have married a man who appreciates the same.

April 19, 2010

Hiding: Day 4

Today marks the 4th day of self-imposed isolation, and yet, it feels like I've only just now withdrawn. I require much, much more time. I need more time to go through whatever it is I need to go through.

I haven't accepted any emails, texts, or phone calls except Miner's and to answer Sister's inquiry about her taxes. Not a blip all weekend.

I'm jealous of the people I read about who have the freedom to live in isolation. I wonder why I can't. Moving miles away from civilization sounds all the more appealing every year.

April 11, 2010

Homeschooling Travel Inspiration: Houston Museum District

Family studying:
Ancient Egypt.
Mom wonders:
"What local venues might provide some fun reinforcement?"
Research leads to:
Houston Museum of Natural Science
(FREE on Tuesdays after 2PM!)
which leads to:
Houston Museum District
(tons of FREE educational venues!)
which leads to:
an inspired planning frenzy!
The result:
3 days
2 nights
1 adult
5 kids
10 museums
4 galleries
2 landmarks
4 recreational sites
3 purchased meals
-----------
$120
(excluding gas & accommodations)

Click image to view tentative itinerary.



The itinerary is air-tight.  I doubt we'll be able to see everything on the agenda, but it'll be a lot of fun giving it a shot.

I could honestly spend hours planning trips, itineraries, and cost analyses.  Problem solving...cutting, pasting, rearranging in order to find the most efficient solution.  I love reading reviews, analyzing maps and transportation routes.  I love researching venue hours and admissions, reading histories and descriptions.

And the final reward comes when we arrive, and all that planning and research and preparation pays off, and we all get to see first-hand the details we've been exposed to through brochures and online.  SO much fun.


And hotels are fun.  Housekeeping, swimming pools, little soaps wrapped in shiny paper, crisp and cold sheets...waking up early, early in the morning to be first in line for the continental breakfast.

-----

If this Houston trip is successful, I'll be planning many more.  Other destinations I'm currently researching...
  • Louisiana State University campus (museums, galleries, landmarks)
  • Baton Rouge State Capitol and vicinity (State Capitol, museums, galleries)
  • Baton Rouge College Hills area (museums, botanical gardens)
  • Arkansas Crater of Diamonds (prospecting, campgrounds)

April 10, 2010

Camping: Disaster, Devastation & Delight

Camping was just what I needed. I could imagine no better way to spend a birthday week than with my family far from civilization. (Though I do exaggerate just a bit. The state park is not exactly "far from civilization." One is not "far from civilization" if she has easy access to a toilet, a hot shower, a washer and dryer, a soda machine, and free park-wide WiFi.)

I might be able to honestly declare the camping trip "perfect" if it weren't for the thunderstorm that barreled in on us our last night there.  The final two photos taken (of "taco soup at sunset" and the wonderfully bright campfire) give no indication anything threatening is approaching.  The wind kicked up a bit, and the certain fragrance of rain was in the air.  But we had no idea we were in for it.

At dusk on Wednesday, I trekked to the Comfort Station to wash a small load of clothes. I patiently knitted while waiting for the clothes to dry.  That's when I overheard a park ranger talking to a couple just outside.  "You better tie down your tents and take shelter here for a while.  The storm is gonna be pretty bad, but it won't last long."

Fifteen minutes later, my clothes were dry, so I stepped outside right into a sudden downpour.  (Yes, I wasted a dollar on that stinkin' dryer.)  By the time I made it to the trail leading back to our camp, lightening was breaking apart across the sky.  I took two steps down the trail and ran right into the rest of the family rushing back toward the van.

We piled inside the vehicle, soaked and shivering (with some of the younger ones in frightful tears).  It took a few moments to calm everyone.  Then, someone asked, "Where's the dog?"

Crap! 

In his rush to get the kids to safety, Miner left the dog zipped up in the tent, alone.  "I'll get him," he growled, then he disappeared down the trail, into the dark and deluge.  Two minutes later, he deposited a wet and grateful pooch into the back of the van with everyone else.

"He might have been better off in the tent, you know," Miner said.  "He was huddled in a corner, dry as a bone."

And there in the van we stayed.  After our dinner of Pringles, Fritos, honey roasted peanuts, and peanut butter & honey sandwiches, we slept, curled or contorted into whatever position of near-comfort we could manage.

In the morning, Miner and I returned to the campsite to find a disaster.  The kitchen shelter (pictured behind the picnic table) had collapsed and broken off halfway down the legs.  All the clothes from the line were strewn and scattered from one end of the clearing to the other.  Our main blue tent flagged in the wind, blown open and flooded in an inch of water.  The walls had torn, rendering the tent useless. All our belongings inside -- including the camcorder, kids' journals, plush toys, and all the sleeping bags -- were saturated.

With the girls still sleeping in the van, Miner, Rocky and I set about recovery.  The unpleasant task was made even more unpleasant by the cutting wind still scraping in from the lake.  The wind-chill must've been at least forty degrees.  It robbed me of a lot of my motivation and most of my fine motor skills. 

There really wasn't much we could do but throw all the wet clothes and bedding in large trash bags.  Everything else, we hauled back to the vehicles and loaded up as-is to sort through and repair when we got home.  The kitchen shelter and main tent went right to the trash bin.

Eventually, I had to take a break to sit in the van and let my fingers thaw so they'd work again.  My cell phone alerted me to text message from Mom:  "Chicken & dumplin's for lunch. Call me when you get into town. Love you!"

I could've cried!  The thought of hot, soupy chicken & dumplin's just waiting for us back at Mom's house!  After all the trauma we'd endured!  Comfort food at its very best!

That's all I needed to boost my morale.  I told everyone the good news, and we were out of the woods and on our way in half an hour.  And let me tell you...those were the BEST chicken & dumplin's my stepdad has ever, ever made!

Back at home today and reflecting over the past week, I realized I lost my temper only once the whole trip.  Depending on who you ask, that one time might have been the equivalent of several lesser losses of temper throughout the week, but still, I think I'd rather blow up once and get it all over with for a while than chronically bubble and steam.

I'm refreshed, calmed, rejuvenated, readied for whatever comes next.

April 3, 2010

Camping: A Departing Thought

Over our years of camping, I've discovered something essential about the experience. The perceived stress of "roughing it" melts away along with our expectations of convenience, which we've grown accustomed to, to the point of desensitization.  The self-maintenance of life carries with it a loud static that we're eventually deafened to, like the sound of a train or plane to people who have long lived beside a train track or airport.  We forget what silence sounds like.

When the static and the sounds and the expectations are suddenly stripped away (or dropped), the natural, default silence of the earth falls and settles around us.  The world slows to the lazy trickle of a stream.  We're able to let down our eyelids, open our ears and our lungs, and observe and feel our environment breathe around us -- slow, natural, peaceful breaths.  Instead of commanding our surroundings in the name of progress and productivity, we become passengers -- or better, companions to the natural flow of time.

For a while, I am allowed to feel quite small and nurtured instead of feeling like I'm constantly trudging for or toward something.  Under such a profound protection, what is it to sweat a little? to get some dirt under my fingernails? to wear the same t-shirt another day?  A person might not consider herself when beholding the stars in God's hands.

So I'm off to embrace a closed-mouth world for a while, leaving the noise behind.

----

Itinerary: 
  • Saturday -- cousin's birthday party
  • Sunday -- Easter, camping
  • Monday - Thursday -- camping
  • Thursday/Friday -- depart

Weather:  "Mostly sunny," but a couple mentions of t-storms here and there throughout the week. Then the overnight temperature is supposed to drop into the low 50s and upper 40s. Despite advice otherwise, I'm packing the thermals.

Knitting:  Purchased a large skein of 100% virgin wool and two small skeins of soft, fuzzy bamboo yarn.  Goal is to complete one baby soaker and perhaps begin a light summer shrug for me (really cool customizable shrug pattern generator here).

Camping Wish List:
  • find some really great petrified wood
  • catch a fish
  • keep my daily camping journal
  • renew peace
  • take a midday nap in the sunshine
  • weave something from plant fibers
  • press a lovely plant
  • write a forest poem

March 26, 2010

Unbearable

Everyone has her threshold for pain.  I like to think I don't have one, that I can endure anything life puts me through.  Sometimes, I even trick myself into believing it.  I look back and see that I endured spinal surgery and five unmedicated labors & deliveries.  I endured countless emotional and psychological traumas over the years, and yet, I'm not dependent, invalid, or in jail.  Surviving strengthens a person, but it can also skew her perspective of her own mortality.  That's dangerous.  Kind of like the risks associated with a "no-pain disorder," only in the head.  Or, if you prefer an adage or admonishment, "Pride goeth before the fall."

All of this "I-can-endure-anything" is a bunch of malarkey.  Smoke and mirrors executed by an acute (and disproportionate) sense of responsibility and capability.  "I endure, because I have to, so I will."  Mind over matter.

Dad, I'm so, so sorry, but there are times when I just CAN'T suck it up.  When I get the wind knocked out of me, I can't breathe.  I've got to stop for a minute and recover.  I can't keep going.  I don't WANT to keep going.  I just want some relief.

Sparring.  Being pushed to the absolute limit of my endurance, for the match.
And childbirth.  Pushing myself to the end of myself, for the preservation of purity.

Ironic that it's easier for me to endure the body's greatest natural transformation, yet the challenges of the affected mind bring me to my knees, begging for mercy.


I can't endure.  I can't, I can't, I can't.

Does anyone know what it's like to be unable to sit in your own skeleton, in your own skin, and simply tolerate existing?  Can you imagine a world with no silence?  Can you imagine that little red devil sitting on your shoulder, yapping in your ear hour after hour about all the crappy things you've done, all the crappy things you're doing, and all the crappy things you will do in the future, no matter how hard you strive in the opposite direction?

It's worse than being chained to your fate.  Hypothetically speaking, Fate would be certain, unalterable, and real.  In this case, "Fate" is a concept that has absolutely no basis in reality at all.  As a matter of fact, it's a sick fantasy of a person's most grotesque failures come to pass, complete with the self-abuse, self-punishment, and self-loathing that goes along with it.

whatever.

But I know the reason for all this nonsense is because...in my body's realignment to support this little child inside, various systems are burdened and overburdened, and my poor brain can't hit her stride.  Perfectly good explanation.  I'm aware I'm for the majority irrational.  I'm acutely aware the voices are phantoms, and the real behaviors that result are inappropriate and extreme.  No one is bad.  No one is hopeless.  No one hates me or should hate me.

But knowing does not take the pain away.  Knowing does not make it a bit easier.  Knowing and experience and responsibility can not give me what I need to get through this.

March 21, 2010

Drawing disasters threaten to drive artist to quit.

So I've got a handful of portrait commissions.  It's been over a year since I did a portrait, and my supplies needed updating, so I took care of that; grabbed some smooth Bristol paper, a new kneading eraser, and another can of fixative.

I get home.  I'm inspired, motivated, optimistic.  I prepare my photo references and printouts.  I go to layer my work on the light box, and whaddyaknow -- the smooth Bristol paper is so thick, I can barely see through it to block the main shapes of my subject!  Obstacle #1.

I push through that and do the best I can.  It works out, so I merrily draw on, shading in the skin and shadows beginning on one side of the page and working my way to the other.  I work for three hours straight and get a full THIRD of the job done, and suddenly...SCCCCCRRRRAAAATCH!

A particle from who-knows-where leapt onto my page and under the chamois and hooked a big gouge in the middle of my subject's right cheek!  I knew what happened as soon as I felt the drag, and at that precise moment, too, I knew there was nothing I could do to correct it and my drawing was ruined.  Obstacle #2.

There are few things in the world so frustrating to an artist or writer than investing sheer effort, vision, time, creativity, and fine motor skills, just to have one small, sudden circumstance unravel it all in an instant!  I've had it happen to stories I've written, garments I've sewn, projects I've knitted, and on and on.  This wasn't the first drawing I've had to throw away and restart, but every time it happens, it feels like the very first time, and all the stomping and tears and expletives in the world are not enough to ease the agony.

So there's really nothing a person can do except take a deep breath and begin again.  So I began again.  I went through the whole process of layering my work on the light box, blocking the main shapes, and filling in the skin tone and shadows from one side to the other.  Slow, meticulous, precise work.

I finish toning the full face, and it's time to go back and blend.  I begin blending, and what should appear along the subject's right temple!  FINGERPRINTS!  Large, dark, unavoidably distracting fingerprints.  Obstacle #3.

I should know better.  The oils on the skin adhere to paper surfaces -- especially the smoother varieties -- and graphite and charcoal adhere to the oil.  If you blend pencil over oil, you get a very detailed, relief-like image of every fingerprint on the page.

I knew this.  I've always known this.  But why haven't I had this problem before???

Because this is the first time I've used the Bristol smooth paper, the first time I've chosen to blend with a chamois instead of my usual blending stubs, and the first time I recall doing portraiture while pregnant.  Maybe pregnancy affects my fingerprints in some strange way.

I did not cry.  I simply set my supplies aside and allowed Rocky to talk me down while I cleaned the kitchen with unprecedented fury.  He told me to walk away from it, go to bed, sleep in, and try again tomorrow.

It's a new day.  I'm going back to the craft store to get the paper I always use, and I'm going to try again.  I may even pick up a box of latex gloves just to be on the safe side.

And for the sake of my sanity, maybe I should estimate I'll have to start over twice today, and I should just prepare myself to handle it when it happens.

March 16, 2010

Punkin's Banana Bread

So 'ono!!! Even let it cool on the window sill.


Punkin's Banana Bread
Source: Waianae Baptist Church Cook Book
"My grandma had submitted this recipe to her church for the making of their cookbook and I've made this many of times and each time I make it I can't seem to get enough of it...It's my favorite...Good recipe and very easy to make..."

-- Punkin from Nanakuli (new homestead, series 7, Pikaiolena St.) now living in Lakewood, WA. Wen grad Pearl City High '95. Email: punkin96792[AT]aol[DOT]com.
Recipe, as published at Alohaworld.com.
Ingredients
1 c. sugar
1/2 c. butter (1 stick)
2 eggs
1 c. mashed bananas (about 3)
1 3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 c. black walnuts

Cooking Instructions
Pre-heat oven first to 350. Grease loaf pan (you can use the spray kine). Mix ingredients in order given. Bake for 1 hour. When done let cool and cut into 1/2 inch thick. Serves 12.

March 5, 2010

Mean Mothers & I'm Not One of Them

I picked up Mean Mothers (Peg Streep) because I was interested in reading one author's definition and exposition on what she views is a "mean mother." Naturally, I'm curious as to whether or not I might in some way fit the bill.

I am a temperamental woman and have had my bouts with Depression and dysfunction.  I'm known at times to have a sharp tongue and to withdraw, to turn a cold shoulder or mother with a heavy hand.

But even considering all my flaws, I in no way think I'm categorically a "mean mother." The mothers Streep describes in her book are jealous, dismissive, competitive, undermining, discouraging, insulting, and in every other way emotionally absent, oppressive, and/or abusive.  On the whole, they derive their satisfaction from seeing their daughters in pain, or failing.

If anything, Mean Mothers reassures me I am NOT a mean mother, that I do possess an abundance of those critical elements that define a mother as healthy and effective: love, emotional affection, physical affection, encouragement, respect, willingness to communicate, acceptance.

What's jarring, though, is the accounts given by the daughters interviewed for the book.  It seems more often than not, the mean mothers in question were entirely unaware they were awful.  The daughters spent most of their lives (literally, as most of the interviewees were between 50 and 60 years of age) feeling unloved, and by the time they offered their perspectives on their horrible childhoods, the damage had been done and the mothers had passed on.  Their respective repulsive histories of their family lives were written, never to be edited or improved.

There is such a terrible permanence in family dysfunction.  Not only can the pain never be taken back, but it carries on down the following generations, often morphing into deeper and more complex dysfunctions.  It seems the family grows more and more fragmented and wounded and detached.

I realize this is not always the case.  With every generation, there is an opportunity for learning, healing, and redemption.  Is it too naive, too sentimental to depend heavily on these hopes?  Would holding out and pressing forward for growth in love and understanding be too much a rejection of the harsh truths of the individual parental psyche and the dysfunctional collective of the family?  MUST one plow through the violence of emotions in order to find the peace and edification?

It's a good thing I don't intend to utilize Mean Mothers as a guide to personal betterment, or a manual of "what not to do."  Rather, I'm taking note of just how bad mothers can actually be, giving thanks for the upbringing I had, and rededicating to the labor of love I've got in front of me.

February 26, 2010

The Ideal Mother

A presentation by
L. 'Ailina Willis

Inspired by Ayelet Waldman's Bad Mother



 
  
  
  
  
  
  
  

February 20, 2010

Multiple Personalities Disordered

I'll tell you what's bewildering. The prospect of The Playdate.

The girls and I had an impromptu lunch date with a young mother from the homeschooling group today. We met by chance. We're probably a good 10+ years apart in age, but it was a good match, because we both have 7-year-old daughters.

It was fun. But I admit, a part of me needed to pat the ground beneath me every now and then to assure myself I was alive and awake and not trapped in some weird dream or perhaps reliving a day I'd forgotten in my early adulthood.

Sitting there chatting and munching on waffle fries, I suddenly had the impulse to ask questions I might've asked when I was pregnant with Kid #1, before I knew what being a parent was like. before I actually took on the responsibility of a baby and all I had to go on were speculations and information I got from books and other experienced moms. I longed to ask this young mother for advice. And that stunned me.

I don't consciously feel uneducated or uninitiated about parenting young children. I have memories of what it was like. Like riding a bike. (?)

But still. A very important aspect of my personality has forgotten myself in that role.

At risk of coming across as too self-congratulatory...my circle of confidantes and touchstones have been older moms who have long grown out of predominantly "discovery" parenting and have been enjoying "exploratory" parenting, "revision" parenting, and "hands-off guidance" parenting for kids who have one foot in adulthood. Topics of conversation have been college admissions and work permits and matters of adolescent maturation. Not baby care or early childhood enrichment or teething or...playdates.

For the first time since I was a teenager, I felt like a Poseur. A wanna-be. Someone who postures herself as seasoned and knowledgeable about a scene, but is clueless and useless for all practical purposes. Why? Because I've forgotten.

But forgetting is not gonna fly. I'm going to talk to more young moms and go on more playdates, because it will not only be relevant, but encompassing -- like a social Venn Diagram. And therein lies the conflict.

'Ailina is picking up a hat she shelved years ago, and she's scared to death it doesn't fit her anymore. But even if it doesn't -- even if it looks ridiculous or doesn't match with anything in her closet, or even if it gives her a headache sometimes because the band is too tight -- she's going to wear it, under the hat she already wears every day, or over it. Whichever won't get her arrested by the Loony Police.

So this adds yet another layer to this identity of mine I so struggle to define. Not that I need a square hole or round hole or whatever to fit in. What I need is orientation. I need self-awareness. I need a sense of proportion.

I don't foresee any danger in the unknown here. I know whatever doubts I may assume or whatever false steps I may take along the way, they're purely par for the course of experience. Old tricks and new tricks all rolled into one. It's okay. I'll be okay.

I'm just making a mental note of the psychological and social adjustments I'm going to have to make along this leg of the journey. I know it's not going to be easy. I know my questions will multiply and turn in on me. I know I'm going to have to beat back the adversaries of my own mind. I know I can do it.

I just really, really wonder what I'll look and feel like when the transition is made, what kind of person I'll be then. Who will I be next year?

February 14, 2010

The Refiner Family to increase by one Summer 2010

The news "officially" broke last night.  Of course we knew before now (one need only pause for a brief moment to put two and two together) but held off on making the announcement until all the immediate family members had been notified.

They were "notified" last night after dinner, and I got it on film.  Nothing as dramatic as some of the meltdowns I've seen on America's Funniest Home Videos, but the kids' reactions were humorous, if a bit predictable.

Mom & Dad:  "Well, kids...we're going to be adding a new family member."
Rocky:  "Before you even said anything, I already had one word in mind: 'Again?'"
Priss:  "Are we getting another pet?"
Bunny:  "Yay! That means we get to play dress-up with it, just like a doll, only real!...Oh, wait a minute. Does this mean we have to do more work?"
Moe:  "Are you joking with us?"
Priss:  (fingers in her mouth) "I'm not going to be the youngest anymore."
Moe:  "Are you sure you're not kidding?"

The initial shock has passed, and we're now moving into the earliest preparations.  Mainly, working on the family budget, getting major repairs done on the house.  There's a sense of urgency in accomplishing as much as I absolutely can these next few months to pull the family together and get us into a solid position. So much will change after the baby's born, including ease of mobility.  A baby will change the face of camping for at least the next five years.

One thing is certain: I'm at no deficit for inspiration or motivation.  It's been a long while since either came upon me in any great abundance.  I'm moved to WRITE.

-----

Now Publishing...
Notes on the sprouting of the sixth kid.

February 11, 2010

February 10, 2010

You will not make me cry. I will not let you make me cry.

If I were a lesser woman, I'd be in tears right now.

It's 47 degrees inside and out.  I've been freezing my rear all day.  Kids are fine near the fire in the living room, but I can only break away from "apprenticing" long enough to thaw my appendages, then it's back to holding wood in place, sweeping up, holding one end of the tape measure, etc. etc. etc.

Progress is so slow.  Really, all we thought we'd have to do was pull out the old broken door and replace it with a new one. But then we found rot on every adjacent beam....  You just can't cover that stuff up and hope it'll go away.

So it's 6 PM.  Getting too late for Miner to use any of the power tools if we want to stay in the neighbors' good graces.  But he's determined to get at least the door in the jamb before bedtime.  Don't know how he plans to accomplish that tonight, because the cedar siding has to go in before the door can.  That means more measuring, more cutting, more nailing....

I believe I'm going to be sick.  Already have a comfy cotton hanky in my pocket, waiting for the inevitable.

February 5, 2010

Finally tying the knot...

...Saturday, February 6th.  After a 14-year-long "engagement," Miner Refiner and I will be married in a small Justice of the Peace ceremony at home, in the presence of our five children and our parents.

It's about time!

January 26, 2010

Lady Pain

The lady on horseback eludes me still,
Black hooves upon rock
Stamping the hills
And the break in my belly
Parting the earth
With a sharpness
The sword has never seen.

January 24, 2010

31-28 Saints: A Reason to Believe

Well, the New Orleans Saints are going to the Super Bowl. At this moment, fans still linger at the stadium, not yet ready or willing to depart from the site of victory. Bourbon Street is saturated and pulsing. Here in Lafayette, just outside our house, neighbors are shooting off fireworks and lighting up the streets. State-wide ecstasy. Why? Or, more specifically, why am I ecstatic, too?

Because this state has needed some victory. We've needed something to be proud of. We've needed a moment of strength.

Ever since I was a little girl, I've always seen Louisiana in the bottom of every prosperity list (education, economy), and in the top of every undesirable list (crime rate, corruption). At times, we've come close to some kind of redemption, but we've never, ever quite gotten there.

And of course, there was Katrina. In every aspect, that hurricane changed the face of our state. We took a blow on every side: loss of life, loss of property, loss of face, loss of morale. New Orleans was the epicenter of the damage, but the tremors reverberated beyond our state's borders.

Tonight, what drew me to stand with our Saints was not statistics or a long love affair with football. It wasn't peer pressure or duty. It was the sense of hope and unity that's swept over this place.

Everywhere I go, I see the fleur-de-lis. I see black and gold. I see people of all ages and walks of life pressing their shoulders behind our team. Something to stand for. Something to believe in.

I always thought I'd be the last person in the world to wax sentimental about football, but...it's happened. The people of Louisiana touched my heart today, and the Saints are carrying it with them to Miami.

Geaux Saints! We believe!!!

January 23, 2010

The Sign - prose

Each time the month is upon me and a familiar fullness rests on my belly, my hips, the roundness of my cheeks, I search through memory for signs, for marks of prophecy threading over my breasts or folding in my bowels. For a certain kind of sleep or the need for extra air.

And then the month is here, and my heart exhales, and my bones break and my muscles fail onto them, spent and dried out, another echo, "You have passed the house."

The last is a period. The end of a thought. A declarative statement, precisely punctuated.

January 22, 2010

On Bicultural Identity, Assumption, & Communication

I'd like to know...Do the present generation of biracial/bicultural Americans struggle with the same crisis of identity I do?

For many years, I felt like an anomaly -- an Asian/Caucasian woman with deep Asian roots, but raised in the South; brought up with pervasive Asian influences, yet ingrained with Southern customs. A person who has been known to say "ya'll" and "pau" in the same sentence. An Asian-looking girl with a Southern accent. At times, I've felt like a social hiccup -- "a fly in the buttermilk," as Mom would say.

It's one experience to be biracial, but quite another to be bicultural. I mark a clear distinction between the two. There are many biracial people who are raised in a monocultural home, meaning there is a predominant culture they learn to identify with. And then, there are biracial people like me who were raised in a bicultural home heavily influenced by two cultures instead of one.

At home, there's little conflict because the two cultures meld to form a single home culture. In the immediate family, there's safety, security, and understanding.

But in my experience, however, the home culture terminates at some point. For me, the societal cultural influence I grew up in (small, traditional Southern town) was not only equal but surpassed that of my home culture. In a sense, the societal culture became the default by which all others were measured (Who's to blame for that? I may never know). That further complicated things, as I was not only challenged to establish my identity within my extended family, but also within the wider cultural structure of my region, a structure in which my bicultural perspective and identity was neither understood nor accommodated.

For the longest time, I had a great chip on my shoulder because it seemed the people around me regarded me with uncertainty, confusion, and/or suspicion (or didn't regard me at all). But, I've concluded -- How can I expect society to recognize and respect my identity if I myself don't recognize (and therefore am unable logically respect) it? No one can tell me who I am; that person, I must discover for myself.

And how important is it, really, to be able to express in mathematical or social-scientific terms WHAT my culture is? "Racially, I'm half-Caucasian and half-Asian, but culturally, I'm half-Pacific Islander instead of Asian, because my Asian father was born and raised in a mixed Asian/Pacific Islander environment." Huh???

Should I be able to condense my cultural identity for the sake of interpersonal communication? Is it necessary for me to offer to people a basic orientation, and if so, what purpose would it serve? To allay fears? To offer a sense of security? To establish a starting-place for interaction?

Does all this circle back to a fear of the unknown? Like trying to decipher a new acquaintance's core beliefs, disposition, or posture, in order to protect both parties from offending or being offended?

Idealistically speaking, two people ought to be able to approach and learn each other in a natural way without resorting to prejudgments or strategic positioning, but I just don't believe that's most often the case.

Personally, when I meet someone new, I'm immediately attentive to certain characteristics or mannerisms that might reveal a unique aspect for which I may need to conscientiously exhibit respect. Maybe it's a perspective unnatural to me -- for instance, the equality of ages -- which may be held sacred on account of religious beliefs, cultural tradition, or personal philosophy. Personally, I believe in a hierarchy of seniority, but if I were to meet someone who felt age preference is fundamentally unfair, of course I might take care to conduct myself a little more reservedly in that area as long as we're in each other's presence -- this, in order to be respectful of another's beliefs, and also to preserve the avenue of communication between us.

So, I suppose I'm guilty of prejudgments and strategic positioning, too, but in the spirit of furthering relationships.

What does this have to do with culture? I was going to write, culture (especially where minorities are concerned) is often one of the most obvious characteristic a person reveals on first sight, but after a moment of reflection, I believe just the opposite is true. This is where unjustified or inaccurate prejudgments come into play. Frequently, because a person is a minority, an assumption about her culture is made, and then, she either fulfills the assumption -- to the relative comfort of all -- or she breaks the assumption, which may result in discomfort and strained communication.

And this is such an enigma to me because I can neither fulfill the assumption nor break it, because the reality of my identity is somewhere in between. For me, this means people often choose to remain outside the circle of communication, or step into the circle of communication only to learn their previous assumptions were not quite right. That can make for some embarrassing situations, for both parties.

I'm not bitter or cynical about all this. I'm not a lonely person. I don't feel like an exile or an outcast. I do feel misunderstood sometimes, but thankfully, I prefer a smaller circle of intimates, so in the end, it all works out.

As always, though, I want to understand. Someone once told me, "You're a mystery even to yourself," and it's absolutely true. I'm not proud of it, but I can't apologize for it either. Questioning myself has gotten me this far, and I can't say that's a bad place to be.