Saturday, June 28, 2008

So I'm in London...

London, Kentucky, that is. I had no idea there was such a place. We should be in Knoxville, Tennessee by now, but we've been rained off the road twice in the past two days and it's put us a little behind schedule. As it turned out, that was just fine this evening. Nothing wrong with a civilized meal and a decent night's least, if memory serves correctly. Thus far this evening has afforded me the recently unprecedented opportunities to read a novel and to IM with a friend WITHOUT multi-tasking. And now it's 9:30 p.m. and there's nothing I absolutelyhavetofinishtonight. I hardly know how to handle it. I think I could get used to this vacation thing. Especially in a place like London, Kentucky, where the options are limited and relaxing is pretty much mandatory.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Wordless Wednesday

You may have to click to enlarge (these words don't count, right?)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Happy Birthday to Me...

Okay, it's not my birthday.

Still, I want to whine a little.

Wednesday was actually my birthday, and it began with the painful onset of a new round of ovarian cysts and a migraine. One of my daughter's friends had a (serious) crisis and ended up spending the whole day with us, which led my daughter to abandon her plan to go shopping with my mother for a gift for me, which further led my daughter to breaking down crying in the evening because she didn't have a gift for me.

Because things have been unbelievably busy at work and we're working mandatory full days on Saturday and I was just getting back up to speed from my first round of cysts and my mother had been having medical problems, I canceled the cookout I was supposed to be having today to celebrate my birthday.

There's a certain irony in this. You see, for the past few years I've been resolutely ignoring my birthday to the point that it's made things tough on my friends and family. I've flat-out refused to celebrate. This year, after a life-altering realization at Easter, I was quite eager to celebrate with everyone from my past and present, and invited more people to celebrate with me than I've ever hosted in one place in my life.

And's illness...unexpected mandatory trip to New can do.

But it turns out that it's a VERY GOOD THING that I canceled my cookout today.

You see, when my daughter got out of the shower around noon today, there was a suspicious gurgling noise in my laundry closet. Apparently, pipes gurgle when they DISCHARGE A BUNCH OF RAW SEWAGE ALL OVER YOUR KITCHEN FLOOR.

So we're supposed to be going out to dinner with my family tonight, but I'm currently sitting at my house waiting for various plumbers and other professionals to clean and rout and patch and whatever else it is they have to do to make my house a house again. At the moment, it smells like a swamp and I can't take a much for the whole "I'll wait until this afternoon since we're going out tonight" thing.

The only upside is that I'm laughing. It's a somewhat bitter and ironic laugh, I'll admit, but I'm just sure that it's better than crying.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Thank God for Garbage!

I know, I know. Far too many posts here have been dedicated to my garbage and recycling. We've discussed that already. But today, I have a whole new attitude toward garbage. Today I am CELEBRATING GARBAGE!

You see, this morning when I went out to haul my garbage to the curb like I do every Monday morning, I saw something unusual.

My neighbor was waiting patiently to cross the four-lane road in front of my house.

He's three.

He was on his Big Wheel.

In his underwear.

He was very agreeable when I suggested that we needed to head back to his house, and obligingly scooted his Big Wheel alongside me. When I asked where he'd been headed, he said he was just going to work. While I knocked and rang bells and tried to wake up his parents, my daughter had a talk with him about how cars can hurt you.

Now, I know that about a thousand of you are shaking your heads in disgust at his parents right now, because that's what we have to do. The only way we can pretend that this terrifying stuff can't happen to us is by finding something to distinguish us from those parents.

This kid has fantastic parents. I don't know them well, but I see them in the yard with their kids all the time. They actively play with them, and they stick close to them. And they've obviously taught him well, because he was WAITING HIS TURN to cross the street. But, like all of us, they occasionally have to sleep. And early this morning while they were sleeping, we all learned that their three year old has figured out how to open the patio door.

We also learned something great about human nature, because inn the space of a minute or so, the time it took me to get from my porch to the corner, another woman stopped her van and got out to ask him where his mother was and yet another passerby called the Sheriff, who arrived within minutes.

All is well.

But I think it's going to be a long time before I complain about having to take my garbage out.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

What I Wish People Understood

Most of my posts on this blog have a taste of tongue-in-cheek humor or insight or perspective or...something useful or entertaining. I don't think I have a positive spin for this one.

I'm going to be 42 years old this week. I look much younger; most people take me to be in my early thirties, and people are often shocked that I have a twelve-year-old daughter (and more shocked to discover that I was nearly thirty when she was born). That may or may not be relevant, but I think it is--I think the fact that I don't "look sick" works against me every day.

I have a malformed renal artery that may or may not be the cause of chronic high blood pressure. I am dependent on a medication that causes fatigue and depression. I have a minor heart valve problem, not serious or life threatening, but which means that when I get a jolt of adrenalin or I'm sick or I don't get enough sleep or any of a dozen other triggers, my heart rate shoots up and stays there...I feel my heart beating in my whole body, and I can't sleep because it gets worse when I lie down. When my blood pressure is unstable, I have migraines sometimes 10 or 12 days a month, so severe that I throw up and the blood vessels in my eyes break. I have dizzy spells and see little silver spots floating in front of my eyes.

Sounds like a long whine, I know, and I'm really not whining. I know that a lot of people have it a lot worse than I do, and I'm very grateful (especially since I'm a single mother) for the fact that I've been able to keep working. But here's my problem...because I AM able to keep working despite the cost, because I do make it a point to get out and do as much with my kid as I can, even though it more often means just sitting outside and watching her play these days than playing with her, people tend to dismiss my limitations. I don't think it's that they don't believe me, quite. Well, not most of them. I did have one boss, recently, who opted not to believe that I was sick and to solidify his position by refusing to look at medical documentation because he "didn't want to be that kind of boss." But it's rare. For the most part, I think it's more that it's just not concrete for people.

I get diagnoses, treatments are suggested, sometimes tried, and my friends are sincerely concerned. But life goes on. Nothing changes. And I don't LOOK sick. I don't sound sick. The person sitting across from me can't see the little lights floating in front of my eyes and when I say I can't walk any farther, the person walking next to me can't feel the way my heart is quivering.

Sometimes, I have long periods when I feel reasonably well and, if I'm not stretched too thin by necessities, I can go about my life like a normal person, socialize, walk, play with my daughter. There are other periods, sometimes equally long, when it is literally all I can do to show up to work every day, feed my kid, and get enough sleep to stay alive.

And that "stay alive" thing isn't drama. Before I was out of my thirties I was hospitalized for my blood pressure twice, and both times it was terrifying. The medication that is supposed to instantly drop your blood pressure didn't work on me. My blood pressure was so high that one doctor said that if it stayed that high it could cause brain damage even if I DIDN'T have a stroke. I know what it feels like when I'm in trouble, and I know what's going to happen if I don't take firm hold of it.

And yet my friends...people I know are sincerely concerned about me...simply can't accept it when that happens. They email and call in guilt trips about how long it's been since they've seen me and how I'm neglecting them and how they miss ME even if I have better things to do. They bombard me with invitations and counter-proposals and talk about me having "excuses" not to do this or that.

I have an excuse. It's that the number one goal in my life is to live to see my child into adulthood and to be able to work long enough to support her until she's self-supporting. That's it. That's what I'm living for. And anything that threatens that doesn't happen.

If that sounds like melodrama to you, then you're a very fortunate person, and I envy the fact that you've never had to choose between living your life and preserving it. Sometimes, that's my reality.

My daughter recognizes it to some degree and I hate that. I can't bear when she says, "Mommy, why don't you go take a nap?" even though it's a summer day and she's dying to get out somewhere, because she just watched me fall asleep with my head in a pile of laundry I was folding. I hate when she comes out at night when I'm working and asks if there isn't anything at all that she can help me with. It makes me ill that her childhood is limited by my health.

But it also makes me angry. It makes me angry that my 12-year-old is willing to set aside her own wants to make sure that I get the rest I need and don't push myself, and most of the adults in my life can't do anything but take it personally. Sometimes, in my worst moments, I envy the people who are just a little bit worse off than I am. If I were in the hospital, after all, no one would be mad that I couldn't go out to dinner or make a quick trip into the city or go swimming at someone's house or any of the hundred other things that seem as far off and unreal to me, in the bad phases, as flying to the moon.