Diapers and Dragons

Wednesday, July 17, 2013


I'm a coward.

It's a bit difficult to see that down in black and white on the screen before me, but it's true enough. I'm afraid of many, many things in life, but mainly I'm afraid of pain.

Not physical pain, but emotional. Not just mine, but others'. Not just real, but imagined.

The world around me is filled with hurt and risk and despair, and rather than face it all bravely head on, I run and hide.

Tonight I'm realizing that I've done this with at least two friends recently, with potentially a third. Rather than being there for them in their pain and anguish, rather than being a life ring or rope or branch or even a twig for them to hold onto in their maelstroms of grief...

I held myself apart. Let distance become emotional as well as physical. Used the physical distance as the reason for being distant emotionally.

It's what I do.

But it gets more complicated.

It's why I held myself apart from The Ex, never fully taking the risk of exposing myself to emotional damage (and how well that worked).

It's why I rarely make friends with anyone physically nearby, so that I don't have to experience them on a daily basis unless I choose to do so virtually.

It's why I have mini panic attacks about the growing friendship with a woman who lives only fifteen minutes' drive away and with whom I could see myself getting close--if I let it happen.

It's why I barely communicate with my parents when they're thousands of miles and a continent away, when their absence is a daily ache if I let myself think of them.

It's why I've never done the hard work of closing the gap between myself and my sister, and let her physical distance excuse the emotional distance between us.

It's why I keep my children just a hand's breadth away, just enough to provide a buffer against the chaos of loving them fully.

It's why I'm terrified on a daily basis of losing MTL--to Death, most of all--because I've let him in further than anyone else.

I'm a coward.

And I'm afraid I don't know how not to be one--and even more afraid that I don't want not to be one either.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A Deep and Bitter Well

I don't know how to let go of the anger.

I thought it was gone, or at least faded. I haven't seen my grandmother in over year, and that was at my paternal grandfather's funeral, where my interaction was somewhat minimal, and I was able to smile and make nice on a day that precluded personal comments or criticisms. She smiled and said very little and mostly seemed old, vague, frail.

I haven't visited her in years, not since the summer of 2009 when my brother went with me and the boys. He performed beautifully in the Buffer role that my mother usually takes. I was distant and sad, keeping mainly to myself or spending time with the boys on the beach, mulling over the disintegration of my first marriage. I think Grandma didn't quite know what to say to me, and thankfully she kept her opinions on my marital quasi-status to herself.

I frankly admit this: I have avoided her. When I can get away with not seeing her at all, I do. I use my family and schedule as a convenient, albeit legitimate, excuse. On the rare occasions that I attend family functions in my area, I say little other than greetings, farewells, and a touch of polite chitchat in between. I rarely think about her, and when I do, mostly feel indifferent. Distance and rarity of interaction have swathed memory and emotion in protective padding.

Yesterday when I retrieved the mail, I found a card from her. My first thought upon seeing the envelope was I wonder if she's writing me to say she's proud of me? To apologize? Would I even care if she did?

I opened the card last, and realized as I picked it up that my hands were shaking. Not so distant from the emotions after all.  Anger. Hope. Sorrow. Resentment.

She invited me to Thanksgiving. More accurately, she wrote to invite you and your husband and your little boy.

Boy? Did she have the right granddaughter in mind? Was she thinking of my sister? My cousin C? My cousin D? They each have one small son.

The rest of the card made it clear that indeed she intended it for me. So what did she mean by this phrase? Was she neglecting to use MTL's name on purpose? Could she not remember to whom I am married? Was she intending a subtle recognition that he is, in fact, my husband (despite divorce and remarriage)? Did she intend to leave my stepchildren out of the invitation? She could have written you and your family, you know.

Or am I overthinking a few words written by an elderly woman whose mind is increasingly vague and "off"? Am I allowing old, old bitterness to cloud my reaction?

We won't be able to go way up to her house for Thanksgiving, but we already plan to go, with almost the entire Horde and my parents, for a few days following Christmas. I had thought I would be able to handle proximity fairly easily. My mother will be there, and most likely my brother as well, and I can always escape to the snowy outdoors with my husband to throw snowballs at our children or take walks through the woods.

Now I'm uncertain.

The anger is still there. It has sunken with time, become still rather than tumultuous. But the well is deep and bitter, and I fear I may never be able to drain it of the dregs.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Classrooms and Conferences

Parent Teacher Conferences were on Wednesday--well, the one in which I was the teacher, not the parent. That's a whole different kettle of impossible-to-schedule fish, when one has five children in the local schools. Thankfully, The Dark One's grandmother takes care of hers for us, because the idea of driving an hour to attend them is not one I relish.

At any rate, it was a Very Long Day. By trick of the Scheduling Gods, it was the one day of the week when I do not have a prep hour, and conferences start eleven minutes after the end of the school day. That's just long enough to grab my materials, wheel my comfy chair down to the elevator and then to the Gym, and make a run to the nearest restroom. Fun times.

I ended up getting a flood of parents after our dinner break, to the point where I was stumbling over words and staring at faces blearily through a growing headache. I finished speaking with the last parent nearly ten minutes after the end of conferences, closing out the place with one other English teacher. I got home fifteen hours after I'd left in the morning, long after MTL had left for work (he has a third shift position now--more on that in another post) and just after the four littles had gotten to bed.

Even more than the physical drain, parent teacher conferences these days--and especially this year--are emotionally and mentally draining. Fall of 2012 has been full of angst, and not just for me. I cannot recall a year in which I have looked out at my classes and seen so many students sitting there quietly bleeding inside.

Conferences only exposed more--or explained some situations that I had not already been able to draw out of my students. More than once my eyes were flooded with barely-contained tears, and at least once I found myself grasping the hand of a parent sitting across from me, trying to convey some measure of comfort through a momentary touch.

I have a choice every day in my job. Shall I focus solely on the academics? Shall I look past the pain in these children's eyes and remind myself that I wasn't hired to be their therapist? Shall I stay firmly ten feet away from the boundary of Personal Life?

Or shall I reach out, take the personal risk of rejection and exposure to pain, and treat the student as a whole person rather than an academic entity?

I think you can tell which side I choose.

I can't look past the pain in their eyes--the students' or the parents'. I can't sweep it under the rug and say "it's not my job." Technically, it's not. And I do have to be careful about the boundaries, because the mix between Personal and Professional can be precarious. But it's worth it, in the end, to have a student give that bit more effort in class because he feels like his teacher cares about him as a person rather than just another one of many in a classroom. It's worth it to receive an email from a student who says that being able to cry and spill out her story to me in the hallway made her feel like she had a bit of hope. It's worth it to have a mother who's juggling two babies and aching for her older son who is drifting away in the pain of poverty and rejection from his father leave my table with a slight lift of her head, a sense that the burden is being shared rather than on her shoulders alone. It's worth it to have another mother thank me, with tears trickling down her face, for just listening.

I do not teach numbers or replicated clones who all appear in my classroom with the same skills and interests and, above all, histories. It's the great challenge: every year I teach around 150 students and somehow have to try to reach them each as individuals. I cannot reach them all--some of them won't even let me.

But I refuse to stop trying. I refuse to say that it's not my job to care. I refuse to worry about test scores at the expense of personhood. I refuse to say that they should all just be shunted away to be dealt with by someone else or somewhere else or stuck behind an electronic screen so we can all save a little bit of money out of our taxes.

I refuse to say it's someone else's problem. It's not. As Thomas Merton once said, The whole idea of compassion is based on a keen awareness of the interdependence of all these living beings, which are all part of one another, and all involved in one another.

They are part of me, and as I extend compassion and hope for healing to them, so do I receive in return hope for my own.

Monday, November 5, 2012

Return of the Prodigal Poster

I know. I went away. Some of you noticed and sent distressed emails and made me feel loved for a bit. The rest of you were silent--I'm assuming because you had not, for whatever reason, saved my email address at the top of your Favorites list and, since my domain disappeared and then was taken over by one of those blasted advertising sites, no longer had the helpful "Email Me" button to click.

I'm back.

I left--or rather, faded away and then simply allowed the custom domain to expire when I received the increasingly distressed emails inquiring whether I'd like to renew and it really doesn't cost much, please just click on this link--because I felt completely bottled up with my writing. Having a blended family of this complexity and, well, challenge made it very difficult to write anything. Can't vent about that person--she might read it...Can't vent about that child--this or that former spouse may read it, or someone he/she knows may read it and then send it, or even show it to the child...Can't write about how I really feel about various complicated situations because of sensitive legalities and various whatnot.

Privacy issues. That's what it boiled down to.

And it still does, really, which means I won't be posting as much about my crazy complicated family as I might otherwise.

However, I need to write. I've been feeling an ache for several months, needing this blog, needing the outlet, needing the audience. I am fragile and raw these days as I work through decades-old pain and current crises. I'm stuck in an old bog, really. I looked back through my posts from yesteryears and realized that what I'm trying to do now is what I was supposed to do almost two years ago and didn't. I didn't push myself through the barrier and the pain, and frankly neither did that therapist. In fact, I stopped seeing her a few months later. Our sessions just weren't going anywhere, and our schedules no longer meshed.

So. New year, new therapist, and I have to do the work this time or I might not make it through intact.

I need to write, and I need an audience in order for it to be real, and my lame attempts to start other anonymous blogs died in the birthing.

This blog has served as catharsis before. Perhaps, if I can pour my pain and record my joys on these electronic pages, I can face the dragons again.

Maybe, just maybe, this time I can win the fight.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Great Tidings of ... Change. Maybe Some Joy. It's In There Somewhere.

Yes, yes, I know it has been ages (again) and the few holdouts who ever bother to check whether I even have a post up are wondering what has happened to me. The rest of you are apparently just too lazy to remove me from your blogrolls, and bless you for it. My ego gets somewhat soothed by seeing that my number of followers has miraculously remained the same during this inadvertent sabbatical.

Things have been....complicated. In order to protect certain people's privacy and to not stir up more drama in an already overly dramatic situation, I have been keeping silent here, much as I wanted (and still want) to pour things out for you. It would make fascinating reading, I'm sure, in a National Enquirer sort of way. Or perhaps like the script of a Jerry Springer show.

So let me 'splain...No, there is too much. Let me sum up.

A person of our acquaintance and her husband are each in circumstances that render them currently unable to take care of their five-year-old daughter. She (the five-year-old) has been with us for the last week and a half, and will be with us for an undetermined space of time, although we have plans to enroll her in kindergarten here in our district for the rest of the school year. We have been given a form of power of attorney for her that allows us to act as her parental agents for the next six months.

So we now have a Brady Bunch! Truly so this week, as The Dark One is with us over most of Winter Break. And lord help us, this house suddenly feels much smaller.

Despite all the noise and stress, MTL and I keep getting confirmation that we've made the right decision by taking The Hurricane (as we have nicknamed the wild child) into our home. To keep the story short(er), I'll give you the highlights:
  • We needed $200 in order to pay a lawyer to draw up the Delegation of Parental Powers. We were very short on cash that week, and wouldn't have the money until our payday, one day later than we needed. I was able to contact my parents out in West Africa to ask if we could borrow the money for a day. It turned out that earlier that day my father had become convinced that we were going to need some money for whatever was going on in the situation, and the amount of $200 came into his mind. In addition, they made the decision, before we even Skyped them, to gift us the money rather than loan it. (Have I mentioned that I have wonderful parents?)
  • Two weeks earlier or so, before we even had a clue we would be taking in The Hurricane, my sister was shopping for Christmas gifts for the children. She saw an extra one that she was drawn to, and decided to just go ahead and buy it, even though she wasn't sure why. Turns out it was perfect for our new addition!
  • The Widget had a Santa's Workshop at his daycare (to purchase small gifts for family), and I was supposed to turn in the money and list of names by last Tuesday. Since it wasn't my custody week, I forgot and didn't get it in until Thursday. The Hurricane joined us very suddenly Tuesday night. I was therefore able to include her name on the list and add a bit to the money I turned in, and The Widget was able to buy a gift for her as well!
  • My brother, the wonderful DorkMaster B, was able to rearrange his one morning shift at work so that he could come stay with us last week and be with The Hurricane during the work day. Without his graciousness, we would have struggled to care for her during my last week of work before break.
  • I had been attempting to make an appointment with the kids' elementary school's social worker in order to clue her in on some issues going on with KlutzGirl, and had been frustrated by the lack of response. However, because of the delay, when we did meet we were able to discuss The Hurricane's situation as well. She is now filled in and better prepared should anything come up at school with either girl and she is needed in a support situation.
There are other incidents as well, but those are some of the ones I can share.

It's been an exhausting week. Well, realistically, it's been an exhausting few months. Our stress levels are high, we aren't getting much sleep, and privacy is a rare commodity around here. But I know we're doing the right thing.

And the kids are awfully cute, amidst all the commotion. It's going to be a crazy awesome Christmas.

Merry Christmas, Happy Chanukah, Happy Solstice, or whatever other holiday you may be celebrating this time of year! May the next year be a wonderful one--and far less dramatic than this one.

Hugs and Kisses,
The Crazy Woman Running This Crazy Household

Friday, December 2, 2011

Adventures in Domestic Divinity: The Widget's Apple-Oatmeal Muffins

One of the most difficult challenges in dealing with The Widget's dietary restrictions is baking breads, muffins, cookies, and the like. While I can at least use yeast, which allows me to actually make real bread (something I was never able to successfully accomplish back when I was doing this for DramaBoy), having to avoid gluten AND rice, soy, corn, and buckwheat makes the task....interesting. There are many fabulous food-sensitivity recipes out there these days, thanks primarily to the other bloggers who have similar issues in their households (check out the links down on the right hand margin), so I don't have to do everything from scratch. However, as I've become more familiar and comfortable with the different Funky Flours I use, I've been able to play around with conventional recipes as well.

I've been wanting to get more fiber into The Widget's diet, because he inherited certain, um, issues from a grandparent that make visits to the toilet another challenge. (Thank God the child likes prune juice. Just sayin'.) I also recently discovered that there IS such a thing as gluten-free oats! Therefore, I am not limited to using quinoa flakes in the place of oats. They generally are a good alternative, but they have a distinctive taste that doesn't work with everything, they are very fine in texture, and I don't like overloading The Widget's system with any one ingredient (which can trigger new sensitivities).

So today I checked some options on the Intarwebz and, praise be to the Google gods, found a simple recipe that I could easily adapt. With no further ado, I present you with:

The Widget's Apple-Oatmeal Muffins*

  • 1 cup dry gluten-free rolled oats (Bob's Red Mill makes some that should be readily available at Whole Foods or the like)
  • 1 cup almond milk mixed with 1 Tbsp white vinegar (replacing sour milk or buttermilk)
  • 1 medium egg
  • 1/2 cup brown or white sugar
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup tapioca starch
  • 1/2 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/2 cup almond flour/meal (Avoid Bob's Red Mill's almond flour, as it seems to be too heavy for baking. I order mine from nutsonline.com)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon safe baking powder (Be careful if you need to avoid corn and gluten! Hain Pure Foods makes a cornstarch- and gluten-free baking powder)
  • 1 cup peeled, finely chopped apples
In a large bowl, combine the oats and almond milk/vinegar and let stand for a few minutes so that the oats absorb some of the liquid. In a separate small bowl, beat the egg and oil together. Add to the oats/milk mixture along with the sugar. Beat well with a wire whisk. Mix together the flour, baking soda, salt and baking powder in a separate bowl, then add to the oat mixture. Mix until all of the dry particles are moistened, using about 20 or 30 strokes by hand--do not over beat! Add the apples and mix in quickly.

Spoon the batter into a dozen lined muffin cups. Bake at 400 degrees for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool for a few minutes, then remove to a wire rack. Fabulous for a healthy snack or breakfast-on-the-go!

*adapted from Hillbilly Housewife's recipe for Oatmeal Muffins

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Twinkle, Twinkle

Do you find that blogging helps you work through your emotions? asked my sister the other day, as I was venting to her in a long-overdue phone conversation.

Yes, yes I do. In fact, it was a crucial part of working through my depression and anguish and slow healing when my first marriage imploded, not to mention dealing (at long last) with a number of other issues that bubbled to the surface when I finally got help. Read my archives from 2009 and see what I mean.

Writing is a release for me, but I have discovered that I need an audience in order to write effectively. Private journals are worthless. Emails to a handful of people feel...insufficient. Blogging is a perfect solution, right?

Except that the anger and stress and anxiety with which I am dealing right now aren't mine to share with the world. Well, I mean, they're my emotions and whatnot, but they're about people and situations that leave me voiceless here. To write about what's going on would violate people's privacy and, quite possibly, make the situation worse.

So I'm usually silent. On here, at any rate. And Facebook.

(Because I'm not going to be one of Those People, that's why.)


Christmas is a shining light in the midst of this swirling darkness, let me tell you. Or, more aptly, an array of twinkling lights. We have pledged not to go so overboard financially this year (I got a little carried away last year), but there are ways (other than the obvious wallet-related one) in which that's better anyway. I am thinking more carefully about what to get for each person, and I'm making a few as well. I'm also working with the kids to choose gifts for MTL and each other, because I believe strongly that children should give and not just receive.

I love making gifts for Christmas. It takes me back to my own childhood, when my sister and I rarely had any money of our own to spend on gifts for our parents or each other. We would make a sign for our bedroom door declaring it official Santa's Workshop territory and denying entrance to everyone else. Then we'd take odds and ends of this and that, raiding our mother's extensive craft cupboard for much of what we needed, and we'd make all sorts of amazing gifts. Looking back, I'm rather astonished by our creativity. Two different years we created panoramas for our mother. The one I remember most was this extraordinarily detailed rendition of a market stall, with "bolts" of fabric on the walls, little drawers made from matchboxes containing bric a brac, and people made from twigs and clothes pegs and beads. There was a woman with braided hair trying on a shoe (a singleton from a Barbie pair), a male merchant displaying cloth, and a woman unmistakably meant to be our mother examining the fabric.

This, my friends, is what happens when kids have lots of free time and no real access to electronics of any kind. IMAGINATION. CREATIVITY. FUN. <insert cantankerous grumbling about "kids these days">

I'm fairly certain the month leading up to Christmas was the one time of year my sister and I actually worked or played together in Peace and Harmony.

So this year I'm making a few gifts, and I'm helping my little KlutzGirl, who is never so happy as when making or drawing something, to make a few as well. In those moments, looking at the work of my hands and knowing that I'm demonstrating my love for the recipients in a very tangible way--that's when those lights twinkle brightly enough to drive the shadows aside for a breath of time.


Part of the challenge of blending families is blending holiday traditions. MTL and I have been fairly fortunate. We aren't in direct opposition with any of it, especially since his traditions are more general and mine more specific. Last year I introduced a number of Christmas traditions to my new family, including putting an angel on the top of the tree, making Christmas Eggs for breakfast, and forbidding the children to leave their bedrooms on Christmas morning until they hear Christmas music start playing. When they emerged at last, impatient and excited, they found the Christmas tree piled 'round with presents, candles lit, and hot chocolate waiting for them.

They seemed to enjoy it, but one never knows how kids will react to New Ideas. On Sunday as we were waiting in the car for MTL to join us, The Padawan asked if we were going to do Christmas morning the same way this year.

What do you mean? I asked.

Like the music, he replied. I liked waiting until I heard the music and then coming down. Oh, and are you going to make those egg things again?

You mean the Christmas Eggs? I asked.

Yeah! Those were awesome.

Yeah! I liked all that too! chimed in KlutzGirl. And the hot chocolate and the candles and stuff. Are we doing that again?

As if I'd miss the chance to see those smiles on their faces!


This morning I proctored the first half of the PLAN test, since it's being administered to all the sophomores today and my first class of the day was a sophomore class. As I wandered up and down the aisles in the gym, I felt a sudden surge of warmth wash over me. These kids, these teens...they're annoying and frustrating and obnoxious as hell on a daily basis, but I love working with them. It's hard to remember sometimes these days, surrounded as we are by such negativity and derision directed toward my profession. I'm even looking into a new career path, because realistically I may not be allowed to remain in my career for sheer financial and political reasons. It's an ugly time to be a public school teacher, people.

But this morning, as I looked at row after row of faces, many of which I know, I felt the warmth and worth of what I do (yes, even when proctoring a damn standardized test), of working with these children caught on the cusp of adulthood. They are worth the sweat and tears and stress and time we pour into them every day, every week, every year.

I don't know how much longer I'll be a teacher, and I won't feel those warm fuzzies every day, but no one can make me regret the years I spend here.


It's a rough road I travel, at times. As my dear friend Amy said a couple of weeks ago, we are not women destined for smooth and easy lives. It would be lovely to win the lottery and not have to worry about money or debt any more. It would be lovely for the politicians to all have epiphanies and start working for the regular people instead of the corporations. It would be lovely for certain individuals to either undergo miraculous personality transformations or just....disappear.

I don't think any of those are likely to happen, alas. Life is not that neat and tidy.

But there are compensations. There are rewards for the pain. Sometimes the twinkling lights and silver linings are dimmed by the shadows and mist, but they exist.

They shine in the moments when my students understand a new concept, get excited by a piece of literature, and find safe harbor in my classroom.

They shine in the smiles on my children and stepchildren's faces, can be heard in their laughter as they rough and tumble with each other each afternoon after school, siblings in action and deed rather than just name.

They shine in the touch and looks and words of my beloved husband, who laid his head against me last night and told me he had never dreamed he would ever find his Home.

Twinkle on, Life. Twinkle on.

...laugh, leaning back in my arms
for life's not a paragraph

And death i think is no parenthesis

--e. e. cummings

Friday, November 11, 2011

Counting in Tongues


Yesterday was Parent Teacher Conferences, which means that today my brain has the approximate operating power of your average pudding cup. Unlike previous years, when I examined the schedule, observed the impending doom, and wisely arranged for my students to be involved in quizzes or independent projects or the like (therefore validating the wonderful people who consider me to be an overpaid babysitter, of course), my planning this week lacked forethought. One half of my brain noted that I needed to make sure my husband and The Ex and various and sundry other persons were filling in that day, since I would not be home until after bedtime for the Littles. The other half merrily planned away, somehow under the impression that I would be capable of such teacherly feats as grammar instruction the day after conferences.

That part of my brain was wrong.


My seniors are instead reading a Challenging and Opinionated Article on personal conscience vs. social conscience, inspired by the classic play Antigone. Somehow my brain was able to get involved in a rather interesting debate on whether or not medical practitioners should be able to refuse to perform medical services due to moral objections, such as surgery for ectopic pregnancies. I find it endlessly fascinating that the moral and philosophical debates that existed thousands of years B.C.E. are still so relevant today.

We then strayed into the delicate arena of The Great Abortion Debate. I was a bit nervous, but it went rather well. We didn't even get shouty, despite widely varying perspectives and beliefs. How sad that a bunch of high school seniors are more capable of polite debate than our politicians.


We aren't supposed to have the kids this weekend, yet somehow it has become filled with Kid-Related Activities. The Padawan will be staying with us, since he has hunter's safety classes on Saturday and Sunday. KlutzGirl has a birthday party to attend on Sunday that will require us to get her from her mother's rather earlier than usual.

I'm hoping we may manage to grab an hour to ourselves somewhere in there. My hopes are not high.


Children are exhausting. How is it that I wound up with so many, again? And how is it that somehow I realized the other day that if disaster occurred and one of our children had a baby as a teen, I would want to raise the baby?

I question my sanity on a regular basis.

--A Cúig--

DramaBoy turns six on the 25th. His first birthday wish list included an XBox, a Wii, and a variety of games for both systems.

We laughed and told him to try again.

Have I mentioned that he already plays Portal, DragonBall Z, and Minecraft like a pro, all games which make me throw up my hands and despair? I'm so proud.



We have kittens. I don't think I've mentioned this. I caved to family pressure and the ridiculous cuteness of photos posted by a friend, and agreed we could adopt another kitten. When I went to pick up said kitten, the aforementioned friend tricked me into playing with her siblings. Her little sister kept hiding under my pant leg and peeking out at me.

I brought home two kittens instead of one.

So now we have adolescent Halo (who moodily varies between freaking out over the invaders and trying to play with them), shy and sweet Oreo (the original intended adoptee), and outgoing/cuddly/extremely loud-and-squeaky Shadow (who purrs instantly when touched and has a monotone meow stuck on Loud and Demanding). Both of the kittens are Lap Kitties, so we are now guaranteed lapfuls of furs and purrs whenever we sit down.

Sometimes insanity pays off.


I love my husband.

That is all.

Friday, October 28, 2011

My Mind is Smushy. Much Like Pumpkin Puree.

I haven't done one of these in ages, but it sounds about right today. Quick takes are about the only kind I have energy or time for, and hang the dangling preposition too.


My brother, DorkMaster B, turns 25 today. This is impossible, as he is still 8 years old. At most, 9. Of course, there are compensations for his annual flaunting of my increasing decrepitude. He's much more useful than he was--erm, is?--at 8. Not to mention much more fun with which to play games (take that, preposition!). Still. A quarter century? Next thing you know I'll be turning 40 or some such sh*t.


My Daddy will be spending the weekend with us. The children are all in transports of joy--well, at least the three younger ones. The Padawan is being very cool about it. He is thirteen, after all. I am quite happy about it, and hope that his puns and gentle humor will help shake both me and MTL out of our funks.


You know what it's like when you know you're partially at fault for something but don't really want to admit it because dammit you also have a bit of your own point, but at the same time if you keep being stubborn about it you'll never come to peace with the person you love most, but at the same time you are miffed that he's being a stubborn--um, something--himself, and mostly you just want to curl up in his arms and forgive and be forgiven but stupid responsibilities like work make it impossible and you know that it's a conversation that needs to be made in person rather than over gchat or email?

Please tell me you do. Because it sucks. Par for the course for October this year, though.


I am not good at admitting to faults and hypocrisy. I do not like being Wrong about something, dammit.


I made pumpkin muffins last night, and they were delicious. The Padawan was delighted. The Widget was delighted. I was delighted. I don't know if anyone else is delighted or not, since I have not witnessed them eating any as yet. Here's the recipe (as I made it, properly modified for a Food Sensitive Household, adapted from Allrecipes.com):

  • 1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin puree
  • 3/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 cups raw sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup almond flour
  • 1 cup sorghum flour
  • 1/3 cup tapioca flour/starch
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg or allspice
  • 3/4 teaspoon ground cloves

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Line muffin tin with muffin papers.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the pumpkin, oil, sugar, and eggs. Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves; stir into the pumpkin mixture until well blended. Fill muffin tins.
  3. Bake in preheated oven for 30-35 minutes.

OR double the recipe above, grease and flour three 9x5 inch loaf pans, and bake for 45 minutes to 1 hour. The top of the loaves should spring back when lightly pressed. 


We keep saying that we're going to save money towards a minivan, and each month somehow there's no money to save. We need to figure this out. I suspect the children. It's always the children.


I have so much grading to accomplish this next week that I feel like my head is likely to explode and my hands be worn to stubs. My students keep pointing out that if I wouldn't assign work, I wouldn't have grading to do. They have a point.

And if you want to read something more interesting than my fatigued babble, go check out Jen!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Weak and Weepy

I've never been particularly good at admitting my weaknesses. The sorts that can be deprecatingly laughed about, like my lack of self-control when it comes to shoes or dark chocolate with raspberries, my obsession with the numbers on radio volume control, my tendency to twitch when I see apostrophes used for plurality...fine. Those are the sorts of weaknesses we fondly call "foibles," those little quirks of personality that transform us into special little snowflakes, possibly just a touch flakier than the next one over.

But real weaknesses? The sort that require trips to therapists, medication, incredible patience on the part of those who live with us?

Not so much.

I spent at least three years mired in high-functioning postpartum depression because I couldn't bring myself to ask for help. I was so good at hiding the despair poisoning my soul that most people made all sorts of admiring comments on how Together I was, what a SuperWoman I was...Ha. It didn't help that the one time I did tell The Ex that I thought I was depressed and in trouble, he told me to suck it up. I kept my mouth shut for another six months after that, and by then I had fallen so much further that I almost didn't make it back out.

I've come a long way since then, but I still struggle to admit that I'm, well, struggling. I have the few individuals who are "safe": DraftQueen, Heidi, Amy, and of course MTL. I don't fear judgment from them, in part because they have all Been There in one way or another, and because they love me for who I really am rather than who I would like people to think I am.

And...I just realized I'm doing a very good job of avoiding what I came here to say. You see what I mean?

Enough stalling.

I struggle with anxiety and depression. It's nothing like what I once experienced, especially the depression aspect, but I deal with anxiety on a daily basis. I'm even (gasp) medicated for it (shh, don't tell anyone) (because we all know that people who have to take medication for that mental crap are nutjobs and shouldn't be trusted), because panic attacks have a nasty way of interfering with one's ability to get through the day.

I have a feeling I always will. For one, it runs in my family, on both sides. For another, studies have shown that highly intelligent women are also highly prone to anxiety, because we overthink EVERYTHING. Mother Nature giveth and she taketh away with the other hand, the stingy bitch.

Oh, and I do kind of have a stressful life, despite the many delightful compensations.

I've been struggling this week. I've been a good girl and taken my little pill every morning, and I still find myself short of breath, my arms burning, my heart racing. I haven't had a full-fledged panic attack (thank you, pharmaceuticals), but I've come close. I keep telling myself and others that I don't really have a good reason for it, but I suspect I'm lying.

I've dealt fairly well with my grandfather's death. After all, he was old and in pain and he passed so peacefully. It's the way to go, you know? BUT. He was the first of my grandparents to die. And watching my grandmother face life without her beloved...I think that struck too close to home. I can't stop thinking about what it would be like to have to keep going without MTL.

I struggled with that reality last year, when something made me realize that I had allowed MTL to get closer than anyone else in my entire life. This meant that I also had opened myself up to incredible pain, because losing him would be like losing a part of myself. I remember weeping one night and finally confessing to him that I was terrified of letting him in that much, because it meant that one day he would die and I would have to deal with that pain.

He didn't tell me I was being silly (though he would have been fully justified in doing so), rather telling me that he understood my fear, but that we couldn't allow our fear of death and losing each other prevent us from living life and loving fully.

He was right.

So I'm not falling apart over the thought now, but that fear and anxiety are finding other ways to make themselves known. And let's face it, I'm not good at dealing with this.

What do you do about your anxiety? What works? Because I'm asking for help.
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