altarflame: (deluge)
Actually I was with a wide array of people I love being with, but I didn't have any kids or a husband along. Just me in our smaller car, accumulating varied messes and then cleaning them out at a trash can every few hundred miles/couple of days.

I find myself at a place where I'm not sure I want to use real names to talk about people online anymore? That's weird. IS THIS THE END OF... whatever this is? Or, was.

For my own records, for the handful of people that are rooting for me or just clicking for content they've been skimming for years, for the couple of RL lurkers that read this instead of calling me on the phone - perpetuity:

I stopped in central Fl on day 1/my way up, to meet a guy I'd talked to a lot on fb (he's a friend of RL friends) and his girlfriend. They were both great - we went out for Indian food and it was a little like, "I don't actually know these people," but really not so bad, and then when we went back to their place there was a distinct, "I could easily have kept talking to them for many more hours" vibe. I really only eventually left when I did because it was so late and I had 2.5 more hours of driving to do that night.

Also - she is SO MUCH like my friend Kristin, and he is so like Grant in certain ways, and she and I have some fundamental stuff in common; it makes me feel like maybe there are just a few prototypes of people, like cats (white, black, ginger, calico, tabby, etc).

When I went to leave their place, I saw their cat on the roof of my car, but you know. Cats jump off. RIGHT? I didn't even think about it. I sat in my car for a few, programming the GPS and updating some people on times, and then I drove off. The whole way through town. ONTO THE HIGHWAY. I was driving on the highway for a few when I sat up straighter, adjusted my rearview mirror a bit, and spotted their damned cat on the trunk of my car. Casual, if slightly hunched, in that cat loaf position. I thought "if I just pull over, she'll immediately be ran over...but I can't leave her there!"

Anyway I made a big illegal u-turn when there was a huge gap in traffic to stop at the most secluded area possible, in case she bolted. But she just sat there on the trunk looking at me. So I put her in the car and texted them, "headed back to your place...you guys aren't going to believe this shit."

EXCEPT THEY TOTALLY DID. They were relieved she was ok and thankful I'd brought her back, but also like, "Oh yeah she does this, that's why she has a GPS collar. You've got to shove her off the roof of your car."

On my way to Tallahassee, I texted Grant and Co pics of the cat screaming at me in the car (because apparently she's just like other cats in not being into regular, inside-vehicle travel) and told them the story over speakerphone. They were dying of laughter.
IMG_1765[1]

Sooooo I stayed up a bit with Jess and Cale when I finally got to Tallahassee, but mostly was exhausted and on day 1 (uterus trying to kill me) of my period.

Bedtime was the beginning of me trying to reconcile my normal Princess and the Pea ways with travelling. Gah. I LOVE Jess and Cale, and their place is mostly awesome (decor, space, cats, food, etc), buuuuut they don't have allergies or asthma of any kind to contend with. I myself am a slob, but an allergic slob, so there are certain things that have to be in place - like no wall to wall carpet, seriously high tech vacuum, periodic intentional dusting, etc. Also they just have different cats than I'm used to? And their futon has a big bar sticking up in the middle of it. Anyway I basically tossed and turned for hours and then woke up far too early with my eyes crusted over, coughing and sneezing, each morning. By day 4 I was dizzy and light headed and tight in the chest, and had to do a lot of phone tag with pharmacies and Teledoc to eventually get an inhaler before I passed out in the middle of CVS. I've been on a steady cocktail of claritin and/or benadryl with albuterol, ever since.

I could spend the rest of my life talking to Jess, though. Two different days, we went out to coffee shops and just talked for hours while I methodically shredded my styrofoam cup. One day Cale came too, and I got a bunch of nonsense out of my purse (mushroom playing cards, tarot cards, various seashells) so everyone could fidget with things and look through stuff while we talked.

Sidenote: It's so epic that Cale is someone I get along so well with, and could easily be good friends with in his own right. It would be so different to continue on with her and our 20 year friendship, with someone I felt awkward around inserted into our visits. Even when Jess was in the hospital and rehab last year, after surgical complications, it was easy to talk to and stay with Cale just the two of us. It makes me really happy for her, that he is as good as he is.

One day the 3 of us went on an hour+ drive to Withlacoochie (really) Florida, to swim in a cold spring. We stopped in the last available store, on the way, to get some food to take - the place seriously had gallon sized cans of boiled peanuts with faded labels and rusty tops. The vending machine outside only sold Faygo (.35 cents - quarters only!). The friendly cashier had a southern accent and just a couple of teeth. It was the pinnacle of "I hear banjos, paddle faster!" and one of many times I felt like I was in not just a different city, but a different country. I feel so distinctly Cuban once I'm outside of Miami-Dade County (where I feel white).

The Springs were AMAZING. Beyond amazing. One of the most beautiful places I've ever been, and something about the cold shock of water and the physical exertion was the perfect antidote to all the driving I'd been doing, and the lack of physical affection I'd started to feel like I might shrivel up and die from.

Really - I am suddenly quantifying how touchy each of my kids are and wondering wth I'm going to DO, when they're all grown up.

The Springs were even better because we got there when it was storming, and walked through the woods in the rain, and after we waited out the park ranger's orders not to get in due to lightning, we had the place to ourselves for a bit since the park had mostly cleared out.

Eventually it was time to I-10 it over to Jacksonville for the second half of this trip. Which sounded a lot like this:



Jean-Paul is doing great on all fronts, really having a kind of all-around upswing in love, career, mental health, errythang, so that's obviously cool. He's also the best kind of host, from not caring when or how I come and go and giving me my own key, to washing my allergen-coated bedding, and frequently having cookies or (gluten free even) brownies there when I'd get back. He's a host with lots of fluffy towels, and great conversation at the end of every day.

If anyone who reads this doesn't already know, he's both my 6th grade boyfriend/long time long distance friend, and Grant's cousin. So I get to do fun stuff like list our relationship as exes and relatives, on facebook :p

He's also an IT guy, like Grant, so the guest bed was just like my own in that it was near a computer used for working from home on double monitors.

Him: I can't believe you slept through that conference call.
Me: You have no idea.

Jacksonville is a sprawling place that's woven it's way through various parts of my life. I lived in a huge, dilapidated, old house in "historic" San Marco when I was 10-11, until we were evicted. Then I lived in a tiny, dilapidated, old trailer in Sin City, until we were evicted, and then turned 12 living in a roadside motel on Phillips Highway. There was a westside trailer's spare room and a beach apartment's couch in there, somewhere. When I was 19 or 20, Bobby and I moved up there with baby Annie and newborn Aaron and lived for a few difficult months with my mom in Mayport, before getting a nice house in Mandarin that was working out well, aside from the whole "second trimester miscarriage/fetus buried in the backyard" ordeal, until that whole relationship blew up.

The point is that Jacksonville in it's entirety is like a mesh patchwork of different kinds of mixed nostalgia. I generally avoid chasing ghosts when I'm there, but I decided for some reason to go find the two story house (from when I was 10-11). The path Laura and I used to walk to our bus stop is blocked now, so you have to go a few blocks out of your way to continue down the street the house is on. It looks the same, when you get there. Who cares, right? Except apparently I do, because I went and wrote a freakin' 4+ page long poem about this fucking house.

On that note - I used to say I felt six deep down inside, and weird little anecdotes about things that happened when I was 6 would come out in my (fictional) writing. My most private inner self, was the me that laid awake night after night in bed with Laura sleeping nearby, eavesdropping and making up stories about fairies.

At some point that changed, though, and for the past few years if I were to be so silly as to talk about my "inner child," I'd have listed her as being 9. The me that lived in LuMar apartments and read Stephen King books I didn't quite understand all of, and had a baby brother, and a big imaginary world behind a closed bedroom door. "Recently molested, still happiest at Nana and Pa's house" Tina has been who I am under the exterior.

Well, during this trip I realized that's not really the case anymore. My deep down, vulnerable, kid self has somehow evolved into the 11 year old hiding behind a building when the school bus came, and then spending the day sticking my feet in a fountain and stealing books from the library. Down a few layers I'm now that me, simultaneously venturing out into the world and also extremely isolated. Menstruating and starting to think obsessively about sex, and crushed that my sister is moving away.

I don't expect this to exactly make sense. I realize it sounds pretty kooky. But I think it's interesting, anyway, that it isn't (as I once thought, in my mid-twenties) that a part of me is just gonna be 6 forever. Apparently that formative, private, underneath part of me is growing older, too, albeit much slower than the rest of me and for reasons I don't fully (consciously?) understand.

After I spent the whole afternoon in a coffee shop full of man buns, writing and editing this poem and talking to a woman nearby about Pokemon, and feeling sick, I went out to dinner with Kristin! And heard all about her recent adventures in Micronesia, and laughed about god knows what. Definitely the best part of the day. We took a horrible selfie that screams her jet lag and my allergy and asthma troubles.

The next day, I drove back down to central Florida to hang out with the new guy again. Girlfriend was at work. We went and swam in one of his friend's pool, and ate mangoes and played music, for hours, and told each other a bunch of shit about our lives. Then when she was off work, we met his girlfriend for Korean barbecue, the highlight of which is that he apparently walked in and claimed someone else's reservation. He said this was a panic reaction, and it caused a lot of laughter when the waiter approached us with the party whose reservation it actually was. Seems relevant that our group and theirs were literally the only people in the place, so it's not like anyone was getting turned away.

IMG_1871[1]

I spent a whole day with Kristin, her sister (who I've met several times), her mom (who I've hung out with lots), and her kids (who my own consider family). I adore all of them, individually and as a group. Sent plenty of pics back to my house. We walked up to a brunch place and then hung around sister's apartment until she had to go to work. Then Kristin and I drove down to St Augustine, where her fiance/love of her life was finishing up with his conference for the day and becoming available.

Man oh man. One, much as I love them all, just her (or her and her guy) is better. Two, we went to the most off the hook AMAZING restaurant (The Black Fly, on Anastasia Island). The three of us split three dinners and three desserts. Luscious crab cakes. Blissful scallops. Mushroom medley in puff pastry. Chocolate mousse cake with hazelnuts, coconut lime creme brulee, and bourbon pecan ice cream. Every single bite was moaning and heaven. They're grossly in love and infectious in their happiness. And, since he hasn't heard them all before, we get to tell him all of our old stories :D

IMG_1892[1] IMG_1888[1]

We went back to their hotel and swam in their warm, salty pool, which was hilariously close to frequently passing freight trains. Lots of laughing, and everyone finding my hairs wrapped around them (which was an ongoing theme of the whole trip... it's almost as though I was on a mission to clog every shower in Florida). She's a bug scientist and he studies mangrove conditions around the world, so nothing I have to say about plants will ever seem inconsequential to either of them. Yet we can also be aghast together about tumblr porn that involves eyeballs being pushed out of assholes. THE BEST KIND OF PEOPLE, I TELL YOU.

I went back through central Florida on the way home, specifically stopping in to spend an hour with this guy I only met this trip. It was an interesting conversation on a couch, and then I gave him a ride to work. He (like Cale, and Jean-Paul, and practically every other man I ever talk to apparently?) is an IT guy, and was tense about a problem he was having trouble solving at this new job. I was like, well, you sound like Charlie Brown's parents to me, buuuuut I'm willing to bet I know someone who can help with that issue. So Grant and him skyped through it.

IT guys are interesting, and a bunch of the ones I know don't really identify as IT guys. Cale was going to be an attorney and this is just a way to pay the bills, Grant would rather see himself as a photographer or dad, this other guy would rather be around kids and has worked with kids at times. Jean-Paul is adamant that work doesn't define people and anti-capitalism in general. Like even when they make a ton of money (which is frequently the case) and enjoy their jobs, there's still this vague unease at being seen AS that job, which I suspect is partially because none of them seem to consciously choose it. It's a whole generational phenomenon where smart underachievers stayed up on computers instead of doing their homework, and missed a lot of high school/dropped out entirely, and then that somehow turned out to give them a super profitable skill set.

Back to my timeline here, my last stop was to see Samara, Bobby's wife (who I think is the bee's knees), about my allergies and general malaise. She sells and markets and graphic designs for some pretty natural and well planned out supplements, and I have been dead against hearing about them (or any other direct sales) before. But I basically walked in and said, "Clearly I need help. I am now ready to receive your wisdom." She's got grace for days so this was actually not awkward, and involved laughter and hugs as I told her about the Herbal Conference I went to in February, and how I stopped eating grains for months but just cheated a ton while travelling, and don't know if I can cut sugar at all, and so on... she's the most calming presence. I don't even know how to describe her energy.

I even had a long, civil conversation with Bobby before I finally headed out towards home o_O


So here I am. It's been a restorative sort of weekend featuring lots and lots of sleeping in my LUSCIOUS KING SIZED BED, lots of showing my kids pictures, and cuddle piles, and just a few occasions of venturing out with a couple of them at a time. Aaron, Jake, Elise and I went to a cafe and down to the ocean to look at jellyfish, yesterday. Later I'm probably taking some people to see The Secret Life of Pets. I arrived home broken out, with canker sores in my mouth, tired like I haven't been since I had babies and still reliant on a couple of meds - so while I really did have a great time, it was good to get back to my nest. Definitely gonna be brainstorming ways to make future travel less physically stressful. When I went to Lakeland a few weeks back to visit my grandparents and other family, it was sort of perfect because I stayed at my friend Cindi's place (which is far cleaner than my own, and pet free) where I had my own room with a good bed, and limitless access to a bathroom nobody else was waiting on. Obviously it's not reasonable to expect everyone I know to be able to provide that kind of guest space :p I wonder how much of my trouble was about NOT bringing all my normal supplements with me (because they're for the whole family, some require refrigeration, etc). I usually take a LOT of shit every day, and strongly suspect I'm counteracting some malabsorption issues that way. I'm also kinda flabbergasted by how cavalier other people my age act about chronic extreme sleep deprivation? Jean-Paul acts like that's just "being an adult," and even Jess and Cale "can't sleep past 9am" (even if we're staying up talking til 3-4am?!). Kristin is basically ideologically opposed to naps. I'm just like, guys. GUYS! SLEEP IS A WELLSPRING OF GOODNESS AND LIGHT!




I also got back to the news that I'm getting a $5,000 grant I hadn't counted on, for this first upcoming year of grad school! I have a mandatory orientation for that next month, and I'm getting pumped about the whole situation. I met with my advisor and got my schedule sorted out a few weeks ago. Also exciting that the average age of FIU grad students is 31, so hopefully I can actually make some friends other than the teachers.

Not ready to let go of summer yet, though... bookstores are throwing Harry Potter parties; Grant, me, and Ananda are going to NYC next month. And, Kristin is coming here for a couple of days. I am failing abysmally at prioritizing book writing. Today I had to make a million appointments, take Isaac to counseling, drive Elise to and from camp, wash a mountain of dishes, cook us all dinner, and more. It took me 3 days to write this entry! This weekend seemed promising, but someone wants to come over, and I've been asked if I can cover some hours at the crisis call center.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯
altarflame: (deluge)
feel free to click here for a weeks old entry I forgot about )

(and/)Or, find out how not long after that entry I felt pretty triggered (haha, how ironic).
That led to some serious two steps forward, one step back personal struggles (challenges? INSURMOUNTABLE BARRIERS I'VE SINCE BEEN CHINKING AWAY AT ONE CRUMB AT A TIME?!) with polyamory, as polyamory in general - even in it's infancy - has a way of highlighting every single thing you didn't know you were avoiding dealing with at once. I'm very fortunate to be so deep in a bond that allows for sharing everything patiently, even when that involves stop and starts, and backtracking... Even if we never acted on any of this we know each other so much better, now, and I feel so much closer to him. Paradoxical, I guess, but getting to the "why" underneath every scared and sad feeling is something that's taking us places we might never have gone otherwise. I feel like I'm going to understand life differently and have a different attitude as I get older, because I'm tackling this deep shit inside of me that I've never looked straight at or felt so directly and consciously, before...
I am also pleased to report I can once again take an IQ test without any sense of personal tragedy.

Here are some pics of me and Elise around our neighborhood one weeknight, and some others from a tour G and I took of R.F. Orchids last weekend.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

TL;DR - I am on a general broad upswing that involves some hard times and is not a simple curve. I travel this path with a bunch of other people who are also all on varying and irregular (usually) upward slopes. I feel good about life, and also get tired.

I will probably make a way shorter update soon, about apps I'm using and things I've recently cooked. Take heart, if this is just too damned long and convoluted and TMI.

Days 7-10

Jun. 16th, 2015 02:17 pm
altarflame: (deluge)
I can't *really* update 4 days worth at the moment, but I'm not forgetting about the challenge, either. My life will be really different after Thursday, when I have my big scary Stats II final exam. Neuropsychology has been hard in a good way, like "I can do this!" and "Man, I love this material, challenging though it may be!" I'm fairly confident in my A, there. Stats II has been a lot of FORCING myself to study, realizing my mind has wandered, bringing it back, getting really upset, calming myself down, realizing I'm distracted, taking a deep breath... I have to google dozens of foundational knowledge bits to solve any given problem, partially because my math education thus far has been really lacking and partially because I just don't retain math related things. At all. I do not understand this, I've forgotten things from the beginning of this course already (things that I felt I'd mastered a month ago look brand new again). It's so discouraging and overwhelming.

Before I can tackle a 6 part problem that needs two pages of scrap paper, I have to google embarrassing shit like, "What is the little squiggly line, in math?" and "Which is the y axis and which is the x axis?" But like, heaps and heaps of those sorts of things... I'm constantly referencing back to a guide to basic stats symbol meanings and searching YouTube for how to make my calculator do this or that, both of which I should clearly not need anymore. Then, I watch 3 Kahn Academy videos, just to get to the Stats II part of it and actually begin the problem at hand. And there are hundreds of such recommended problems I'm supposed to work through, to prepare for the final. I actually feel I'm beyond the help of a tutor, or at least the sort of free tutors the school employs. I am going to take advantage of some of my professors extra hours today and tomorrow but obviously he can't spend the ENTIRE TIME coddling me alone - he generally responds to the sort of things I'm needing to ask with answers like, "you shouldn't be in this class."

Most people in this class took Stats I last semester, with the first half of this book we're currently using the 2nd half of. I took Stats I 3 years ago at the community college, with an adjunct teacher who was fired at the end of our semester (we all took our final in the math department, proctored by an administrator).

I've had a painfully upset stomach for like a week straight, and even nightmares. I think it's just a lot of pressure, as I know this is the one real hurdle in the way of me achieving a lot of stuff I want to achieve that impacts the course of my life. And, I apparently viciously loathe actual mental struggle. Enough to hopefully check the National Hurricane Center to see if maybe, just maybe, the university will be CLOSED when I'm scheduled to take my final, so I'll have extra study time?! I actually asked myself if I'm somehow self sabotaging my own ability to get it, or if I have a real mental problem here, or I'm just a damned idiot. Is this lingering brain fog from pernicious anemia? Am I already getting old? Good lord!

So yeah, that and gallivanting around the state is where I've been. The gallivanting has involved a lot of this same sort of cyclical study shit as described above, but in random Starbucks locations in far flung cities, and with additional stress because it's too much to add to a roadtrip I should have just declined to be a part of.



Because Tumblr makes posting pics directly from my phone SO EASY, I do that a lot.

This is me after staying up most of the night, last week, before Stats II Exam 3:
http://altarflame.tumblr.com/post/121279377012

This is a brief synopsis of our trip up to the greater Tampa area, this past weekend:
http://altarflame.tumblr.com/post/121623492042/some-highlights-from-our-weekend-thats-my-mama

While we were there, I got to spend an evening with an old friend:
http://altarflame.tumblr.com/post/121676806787/this-is-one-of-my-oldest-friends-who-i-met-when

And, A&A were part of a (roller derby) banked track boot camp that was pretty sweet. My mother stayed with them:
http://altarflame.tumblr.com/post/121602413147/my-oldest-children-at-the-slayground-for-a-banked
altarflame: (deluge)
In the meantime, here is a new Soundcloud update, if you're into that sort of thing. I'm mostly talking about my Nana, our van and a silent auction.

Nana, the Van, Silent Auction at Driving, driving, driving by altarflame

It's personal and potentially boring. I also have another one about self worth, on tumblr.
altarflame: (deluge)
It's starting to rain again. There are some real issues this brings up for us - the van has a leak, and the deck needs to be resurfaced kinda badly, and those things are easy to ignore during the half of the year when it never rains, but are gonna become mega issues soon if we don't attend to them. And, with rain comes mosquitoes.

Still...I love it, and am eager for storms.




Every single day, I go to the FIU website and search for available Stats II and Botany 1010 courses for the fall that may have opened up, and I go to my FIU email to see if my disability appeals have been approved. This has been going on for approximately 2 weeks now, as part of my morning and evening routines. So far I've received a maddening email about the appeals, stating that they've been received and are being processed, which will take up to 6-8 more weeks - and I've gotten into a Stats II class that is with a teacher that is rated terribly on ratemyprofessors.com ...I don't really expect any resolution of these issues anytime soon, I just know from past semesters that Constant Vigilance is the only way to get into certain classes. I will lurk, and lunge when appropriate.




Today marks the end of a couple of ongoing situations I'm glad to be done with. First, I actually have the van back, running. Eleven days in the shop, DOZENS of phone calls and one reasonably entertaining shuttle ride up to the dealer later, it turns out to have been the computer system they just replaced having gone bad again - maybe because it was a bad computer, maybe because we had a wire shorted out in the dash. It was covered by warranty.

Second situation, there is this puppy that showed up on our front porch last Friday. She was clean, clearly used to attention/affection, adorable, had no collar, and refused to leave. We played with her in the yard in full view of the street for hours, until dark, and I expected every car that pulled up to our corner and every person who walked by to stop and say, "there she is, that's my dog!" but...nobody did. I called around and borrowed a crate she could spend the night in, and posted about her on a local rescue's facebook page as a lost dog (nothing). We took her, Saturday morning, to an animal hospital to be scanned for a microchip (nothing) and to look for lost dogs they have notices about (nothing). Around Saturday afternoon, I started to panic a little, because really, we are at capacity around here and I don't have room for puppy training or dog ownership in my life. Or budget. Or yards. But I didn't want to just call animal control, as they were clear that they only give a few days for adoption or claiming before they kill the dogs they take in.

We considered fostering her for the rescue organization, as that's something they encourage and help people with, but she destroyed one of my plants and a toy of Elise's inside an hour that involved all of us home and attempting to watch her... and we're gone so much! Grant and I both also got really sick of cleaning pee/poop up really quickly. More importantly, in addition to the cats being violently opposed, Isaac is TERRIFIED of her (for his own anti-dog reasons; she is not mean, but her normal puppy behavior of jumping and chasing is panic inducing for him). He even came in our bed last night saying he had a nightmare that the dog was attacking him :/ I mean Isaac has a long history of bad dreams about all manner of things, but, I feel really bad for how stressed it's been making him. Relegated to the yard, she's been going from terrorizing the chickens to finding a dead rat under the deck and dragging it up to our doors, when she isn't digging up my new planter full of flowers. It's beyond "not cute" and into DEAR GOD MAN. I am clearly spoiled on the low maintenance of cats.

ANYWAY finally, today, after a LOT of back and forth texting with people I know who are deeply involved with the rescue, they've got an opening at a no-kill shelter for her. It's a long drive but I'm ok with that at this point. Jake's in love with her and would be all about keeping her forever - he's going to be the one person who really misses her like crazy, but at least I can tell him she's going somewhere safe, now.




In addition to getting the van in and the dog out, today, and continuing my vigil at the FIU sites, I walked Isaac to school (which is worth 4 Weight Watchers Activity Points), fried a lot of eggs, made some milkshakes, made tacos, and baked some lemon syrup loaf cakes - that's a Nigella recipe that is a regular, around here. I am trying cold brewing coffee here myself for the first time, and will see how it's turned out tomorrow. I also washed seven hundred million dishes, and continued forcing leading my kids in cleaning their rooms out and organizing them thoroughly, since we have a realtor coming sometime in the next week to tell us what he thinks we could get if we decided to sell the house. I don't know that we are going to sell the house, but he seems like a decent guy who answers our questions quickly and thoroughly so I'm interested in what he has to say. There are a lot of factors that make me think our Zestimate is probably inaccurate. I read another chapter to Jake and Elise. Aaaaand I worked on the budget for a little while.

Overall I'm sort of confused that it all sounds so good "on paper," since I spent the majority of the entire day loafing around (napping, fantasizing, internet), and the majority of the night...loafing around (shows with Grant and later Annie).

I've been doing entirely too much loafing around, in general. Something about my school semester ending and a lot of my kids' activities wrapping up for the school year, along with restricted transportation, has left me feeling like I'm floating along in some vague and timeless way. Everything from the past couple of weeks kind of blurs together, with little standout times - like when Gloria brought James over so they could use our kitchen all day to bake for a fundraiser, and Elise's birthday, and this neato hour long phone call with someone whose voice I hadn't heard in a decade. I mailed a card to my Nana and a letter to my mom, for Mother's Day? I've planted a LOT of seeds and some other stuff. Pruned and watered a ton. Isaac's talent show at school went REALLY well, and we finished reading Goblet of Fire, which he loved, so he got to watch that movie. Overall I just feel really....vague and timeless.

I made a friend (GMYS parent) who is also a nursery inspector, and gifted me some hibiscus. Between him and his family, and this cool chick (and her family) who runs what was Elise's preschool that I have ran into here and there over the years but am now planning to have over for dinner, it seems like I might have real prospects for new local friends. I was starting to think that was impossible, that I had exhausted my town's possibilities or something.

I am really, really excited that new episodes of Louie are happening.




Grant was in Missouri last week, for work. When I picked him up, Friday, I don't know what clicked into place but we had the craziest nonstop ultra hot sex weekend ever. I spent all of Monday somewhat sore and goofy-happy, after a night I think I grinned through in my sleep (Happy Mother's Day to meeeee). We're doing a lot of emotional evening cuddling and ooey gooey afternoon texting, this week.




I've lost 18 pounds, now. It's feeling very doable and real.

I've had some interesting little things happen, with my book - a small bookstore owner took a couple of copies earmarked for particular readers to read, review and bring back, so that she can move on to more and more handpicked regular customers with the same copies...she's just doing it because she believes in local authors, which I thought was pretty great. Then the other day I realized I have list additions, ratings and reviews on Goodreads - I had no idea :)

I've also made a lot of use of tumblr for personal posts lately, particularly picture posts, since it's so easy to make them directly from my phone with one step.
altarflame: (deluge)
I'm up too late, baking Easter cupcakes. Note that carrot cake batter becomes far more delicious when you use coconut oil instead of canola or vegetable or what have you. I can't vouch for the cupcakes themselves at this point, but the batter is on point.

I've had a never ending series of miscommunications, lately, IRL and online. I feel like I've probably hurt or offended way too many people, and in every situation I wish I could just go back to the beginning and not say anything. I kind of want to curl up under a blanket and just stay there, dozing, for a couple of weeks. I have a semi-constant urge to telepathically communicate to those around me that I love them and would just like to cuddle wordlessly, please. Unfortunately, when not speaking, I am just seeming grumpy and irritable in a way that can be taken personally.

Because it's something to do, and it makes me somewhat happy to think about: lists...

Easter stuff for everyone: carrot cupcakes, dozens of white eggs, dyeing kits and subsequent hunting, a biggish chocolate bunny apiece, Cadbury creme eggs for everyone but Isaac - who has a different sort of treat I'd never seen before (without corn), and Lindt springtime chocolate...things. Also rainbow goldfish boxes for the little kids, and chocolate graham goldfish for the big ones. Then they have some little separate nonsense - Lisa Frank stickers for Elise, tiny stuffed animals Jake's been begging for every time we're at BJ's, book of word searches for Isaac, new tiny desk bamboo for Aaron, and more (skate reinforcement) duct tape, for Annie.

They're excited. One of the most exciting parts, for me, is that ALL of Ananda's normal Sunday activities are cancelled. That, I can celebrate.

My facebook wall is RIDICULOUS, and has been all week. For the most part, I have four groups of people:

-Catholic and Orthodox folks who are constantly posting meditations on scripture, pictures of Masses and Liturgies, quotes in Greek and Latin, really elaborate stuff like specially embroidered clothes and symbolic baking for children at midnight services where everyone holds candles...
-Laughing atheists who are constantly posting things about "Zombie Jesus," jokes about Easter being on 4/20 this year (mostly referencing "the most high,") and other stuff that I know would not strike anyone in the first group as funny.
-Pissed off Pagans with infographics and memes re: Christians co-opting all of their holidays, ancient Egyptian roots of parallel stories, etc etc
-Jews debating the necessity and/or elaborateness of their secular observance of a "traditional American holiday."

It's a lot of scrollin' on by, for me, and I feel about as averse to Facebook as I did during the last election.

Additional list: Elise's birthday. It's only 10 days away! My youngest, my fifth child, is turning 7 years old.

Plans:
-high tea at the Biltmore (she's been flipping about this, and changing her mind daily about which dress to wear, since January...)
-some kind of birthday cake that involves these little chocolate stars I bought from Marshall's in December, on top

Presents:
-sheet set for her bed - she will be very pleased about this, she's been using a top sheet as a fitted and complaining constantly
-funky journal I found for her months ago
-The Blue Fairy Book
-one of those big balls with a handle, that you sit on and bounce
-giant felt board with a beach and under water scene on it, and a bajillion little felt pieces to stick on the scene. She used to have a small one with just a few pieces when she was younger that was one of her favorite toys.
-Rainbow Dash tshirt
-couple of pairs of shorts
-a used bike from the flea market, that we're going to take her with us to pick out.

She was so happy at the end of her GS Science Camp day, Friday. I asked her if she had fun, after I signed her out, and she said, "No....I had SUPER FUN!!!" and then prattled on about it the whole way home.


I found out last week that her and Jake got into Isaac's charter school. That means that, at least initially for a trial period, ALL FIVE of my kids are going to school. I'm still trying to digest this idea. Mostly, what to do with ALL THAT CHILDLESS TIME? On the one hand I feel like I have to take 6 classes and get a part time job - on the other, I think that it won't really be all that much time, between drop offs and pick ups if I just keeping going to school twice a week like I do now. I could use the other 3 days for things like grocery shopping, my counseling and shot appts, exercising (then NONE of that would take away from "family time"), chaperoning/volunteering for classrooms and trips, and actually keeping the house clean. (<--super weird idea) I mean, all of that could eat up the 18 "free" hours per week pretty easily.

What I most want to do with the time (around college) is write, and that was Grant's first suggestion, too. I probably will. It's strange how scary and selfish it feels to really take chunks of time for that. Also exciting and wonderful, though.

While it's certainly possible that any of my kids could have issues in school, I think Ananda and Jake will do really really well from the get go. Isaac has adapted and we already know the good way outweighs any bad, for him. Aaron I think could go either way, and it's based on how he reacts to the situation - will the structure and consistency make up for the extra demands and stimulation? We'll see. For Elise, I think it's all about what teacher(s) she gets. My current plan is that barring some sort of truly horrific and unlikely shit, everybody has to really try it out and give it a chance until Christmas break - then, we can talk about options if someone(s) is unhappy in a lasting way.

As it stands, everybody is pretty pumped. Ananda and Aaron auditioned for the arts charter of their own free will and I sat down with Jake and Elise to talk about whether to put them on the list for Isaac's school, and both of them really wanted me to. They were thrilled when I told them they got in. We'll see what happens once they're dealing with tests and grades and getting up earlier day after day. I would really like it to work for them.


Well, the cupcakes are done, and I've ranted on tumblr about how NO DAMMIT MONEY REALLY DOES NOT BUY HAPPINESS IT IS NOT JUST "PRIVILEGE" TALKING TO SAY THAT (probably invoking more misunderstandings and eventually wishing I'd just never said anything...) Off to bed, with me...
altarflame: (deluge)
How my kids spent most of the evening:


These three watched Toy Story 3 in a heap in this round thing while the couch sat nearby, empty.


And these two played Magic: The Gathering as they have all day long, excepting meals and chores. Now that Jake can read well enough to keep up with him, Isaac never has to try to trail after the oldest kids begging for a partner.

In between online tests and making dinner, I got on skype behind a locked door with a woman who has a YouTube channel and soon-to-be podcast of authors reading their stories. Normally, the stories are lesbian erotica. For Halloween, she's doing a horror special, of which I am a part. <--These are the kind of gigs my publisher lands me, no doubt partially because my editor is a LAMDA recognized, multiple award winning author of...lesbian erotica. She also writes full-time for the (Miami) New Times, which means lots and lots of free food and events for her, and sometimes, Grant and I. He is more impressed with VIP passes and the like than I am, but it's nice.

I felt grateful for aaaaaaall the hours I log regularly, reading aloud. It was fun. I'll post a link when there is one.




It's so important to me to protect quiet time with my kids, and unstructured time, and time to talk. We have so many things happening these days, and it can be really challenging. I spend 30 minutes in bed with Isaac EVERY single week night, no matter what, talking and reading to him regardless of how late it gets or how tired I am - because he goes to school all day every day, and thus misses SO MANY "moments" I automatically get with the others...even if they are only Monday, Wednesday and Friday (the school days when I am not in school). I say, "yes, of course" when Jake asks to go around the side of library and look at a spider web as we're leaving, even when I really, really don't want to. I sit in the dark of the tv room listening to Aaron play piano, for long minutes, and tell him how great he is. But it's hard! I'm always saying things like, "Elise, what if you come with me to BJ's, just you and I, to shop?" and trying to milk the ride to cello class or derby practice for all the catching up I can with Ananda. I don't ever want our interactions to be dominated by me assigning school work or asking why x, y or z isn't done.

I think we're still doing pretty damn well. I'm just also aware of how easy it would be, to not be.




Amanda Palmer reblogged my post about the concert, with commentary. Just sayin' :)
altarflame: (deluge)
-Got a credit card for the first time in over a decade, now that a lot of very old shit is off my credit and I can do that.

-Ordered a dress I've lusted over for months, that was suddenly marked down to clearance, i.e. half price (not with the credit card...reverse order and within budget).

-Did about 3 hours of homework, at Starbucks.

-Two hours at home, too...5 classes and all that.

-Went and had thai food with my kids, Gloria, and LJ, after a fortuituous budgeting error in our favor was reconciled.

-Bled way too much, took a very long nap, drank lots of clorophyll, ate a fine ass grilled steak and lots and lots of green veggies in the name of not dying re: anemia.

-Learned the basics about Syria and what the hell is going on over there.

-Went to a park with my sister and her kids, and a couple of mine, for a walkabout, animal-feeding sort of playdate...too many cramps, but the rain was pretty.

-Programmed a million dates into my phone, re: dance carpool, dentist appointments, GMYS, derby practices, my classes, etc.

-Watched the first episode of "Orange is the New Black," with Grant (2nd forthcoming).

-Felt way too lonely and weirdly isolated in my day to day life.

-Had some regenerative and fucking amazing sex.

-Clipped coupons and grocery shopped.



That is all I have time to remember. I really love those of you who continue to hang onto LJ as a sharing medium :) The ones on my friends page, and the ones coming and reading. I like that this still exists <3

tl;dr

Jul. 27th, 2013 02:36 am
altarflame: (deluge)
I'm so glad it's the weekend.

I hate waking up in the mornings, and it's been clear for the last couple of years that there is no (weekday) end in sight for as long as I have kids in the house. I am consciously setting up my future so that I can stay up at late as I want and totally avoid mornings, and that is not a joke. My ideal would be to see people for counseling/do a late shift in a mental health facility/teach classes, in the afternoons and evenings, and write at night. I have a personal life goal of not seeing 7 am for an entire decade.

For the last couple of weeks (summer schedule has been constantly in flux), my morning routine has been this nonsense involving waking Aaron up at 7:30, waking Isaac, Jake and Elise up at 8, getting Aaron to a carpooling point in town for his ride by 8:30, and having the little kids to music camp by 9. Somewhere in there I cook and serve some kind of breakfast and pack 4 lunches, and try to give out a lot of hugs and make sure nobody is forgetting anything. Then I come home and wake up Annie, have breakfast with her, and we talk about things she's supposed to get done that day. M, W and F I'm here with her. Tuesday and Thursday I go to college all day, and Grant is here working from home. College feels like a lot at the moment, because I had multiple papers due this week, am participating in a couple of research studies for extra credit, and next week is finals.

I'm also sick with something minor that involves a cough, which has made my coffee reliance reach new heights. The other day Grant laughed when he saw my huge mug and asked if I'm drinking from punch bowls, now.

The revamp of Annie's privileges and guidelines and all, that I mentioned a couple of entries back, is going pretty well. She's burning through a lot more math and science than usual, anyway. Monday when she was done with chores and regular assignments, we watched Slumdog Millionaire together, pausing periodically to convert rupees to dollars on my phone or explain some concept like what the Taj Mahal is. She loved it. It's the sort of thing I can only do when Aaron's out of the house because I am not ready to field the months of woe and sleeplessness when he finds out there are little kids living in trash piles and being purposely disfigured so that they can get more change from tourists :/ We also listened to and read this story on NPR about people in slums using Google Maps to make others aware of the realities of slums, and sometimes advocate for change.

I get really frustrated with how quick Annie is to just do nothing, if people are not on her to do shit, and also how quick she is to do things she is not supposed to, if for one damn minute we are not leaping to capital-C Consequences. She's already got that adolescent dichotomy down pat, where kids are uber helpful and proactive and resourceful OUT of the house but act like butt nuggets for their parents. At Girl Scout camp, she was stacking chairs and sweeping floors and helping little kids with crafts and singalongs all day every day. At derby she does anything Chuck and Vee (coaches) tell her to, for hours of sweaty, bruising relentlessness. This is the case with PATH enrichment classes and cello rehearsals - she is interested in all kinds of volunteer jobs, too. At home, she wants to do nothing.

This is actually one of my biggest areas of skepticism surrounding homeschool; the teenage battle between the adult self (that tends to come out in the world) and the baby self (that tends to dominate at home) really makes me want to drop her off with some other adults she'll be more eager to impress, more often. I hate hawk-watching and I hate nagging, a lot, as a parent. I mean all the kids to some degree try to get away with stuff that is not really ok if they can, but I think it seems more irritating with Ananda because she is so intelligent and well spoken that it seems avoidable (and intentional), in her case. It's also amped up significantly in the last 6 months, like ANYTHING she can manage to do - watching the next episode of a show she's into without asking or me seeming to notice, for instance, leads within one week to me realizing she's streaming whole seasons all day every day, and then trying to play dumb like, "What? You said this show is ok for me to watch" when I question it.

It can be (to me) surprisingly hard to really draw a line in the sand. She is such a whole and complex person, standing there my same height, and we'll have been getting along great and she's so obviously distressed and distant and resentful when I force issues ("you have to ask to watch a show or movie so that I know you have all your chores and schoolwork done first and aren't turning into a mold-covered sloth, this is your warning that the next time it happens without asking your laptop is going in my closet for a week, blah blah blah"). I do it anyway, obviously, it can just blow as much for me as it does for her. Wednesday we had already taken so many things away to get her schoolwork back where it belongs, and her screen time under control, and then I was at this loss when it was DAY TWO of her "putting away the laundry", and hours in, after 3 warnings she was still just sitting out there trying to watch her brothers play or talk to Elise or look at a book or anything but actually sort the piles of clothes she was surrounded by. I had to have her put her phone in my bedroom for the next 24 hours AND threaten that she was not going to be going to meet her friends for lunch like she'd planned, if it wasn't done before a set timer went off, before she would even sigh and get on with it.

I feel like I need a giant spatula to slip under her and flip her onto her damned feet, sometimes.

She made me laugh so hard, the other afternoon. Aaron thought one of our chickens looked sick or something, and she (the hen) was looking kind of bad, but I thought she might be hot and we misted them all with water. I said, "Maybe she has some problem she was born with that we can't help, Aaron, or maybe she ate some bad bugs or developed an issue or who knows..." and Annie said, "Or maybe she's a chicken, and so she just drops dead randomly." I laughed SO hard. It's horrible, I know, but every chicken owner I know has the same issues (any random stray dog or cat or bird of prey or raccoon or ANYTHING wants to eat them, they are so stupid and try to run away from home often, if you don't dip baby chicks' beaks into any new water dish to show them the water they will just dehydrate, sometimes one suddenly kills another one - it's crazy). Aaron was scandalized, and she was like, "Aaron when we went to the feed store looking at chicks we saw a breed you HAVE to kill before it grows up, because they're bred to get so fat that their legs cannot support their weight by the time they're grown." Which is true, and also (really) horrible. I don't know, man.

Her lunch out with people was great. She has amazing friends that I really like and feel good about. I was thinking how fortunate she seems to have found such great WAY OLDER kids, since way older tend to be the only ones she relates to and acts comfortable with. This "lunch followed by pet store followed by Izzy's house" afternoon really underscores this - it was Francois and Izzy (siblings, 18 and 15), Joe (18), Mia (18) - and Annie (13. Barely). They are all teenagers we've known for at least a couple of years, and Izzy is the one in the group that Annie is closest with, but. I dunno. The age gap is going to start to close in the coming years because all the oldest TLC kids are going away to college. Her derby team is all 11-16 year olds, and she tends to hang out with a 10 year old at GMYS. *shrug*

I love that those 18 year olds, and the others she knows, have to study and go to class all the time because they're all in dual enrollment. Most of them also either work or volunteer. Because they're cool people she wants to be like, it's great motivating stuff when we talk about how important it is for her to get used to studying, more assignments, etc NOW.

She totally flipped tonight because we were talking about how she's going into the 8th grade this year, meaning she'll be (in her words) IN HIGH SCHOOL NEXT YEAR. She was slightly disturbed, I think :p




I'm super fucking over our van at the moment, since the AC up front is broken - it works in the back, so the kids have AC, so we've never prioritized fixing it like we would if they were suffering. No, it's just us sweltering in the front on our own (and the smaller car has good AC), so we deal since there's always something we'd rather spend that couple hundred bucks on. There have been way too many times I find myself ripping my wind-tangled hair out brushing it or changing gross clothes as soon as I walk in the door, after being on the highway. It keeps being 97 degrees in the afternoons. The worst is when the pressure and humidity hit their peaks just before it rains. UGH. It's like being squeezed through some kind of vice, and then on the other side when it starts to pour we lose about 20 degrees in just a few minutes.

I took Ananda and Aaron to a new antique store that was pretty great, this afternoon. Here's a tumblr picture entry about it.

I've been thinking a lot about charity we can get involved with as a family, today. Over the last few months I've heard (directly and indirectly) about childhood hunger in our county several times - basically, lots of kids are ONLY reliably eating free breakfast and lunch, at school, and/or their families struggle big time with bills during summer vacation because they have to buy those additional meals. This is something that I'm trying to address with as much sensitivity as possible, with the little kids, since they are having recurring issues with other kids begging for snacks out of their packed lunches at music camp (which also has a free lunch option for people who qualify, that about half the kids there are using). Isaac and Elise both also felt bad for kids who didn't have snacks for snack time in school, last year, and would sometimes take extra for friends. Obviously I cannot always afford to feed every kid in town, but the newspaper ran something not long ago with a long list of food distributors and I think I'm going to call around and see what is needed and how I can include the kids in helping to fill some of those gaps. For now I am proud of them for no longer complaining about being sick of clementines and pistachios and granola bars, and probably giving in more than I really should when they ask to take extra for other people.




I've been having this wack existential crisis bullshit. I don't know what my deal is, but I lie down in bed at night and just get so crushingly sad and feel so freaked out, thinking of how each of my kids are mortal and every single person I know is going to die eventually, and...it's terrible. I move away from Grant's body, imagining it rotting one day, as it is really going to. It's terrible! I can have a great day and still end up reading myself to sleep after I stop crying, just to distract me. On the one hand I think I'm crazy, and on the other hand I think we're all crazy, like - HOW is it that EVERYONE isn't ALWAYS having a crisis about the fact that we're all going to die?! And it can happen anytime?! I understand that it's not productive, but not how we don't do it regardless.

I think the biggest reason I am an Anne Rice fan is that Lestat, one of her most ongoing and recurring characters, had this huge mortality freakout while he was still human that perfectly captured the fears and feelings and melodramatic poetry I already had, then (at 15ish) about time, and death, and impermanence, and...it's like a swelling, desperate longing in the background and a cresting panic in the foreground, all silent in your brain as everything goes on as usual around you, until the sight of a lone tree in a field makes you burst into tears and you don't even know why.

Ananda, for instance, was a baby. A little baby. The other night I laid down with Elise on her bed in their room for awhile, because she wanted me to, and just lying in that very teenage bedroom that Ananda has completely taken dictatorship over - dim with the shifting light of a lava lamp and some emo ass nice music on, with shit all over the walls - took me back to it being ME experiencing everything in the world for the first time, and I see how fast Annie will be through the other side of it, and then my head explodes.

Not helping: Adrian, A&A's good friend from PATH, just fell 20 feet off some cliff and broke both of his lower leg bones (tibia and fibula) - they snapped totally in half, the x-rays are brutal. He spent the afternoon in surgery and now has titanium pins in his leg for the next 6-12 months. Poor Cybele (his mom) was posting the pictures of him lying there on a stretcher, surrounded by paramedics, on facebook, from where she was ACROSS THE COUNTRY (Adrian has been staying at his grandparents' house for a couple of weeks).
AND, a girl from Ananda's roller derby team has been out sick a lot these past months, and is now admitted to Miami Children's Hospital. We don't know what's wrong yet, just that she has had to have fluid drained from her brain and isn't getting out right away :/ Teammates are all meeting up there tomorrow morning, to visit and bring her things...

Those situations were both today, though. My cresting crisis has been all week, and I don't know what's stirring it up.




I'm also trying to have nice, soft feet for the first time in my life. I've typically been barefoot or in flip flops all day erryday, since I was toddlin' along in a diaper, and I usually have really thick callouses that I consider beneficial and a-ok. I can walk around outside and it doesn't hurt, which is cool. Nothing hurts my feet, which almost never seem sweaty or smell bad, since they are encased in their own natural leather, as it were. I have never understood foot fetishes or the idea that your feet, the things you walk on the ground with, are supposed to be pretty. They're feet! Why do you want them all raw and vulnerable? I make fun of Grant for having "tender vittles" (which is actually a kind of cat food). We do too many rocky beaches where the sand is a million degrees!

Anyway. There are two reasons I am conducting this soft experiment now, which thus far involves ped eggs, foot files, heal cream, oil, lotion and (gag) socks.

1.) For the last couple of years, my feet have taken their traditional leathery reptillian qualities to new levels, that are gettin annoying. I get actual deep CRACKS on my heels now, if I don't try not to, which cause irritating problems by catching on the sheets and causing my tights to run, that I am not into. That sharp dinosaur shit is also not nice on the calves of anyone trying to sleep. I don't know why my dumb skin couldn't leave well enough alone.

2.) Ever since I got shin splints in New York, Grant periodically gives me pretty amazing foot rubs that make my eyes roll back in my head. And, I discovered at some point over the last year's worth of mornings, that I wake up with really sensitive and almost erogenous feet. I find myself rubbing the arches, aka the only parts with semi-normal nerve endings, all around the top of the opposite foot and my sheets, thinking, "What the heck is going on here? Why is this so awesome?" I have an online friend who is far more brazenly open than I am about sex on her blog(s), who talked about actually managing to have an orgasm from rubbing the soles of her feet on her bedsheets for a long and patient enough time. I want in on this weird action I didn't know existed. I at least want some full sensation foot rubs.




I made some peach cobbler tonight that I was pretty happy with. We ate it with coconut (So Delicious) vanilla ice cream. Om. Jake actually said to me, "Mom, thank you so much for making this dessert. I really appreciate you cooking this." Elise added, "I've never eaten anything this good in my entire life."
altarflame: (deluge)
Last Wednesday night, Aaron didn't get home from dance until 9, when Jamaii's mom dropped him off here. He had to be back at 8, the next morning. At around 10pm, tired and irritable from our AC being broken for part of the day, I was sweating and reading The Prisoner of Azkaban to Isaac when Aaron came into Isaac's room in a panic. "Mom, I NEED a Disney costume by tomorrow!" he interrupted. "She assigned me to Peter Pan since I didn't come with one ready today!"

The day before had been the first time I'd ever heard this costume thing mentioned. I had told him then to dig through the dress up chest and put something together, and instead he ran around confused and then seemed to forget all about it. Now it was an emergency.

"No way, Aaron."
"Moooom I'm out of the opening on Friday if I don't have a costume!"
"How does she expect you to get a costume? You left the studio at 8:30 tonight and have to be back at 8 in the morning. When are you supposed to get a costume?"
"She doesn't care!"
"She can bite me, it isn't going to happen."

And then do you know what he said? DO YOU KNOW WHAT HE SAID? The one freakin' thing in the whole world that could move me at that uncomfortably warm, sleepy, late point, knowing I had to be up before 7 Thursday.

He said, "Tomorrow is my birthday!"

Dammit.

So off I went, to Walmart that I try to boycott altogether, searching every section for all these components (big men's dark green polo, bright green tights, felt and yarn...) Just after midnight, I was crocheting a belt and sewing a hat.

When I did get up, far too early, he was thrilled and told me I was awesome. I'd made him a (bleary eyed) birthday breakfast and gotten him spicy sweet chili doritos to take in his lunch (all time favorite).

Off we went, to pick up Jamaii and go to dance. Then, Ananda, Elise and I had an hour to kill before Girl Scout camp started, and I'd promised Ananda's guitar teacher - who I very nearly sued for harrassment, and I'm only half kidding - that Annie would complete her last assignment last week and be done with the course. Of course Annie's crushing social/phone anxiety kicked in and I had to pep talk and then ultimatum her before she consented to use the guitar we'd brought in the trunk, and the laptop I had in the backseat. Finally she sat, logged in to wifi, while Elise and I watched her from inside Panera so nobody else could HEAR HER (God Forbid). Then she came in and I congratulated her with a chai tea latte and a fruit tart, while she was in the bizarrely hyper, almost manic high that always follows overcoming anxiety, for her.

I skipped my classes that day in favor of shopping for Aaron's birthday dinner, baking his cake and making his frosting, being home (along with Grant, who wasn't leaving) when he arrived rather than hours later, and taking a damned nap. He ended up having tomato tart and sushi. I thought it could be related to how long it had been since I'd had gluten, but others agreed that the carrot cake was the best cake I've made in years. It was...insanely awesome. Just perfect. And enormous. I mean, 9 eggs and a dozen carrots sort of enormous. I went up to 1.5 times the recipe I generally use to bake us 4 dozen cupcakes, for a single round layer cake in my widest spring form pans.

His presents (all requested):
-quad skates, to skate with Annie and possibly ref derby
-a hot pink morph suit
-a 14" beach ball, for a paper mache project
-more stupid overpriced Iniji or whatever toe socks to go under his Vibrams
-light up disco glasses

Anyway. Aaron is 12 :p I am very proud of him, and think he had a good day.

This week, nobody has anything to go to, and I am glad. I had classes and counseling today, and we're hosting a 4th of July party on Thursday evening, but that's it. It's glorious.




In counseling, this evening, I was doing emdr about my mother. EMDR is chronological and believe you me I was irritated as all hell to have this man, after our initial interviews and my first homework assignment, say that we had to start with my mom. I've been talking about my mom in counseling since I was 16. Gah. It is not what I was going to him for. And he's right, blah blah blah.

So I'm there holding these alternately buzzy things in my hands with my eyes shut, thinking about my mom, and then he'd turn them off and I'd talk about what I'd thought and then we'd start over, again and again. That's basically the gist of how EMDR sessions go, although they require some set up info for prompts and minor guidance here and there, and you do some assessments before and after each session.

Twice, today, while I was holding these things, I got SO DIZZY. Room spinning vertigo like I was drunk or...I don't even know. I could even make it reverse direction to make it feel like my brain fluid was all spinning the other way. No nausea or anything, but very distracting and intense like my skull was just slipping by continuously. I would open my eyes to anchor myself here and there, but then it would start again as soon as I shut my eyes. It felt like some kind of crap related to the alternately buzzing hand things, and/or the alternately stimulated halves of my brain.

The session was ok overall, he told me something challenging I probably really needed to hear. As I was paying my deductible, I mentioned the dizziness off handedly and told him that had happened twice before during EMDR in 2008.

He immediately said people have phantom symptoms all the time based on unconscious triggering of memories that involved feeling those symptoms. Stomach aches during a tv show, whatever.

Well. I definitely spent months using every afternoon as "spinning time," following my parents' divorce. I ended up at an ENT at one point who told my mother it seemed I'd destroyed my equilibrium by fucking up my vestibular system permanently. <---Note, that ENT was a quack who later tried to cauterize the insides of my nostrils for bleeding from the sinus cavity. Just sayin'.

But I spun and spun and spun, that year. Retrospectively, as a parent, I do not understand why my mother or one of my grandparents didn't come out of the house and say, "Tina, you've been spinning for THREE HOURS, what is going on? Let's talk." This is very similar to how it baffles me, now, that nobody ever KNOCKED ON MY BEDROOM DOOR and pulled me out, in later years. Just.

The point is, yeah, I spun, and yeah, we were talking about that same time period today, although I never consciously thought of the spinning. I'm also about 98% sure that when that dizziness happened in 2008 EMDR, it was when we were talking about my parents splitting up.

I have two thought processes about this that kinda run in tandem:

1.) I do wish my body didn't feel the need to hold onto every fucking thing, along with my brain. I wonder if I can let it all go, or only the mental part, or what.

2.) I am more skeptical than I have ever been in my life, but also more eager to be shown real magic than I have probably ever been. It felt like my therapist had tricks up his sleeve, today. Illusions to pull out and impress me.

Another one: Francine Shapiro, the (somewhat controversial) inventor of EMDR, had a book come out in the last year, that he has in his office partially because she thanks him in her Acknowledgements, since he allowed her to use a bunch of his work in the early chapters. Including some of his success cases involving victims of 9/11, and Hurricane Katrina.

It made him seem like a very accomplished magician, and reminded me of the Wizard of Oz.




I have a lot of pictures to upload, and I may even do it soon, but I'd like to note that this website makes uploading pictures a phenomenal pain in the ass - they have to be resized in PSP or something and then uploaded to a separate host site of your own, and then linked - and so I end up doing it on tumblr, where I can just use my phone to basically copy and paste from my gallery, way more often. My tumblr does have a "personal posts only" link that is easily clicked if you ever want to see original content of mine without the reblogged tumblr stuff all mixed in - it's here: http://altarflame.tumblr.com/tagged/personal I don't usually do a lot of long text posts there like I do here (and I am somewhat more likely to be uncensored/controversial, there, although it's not more or less honest...) It's not taking the place of my lj. It is just easier sometimes to do short things on the fly, on tumblr.

Since I've done a lot more "personal" tumblr-ing recently than I generally do, I thought I would link some of it individually for the interested. There is:

-This one about my obsession with, and endless parade of, white flowers at all stages of life.

-A little story about ordering chickens, and me talking about how I loved our buff orpington, Belina.

-A video about an overgrown section of our yard that we have sacrificed to dozens of butterflies as well as a a picture of how it looks from in our tv room window, where we watch the caterpillars building and hatching from chrysalises.

-Something short about our ridiculous Florida weather.

-Gardening with Elise (our lettuce has gone mad, and the chickens keep eating our chard)

-Some pictures of Annie's new hair, as modeled over the weekend from another city, where she skated in her first derby bouts.

-A couple of different posts about the joy of having new books to read for the first time.

-And one ridiculous shot of Aaron in one of his many get-ups.




I've been really enjoying the downtime of laying low and staying home much more than I have in awhile. Washing massive piles of dishes and putting away mountains of laundry like it isn't torture, even. It's one of those very homey times when our bathrooms are stocked with folded stacks of rags by the sinks, and everyone has their own socks sorted into their bedrooms, rather than just having "the sock basket" available to dig through (our usual system). I hot glued a fairy's wing back on, sewed a stuffed animal that was losing it's spikes and scotch taped several books, over the weekend. They had all waited for me to repair them for a long time. I've hosted Laura and her kids for dinner, greeted everyone with oatmeal and coffee as they woke up, and read to people in the afternoons AND at night. One day, I had an entire to-do list of plant related tasks (prunings, repottings, watering, etc) and relished it every minute.

There has been more Summer Oldies Pandora station and less Dresden Dolls, playing.

I remember when this feeling was just how I felt about life staying home as a mother and sometimes I even toy with the idea that it can last forever without any sort of supervision or maintenance, now. But I know the truth is that this is not then, and I need to leave and come back to enjoy it, these days. I need to do pre-emptive things like go to counseling, classes and my writing time BEFORE I find myself struggling to not just go in my room and lock the door. I am one of the people I have to take care of.

It is what it is, and I'm grateful for a whole lot.
altarflame: (deluge)
I'm in a bit of a whirlwind.

Last week, Grant was in Maryland. We had Izzy here Tues-Thurs, sleeping over, for babysitting when I went to my classes. Gloria came over from Thur-Sat, initially for crisis management (too many colliding demands!!!) and then because our house is pretty much awesome and she wanted to live here for awhile. Annie's (and my) friend Mia had already been scheduled to be here from Fri-Sun. Shaun was here Saturday night, for dinner. Between Izzy, Gloria and Mia doing big loads of my dishes, and Grant cleaning a bathroom and making Saturday's dinner - and another Dance Empire mom carpooling with us, for her son and Aaron - I am really feeling the help and love of "the Village."

Yesterday I left Isaac and Jake at Laura's while I ran to get Ananda and Elise from Girl Scout camp, and then the five of us stayed over there with Laura and her kids, while she cooked dinner (Aaron was at the dance studio, aka his actual home O_o). Tomorrow, we're picking Mia up to go with Annie to derby practice.

Anyway! It's good to laugh with people, eat with people, watch ridiculous movies like Party Monster with people. It is not as hectic as it sounds - actually the opposite. Having multiple adults in the house means Grant and I could get up on Saturday, for instance, and take Ananda to derby and just go have a lunch date alone, while all the other kids slept in.

The big highlight of our week, I think, was when I took Ananda and Mia to see Neil Gaiman and we had a great day (and amazing, affordable thai food for lunch), and then Neil Gaiman reblogged and discussed my tumblr post about how happy Ananda was with the whole thing. She was THRILLED, freaking, there are no words. We spent half an hour last night reading all the awesome notes on the post (it has over 2k likes and reblogs, now, so there are a couple dozen reaction comments mixed in...) It's here: http://neil-gaiman.tumblr.com/post/53784867902/altarflame-today-i-took-my-13-year-old




Today was emotionally intense, for me. Mostly positive, but a lot. I did things like:

-Take a longish, somewhat meditative bath with my typical breakfast smoothie (frozen fruit chunks, keffir, probiotic powder, emergen-C, coconut oil, egg, flax seed meal, fish oil...) before getting all my kids' things together, lunches packed, breakfasts eaten, driving done... today was a day that G worked from home, with Isaac and Jake

-(In Intro to Social Psych...) watch REAL FOOTAGE of the Migram Obedience Experiments and the The Stanford Prison Experiment (features nudity...). Harrowing.

-Eat more amazing cheap thai food (STIR MOON CORAL GABLES WHAT UP, I DONE YELPED YOU SO HARD), with bubble tea, while writing more of Elizabeth's book. I'm really excited about this.

-See my Summer A grades: A, B, B- ...I'm not UPSET about it, but I wanted to do better. I'm also just elated that 9 of my 60 credits are already done, and I'm working on the next 6 now/Summer B, and will do 15 more in the Fall. Then I'll already be HALF DONE with the bachelors part of this journey O_o Next legs will be challenging - I need Stats II and III, followed by Research Methods. I'm planning to spend next summer in a clinical research position (FIU has tons of available options...), probably for pay as a co-curricular.

-Try to deal with the fact that my Summer B classes are offered in an auditorium style classroom with movie theater seats that each have a folding desklet option attached - that really does not fit/work with my hernia belly. So sucky.

-Yet, I was wearing some of my (amazing) new ASOS clothes today, and rocking some badass makeup. Life is a mixed bag.

-In counseling, we did emdr about my mother. Because this guy is adamant about chronology mattering, and thinks it's important. And I grudgingly admit he's right, even though I really, really didn't want to go there.

-Talking my husband down from terrible depressive feelings and letting him rant and rave about them, on the phone. I think it helped significantly, or at least he seemed to be feeling a lot better by the time he went to bed.

-Reschedule a phone meeting with my editor. Dammit, I have to write her an email when I'm done with this...

-Open my packages, when I walked in the door! Beautiful books, how I love them. One of them is The Sound of Building Coffins, by the friend of a friend (he's the friend of my friend the painter, who I linked last week...her daughter, Izzy, recognized the book in my amazon history as "So and So's Dad's book").

-Spend an hour and a half catching up with my children, one at a time. Sitting with Elise in my lap as she tells me all about her day, and we find her missing swim cap to tuck in her backpack for tomorrow; hugging Jake quietly for a long time, and then looking at all his latest Minecraft creations; snuggling Isaac, and reading to him; listening to Aaron complain and worry and hope and dream and whine and laugh about dance,* and then put lotion on his sunburn; harassing Annie about her schoolwork, complimenting her makeup, going over her weekend trip information (derby tournament).

-Throughout the entire day, I am on tumblr and facebook. In bathrooms and classrooms and at red lights. I put my phone away for writing, therapy or direct interaction with Grant/kids...otherwise it is probably A Problem. How else can I listen to Pandora and use Google Maps to get where I'm going, though? Today, it's exciting to do, to see the notes on that tumblr post unfold and to get the crazy "new follower" emails. There's also been a friend with a kid in surgery, a friend with a legal victory, and now, many friends waiting with baited breath re: the Texas filibuster.

-I also read the first chapter of (my signed copy of...) The Ocean at the End of the Lane, tonight, and - perhaps moreso because I am also writing and this is a semi-autobiographical book - it made me so sad, for poor little 7 year old Neil Gaiman. I suppose I should not say more than that. I sent him tumblr asks (which do not have to be questions, and weren't in this case) about it.




Last, I got the questionable news via text that I was confused about times, and our day tomorrow starts an hour earlier than we had planned. NOT EXCITED. Although, tomorrow is fairly low-key after the first morning bit - just Isaac, Jake and me in a quiet house for many hours, until dinner time and mass homecomings :)


*Aaron is doing this summer intensive program, and he's running laps, stretching, doing barre work, taking classes with choreographers in all genres, just - it's all day every day. Monday was 9-8:30. Today was 9-4. Tomorrow is 8-8:30. He loves it, and is focused and determined and obsessed, and already showing marked improvements (these people are crazy, they are even going to the beach every Friday because there are supposedly things you can only learn IN THE WATER? THE MOVING WATER? Hence the sunburn...).
altarflame: (Default)
Today turned out not to be a total bust, despite my being a bleary eyed mess and then taking a necessary nap.

The little kids got to camp, breakfast eaten, lunches packed, wearing clean clothes, and with instruments and folders in tow.

I mailed belated birthday cards to my Nana and brother, and a postcard to my friend who is still waiting on the Epic-est Letter of all Time. This was all bleary eyed. Then nap.

Then Aaron and I had about an hour and a half of really good, continuing talk about ideas that just keep stringing together...the other night this began with a discussion on the Anais Nin quote, "We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are", along with the concept of curiosity before judgement. Today this somehow led into the placebo effect, and self fulfilling prophecies, and finally the evolution in how our culture handles dead bodies and the myriad options open to people for what they wish to be done with their own bodies (which Ananda joined us for).

This was also the 6th time in the last few months that I've made contact with Dr Geraldi re: Aaron's persistently swollen glands and constant low level sickness. We just talked today; there have been 3 office visits and other phone conversations. He's referring us out to infectious disease at Miami Children's Hospital - doc is thinking mono, which makes an awful lot of sense and could conceivably have been picked up during some kind of gross sharing of wind instruments (Aaron plays flute with GMYS).

Several emails later, the chair of math is going to be working out my Statistics grade at the beginning of the fall semester, so I signed up to take the class again just in case. He sounds like he'll have the situation worked out to where my grade is raised and I can drop the repeat class in the first week without penalty, but it will be there in case. My understanding is that my teacher is impossible to reach on vacation or something.

I need a different book for that repeat course, so I went and sold my old one back.

I also talked to someone at Florida Virtual Schools about the forms I have to turn in for Ananda and Aaron as homeschoolers, and to someone at the charter school about the uniforms Isaac and Elise need.

And I had a really fabulous lunch, involving french bread I browned in a pan of melted butter, bacon, avocado and tomato. Please feel free to peruse Ananda's and my fabulous dinner from last night, here (pictures are clickable, albeit camera phone quality), and the ridiculously fulfilling splendour that is my bathroom, here. It's the little things ;)

Grant is out of state for work and, as usual, I find my web activity expands without another adult about the place in the evenings.

Last night I did have a half hour talk in our front yard with our (very, very nice) plumber neighbor, about the small leak that persists despite all he's done...somewhere (based on the meter continuing to spin). He'll be back some evening this week to investigate further, which has given me the opportunity to clear a path through our laundry room to the water heater.

And, Ananda and I watched Julie and Julia last night, after everyone else was in bed, which was inspired in part by these drool-worthy and luscious tumblr posts:
Boef Bourgignon
Chocolate Mousse
French Onion Soup

Hence, our dinner.

I've already decided Julia's old PBS shows (along with Carl Sagan's Cosmos) are gonna be part of our homeschool year - AND DID YOU KNOW that Cosmos is coming back on the air, but will now be hosted by Neil deGrasse Tyson??

This is getting disjointed, but it's cool to me to think of these Food Network kids seeing how it all started.

I will leave you now with two great videos from these wonderful little boys, who are growing and changing so much and are really not so "little" at all anymore.

Jake "cooking" last week - could use some editing, but I was impressed. It was one shot, no input from me, his idea. He's kind of a natural:


Isaac playing the recorder very well, albeit for just a short while, this afternoon:

He's getting ready for the performance at the end of their camp in a couple of days :)
altarflame: (Default)
So, I'm getting more and more tumblr questions and lj comments and facebook messages about my book, which is really wonderful, but it's also grating on me in this unexpected way...

Maybe because I'm not really used to achieving any kind of personal success unrelated to other people.

Maybe because I wasn't really taught that long term rewards are achievable.

Maybe because I've talked a lot of shit on here for a lot of years about my writing and now THIS is the first thing that's gonna be out there to represent it and this is good writing, in it's way, it really is, I'm proud of it - it's just also insane and not for everyone.

I'm just....thinking about my neighbors, and other PATH moms, and my mother in law and aunts and cousins leafing through it, dance moms and my teachers and it kind of makes me want to hide my head under a pillow until I'm old. I think I would ideally have every single person I will never encounter IRL read it.

You're either in or you're out, right? I'm in.

It's just, somewhere in between answering a bunch of interview questions for my publisher yesterday and seeing the cover pop up on my dash because Bobby reblogged it I was like, alright. I'm not going to throw up. Really I'm not. Lol, geez. It just hit me, You are choosing to publish the contents of your head.

And I wrote this ridiculous bullshit yesterday, spontaneously and like vomiting through the keyboard like all of Twenty Troubled Ladies went for me...and I'm just looking at it, like, really? This is what comes out of your head and through your fingers? THIS? This is the contents of your head...

I'm doing a lot of narrative nonfiction, and working on my children's books, just lately, and have been thinking it's sort of odd that the way time is, and production is, I would always be working on totally different stuff by the time something from years before was getting released (you know, assuming other things get released...)

Except apparently I'm still gonna periodically write totally gritty and psychotic short stories.




I am pretty pleased with this past semester of school now that it's over. It's the worst grades I've gotten so far, but it proved to me that even when the shit hits the fan and school can't be a priority, I can still keep going and make it work. January-April for me was like,

-CPS and cops at my house about Isaac counseling issues (everything resolved and closed quickly and without repercussion, but holy shit), and kicking Bob out and moving bedrooms around, and so many phone calls and forms
-Taking Isaac to Kendall and Hialeah multiple times per week for hours at a time, and twice an entire day, when Grant and I weren't interviewing with someone, or filling out packets, or making my sister fill out packets, for his counseling and his psych eval
-getting rear ended and having whiplash - trips to my insurance place and meeting their inspector and sitting on the phone, trips to the chiro, and CONSTANT PAIN and reduced range of motion, for weeks....(thank God that seems to be over)
-ER trip for my hernia and subsequent surgical consultations triggering the fuck out of my PTSD and putting me into a severe dissociative funk
-Bronchitis so bad I ended up at the hospital for it, and on an inhaler for the first time in my life
-Getting ACCEPTED FOR PUBLICATION and spending seriously countless hours on the phone and via email with publisher contact going over cover choices, pseudonym merits, story order, dedications, intro, fonts, my bio, their marketing, interview questions and answers, and tracking down my wayward fucking diva artist for permission to use his images, and having ANNE RICE say she'll read and review my book and having a heart attack....
-Aaron's glands swelling to chipmunk proportions and requiring multiple doctor visits and tons of meds
-walking my mother through my grandmother being put in a home and my grandfather going through open heart surgery that went badly, then ok, and now how to navigate them being in this center together and eventually (hopefully?) going home. Which reminds me I need to get the freakin' cards the kids made them in the mail...
-finding out my financial aid was flagged and cancelled and bullshit AGAIN and tediously plowing through bureaucracy AGAIN to be able to pay for school
-getting offered a refinance rather than foreclosure option for our house that we couldn't afford and my husband basically having a nervous breakdown and putting all the finances totally in my hands (as in, he doesn't even wanna know) and pulling us through that, with the help of selling crap, "manifesting" near miraculous things, and a certain Wright Bank family benefactor (that means Shaun).
-Aaron attended 12 weeks of acting classes and was then part of a performance we all went to, Ananda and Elise sold Girl Scout cookies, Jake learned to ride a bike without training wheels, Laura had a baby....
-I even hung out with/caught up with Kathy multiple times, and met up with Jess and Cale for two different cool nights in Miami and some good phone calls, and spent stolen minutes with Kristin at the bike rack and in our kitchens!

I also think Grant and I might have been nearly killed on the beach, and holy shit can I just say that looking at that list right now is making me give my monitor a severe side-eye because WHAT THE FUCK is the matter with the past few months?!

Point being, I did not drop out, or miss too many classes, or withdraw from or fail anything, NOT EVEN ALGEBRA - which I am now done with, forever.

Humanities - A
Computer Crap - B <---That's really what they call it, isn't that crazy?
Spanish - B
Algebra - C

I'm in like Flynn, it's on like Donkey Kong. I'm gonna get the fuck out of this degree. I'm gonna get STRAIGHT As again if my life ever calms down, but if it doesn't, things'll work out.

One thing this semester did teach me, is that it is ludicrous and impossible for me to go to UM's med school and enter the Extremely Rigorous neuroscience program. But, I am mostly ok with that, and it will probably be there when my kids are grown, right?

I also managed to finagle full scholarships for all five kids to go to Greater Miami Youth Symphony day camp; 2 two week sessions of beginner for Isaac, Jake and Elise and 6 weeks of intermediate for Ananda and Aaron. I think A and A are gonna have a really great time this year; there are PATH friends and Girl Scout troop members who will be there with them.




+20, some of which will be repeats if you've been looking at my fb/tumblr )
altarflame: (Default)
FB convo with my sister about Annie's eating )

500 million (26) pictures )



Aaron cried throughout most of an hour long conversation we had last night about how terrible his attention span, ability to concentrate and general coping skills are. He's been acting more like an SID flibberdigibit than ever recently...the past few weeks with him have reminded me of when he was 4 and couldn't talk, or wear short sleeves, or have a mosquito bite that didn't feature a complete breakdown. We talked together about how it was when he was young and things I did that helped him and how it's been lately and how frustrated both of us are, and one thing I always really appreciate about Aaron is how free and easy we communicate and how much he absorbs and listens... There is a deep connection that helps, even if we do have to be alone together in a low-stimulation area for that to happen.

He told me he watches a YouTuber with ADD who talks about his ADD and makes Aaron really thinks he has it, and that guy has part of his segments that are about when he's off his meds and that scares Aaron, like maybe he needs meds, but he doesn't want to take pills. We researched diagnosis and treatment of ADD and med side effects a lot today, and have been talking about using this SID self-management thing for older kids, that my sister found for her son, as well as whether we want to make a trip to the pediatrician/therapist over this. I believe he's old/cognizant enough to have a say every step of the way. Something has to happen, though, because I'm really starting to worry about his inability to do very simple multi-step things and feel kind of freaked about what it means for his long term...life. Academics, home management, having relationships. He's VERY "autism spectrum" this past month, not making eye contact or even appearing to hear siblings who talk to him and putting his hands over his ears to block out lectures in this EXTREMELY involuntary way, like he knows he cannot do that but he has to...*sigh* I would not be quite so worried about what could be a temporary setback if it wasn't on the heels of a whole year that made me nervous about his overall progress. And if he wasn't so depressed and anxious about it as often as he is :/

We're going to do an experiment and see how he reacts to coffee before chores/schoolwork, after reading a lot of really interesting studies today about the benefits of self-treating / ADD with caffeine. I'm also instituting a lot more structure for him, that we're planning together this week, that involves breaks for physical activity and some of his learning coming from computer things (watching documentaries, Kahn University, websites that teach typing, stuff like that).

I also introduced the idea to him that he may just be starting puberty and experiencing mood swings and hormonal changes that seem like anxiousness, confusion, heightened stir craziness, etc. It makes a lot of sense as a possible total explanation.

Sometimes the idea that I am managing their educations, extracurricular opportunities and social lives - in such a hands on way - is really like the weight of the whole damned world on my shoulders, as they get older... This isn't preschool anymore, for Ananda and Aaron. I really have to take a step back and breathe, sometimes.




Stress about Isaac over the past couple of months - which I outlined but left quite a lot out of, on tumblr, but you can read the C&P'd outline under this cut )
Anyway, Isaac stress - it has given me aaaall these sudden gray hairs, and this ridiculously tired look that is creating fine lines all over my face, and I'm suddenly looking at myself thinking, damn. You are gonna be old, and that's fine, because I can deal with being old. But FIRST, you are gonna gradually decline and just look like a crappier looking thirty something person, a really haggard young you that's starting to fade. And that is harder for me to deal with. I'm finding myself considering all sorts of things I never thought I would, from dyeing my hair to FREAKING MICRODERMABRASION. It's really sort of nuts how compelling a low cost way to just give you another couple of years of looking like your own traditional self, can be. I find myself thinking things like, "when I go get injections to take care of these spider veins on my legs" and "maybe I should get a thighs/breast lift while I'm on the table anyway because I have to have a stupid tummy tuck I don't even want, and then I can at least like myself in a bathingsuit" (even though this is bizarre "in advance" thinking, since as it stands nothing is in any way hanging but I live in fear that when I lose weight, IT WILL).

And I am losing weight. In this very private, I've hit rock bottom sort of way I'm not ready to talk about.

"Aging," though - on the one hand, I feel beautiful a lot of the time. On the other, I have this sense of myself as a bundle of ok-for-now minor flaws that, if allowed to snowball, could avalanche out of control and then I'll find myself so far gone that it's "too late", whereas if I "kept up" with everything, I'd get another good decade and a half or so in before I have to reconcile myself to major changes.

For now I'm drinking a lot of water, using serum before I go to sleep and really not having time to give too much of a damn. My actual ACHES AND PAINS are too intense for me to get carried away with aesthetics...I have a major foot problem that is escalating, from a combination of my misaligned hips and falling down some stairs two weeks ago. It's getting to the point that I'm actually sucking it up and walking around in supportive sneakers, which means It Is Serious. Making an appt about it tomorrow....I'm sort of grateful that it's all messed up because it contributed to the aforementioned Rock Bottom situation that spurred me back to real changes re: weight.

So, yeah. Grant and I have some really great moments, kisses and laying together times and him rubbing my foot or us in the bath or whatever, when we just look at each other and go, Damn. We are doing an awful lot of shit right. All the kids and I have really great moments, and I don't waste any time. I make sure to enjoy the bike ride in the good weather and to savor the feeling of falling asleep and to spend some of my car rides on the phone laughing with friends. Or crying with them. I have this idea that shit's gonna calm down at some point? But I'm not really sure when that is. I guess the soonest possible calming factors would be:

-taking a break between degrees, like after I get my AA? That's kind of being thought of as "surgery time", though, i.e., not calm. Maybe Spring Break could be a mini break? I was just taking a makeup Spanish exam in the teachers' lounge for an hour, today
-when Grant gets to start telecommuting, finds a closer job or we move north towards his current job. That would be a huge huge factor.
-when some of my kids drive
-when all my kids are grown

But at least I'm not in some gray waiting place anymore, behind my locked bedroom door, wondering how I should start. Life is what happens when you're busy making other plans and all that.

My sister thinks it's hilarious that there is now a Kindle in my bathroom where there used to be a book. In the increments that happen when I pee, I'm reading Sex at Dawn: The Prehistoric Origins of Modern Sexuality and Great Expectations.

I relate to a degree that is beyond embarrassing and into "I'm not even embarrassed, this is just awesome" to freaking Sixx AM lyrics. I have officially gone from growing up with to growing old with, Nikki Sixx. Blared all too often on my way back into town from the train station:

This is a second coming
This is a call to arms
Your finest hour won't be wasted, wasted
You say it's all a crisis,
You say it's all a blur
There comes a time you gotta face it, face it
Hey, hey - hell is what you make
Rise against your fate
Nothing's gonna keep you down,
Even if it's killing you
Because you know the truth
Listen up, listen up
There's a devil in the church
Got a bullet in the chamber and
This is gonna hurt
Let it out, let it out
You can scream and you can shout
But keep your secrets in the shadows and
You'll be sorry -
Everybody's on the run
And everybody's getting numb
Keep your secrets in the shadows and you'll be sorry


************

Are you with me now?
Come back from the dead -
You've been inside your head for too long
Are you with me now?
Find the places that scare you -
Come on I dare you
Are you with me?
altarflame: (Bjorkscream)
I'm trying to just be present in the moment.
When it works, during the day/at their bedtime, I'm a really good mother and we have great school and other time.
When it doesn't, during the day/at their bedtime, I'm extremely lonely.

Evenings are a heavy and somber mix of hard talks and hopeful times, with Grant.

Nights involve a lot of up by myself, unable to sleep.

Let me break down things I'm excited about, here:

1. Writing, in three parts -
a. Memo has sent me 8 sketches now for illustrations for my childrens' book, which is finished, and the two of us plan to self-publish together through amazon on demand.
b. My surgery book is half-finished, Nancy is thinking about what she's doing for the forward now as I email another (famous, not my friend) artists back and forth about the logistics of using her art in it, and receive peoples' stories of traumatic surgery (thank you, everyone who has submitted...I am definitely going to get back to everybody and am still open to more). I've got a lot of research to go right now, with citing studies properly and having my information straight.
c. My collection of fictional short stories is almost done - 19 out of 20 are finished and I think it's really good.

2. College, in two parts -
a. Everyone got a "pay by" extension for the summer semester since Miami Dade is slacking on getting the awards handed out, so I have a little more breathing room to have my appeal filed in time, and also got some good advice from the last person I spoke with there.
b. I am thinking more and more that my major is going to be switching to either social work or counseling. This is mildly dissapointing in an unimportant way (I love psych and don't like the image that comes into my mind when I think "social worker") but much more profitable and still in line with the kind of work I actually want to be doing on the day to day.

My house has been much cleaner than usual in a way I'm really enjoying.

I'm seriously wondering if I have a thyroid disorder (hypo), because of how my weight just keeps creeping up and up and up and it's so hard to lose any even when I'm really doing things right. I have almost every symptom and have for some time. I actually perfectly fit the bill for Wilson's Temperature Syndrome but I don't want to be a crazy self-diagnosing hippy...oh wait it's too late to avoid that, isn't it? Anyway I'm looking at natural ways to improve thyroid function because we don't have insurance right now and I don't even want to deal with extra doctors in general. B vitamins and coconut oil are where I'm starting, along with more excercise. It's not like any of that is gonna hurt anything if I'm wrong, and it could really help even if I'm just in the low-normal thyroid range.

I laughed so hard at this website: Calories Burned During Sex".

Also, Tumblr tag searches are highly entertaining. It's like the dumping ground of the entire internet, the ultimate stockpile of every gif and macro and comixed hoozawatsit ever made.


Grant wants me to drop out of RCIA. I don't think that's a good idea. His reason(ing)s are that I'm questioning my faith and not sure how I feel about Catholicism and so I shouldn't be there. My reasoning is that it's something I've wanted for years, and I've come this far, and I don't want to just drop out now because I'm unsure about everything - I still have until May 12 to decide how I feel one way or the other. In the meantime, Mass and RCIA every week is really the only thread my faith life is hanging from, here. I also really like a few of my classmates and my sponsor, and love the community of St Louis. I frequently dread going, but I'm always glad I went afterwards, and it's something I have for myself.

Part of his thought process here is that he'd like to go back to Protestant church of some kind, which I understand (RCIA kind of monopolizes Sunday mornings, especially now that we're down to one vehicle...Mass I could go to Saturday or Sunday nights but not the class itself). But I told him, honestly, that I don't want to ever go back to Protestant church. I mean I wouldn't mind visiting and I don't have anything against Protestants, but I don't want to join or belong to one. I feel like Christianity very obviously leads anyone who digs deeper and keeps learning and yearning for more back to the higher churches, where you see that they've existed since Christ started them 2000 years ago, whereas all these little offshoot branches that broke away a couple hundred years ago have diluted it down to something lacking much of what was originally there.



Aaaaaaaanyway, this has been sitting open forever, so I guess Imma post it now.

P.S. We saw Sucker Punch last night, and it was definitely a super gritty concentration of special effects and false eyelashes. But, it was also a uniquely done comic book style look into mental escapism, mental institutions, abuse and being held against your will. Dissociation in as Big Hollywood a way as possible, I guess, with amazing music. All in all I was entertained throughout.

P.P.S. I've decided I'm naming "my" cat (one of the two kittens we kept) Elvis. This way, I get to say things like "Why is The King in my bathroom sink?", "Elvis has left the building!" and "Aww, aren't you just such a cute furry hunka hunka burning love???" Should he misbehave I get to yell ELVIS PRESLEY!!! Also this way when he eventually dies, we can just pretend he's actually still out there somewhere and it's a conspiracy.
altarflame: (MollyWeasley)
I had the most heartbreaking conversation with Aaron last night, about Ananda. We've known that Aaron has some inexplicable depression off and on for the last several months, and that he can be distant. We thought it was related to his injuries when he got back from NY, or from not dancing this year; we thought maybe having friends around the neighborhood was helping.

But he came out about the real cause last night, and cried and sat between Grant and I on a park bench for a long time.

It's just Annie.

She's way bigger than him for the first time since they were babies.
She doesn't play, ever, anymore.
She usually doesn't even want to talk.
She spends long periods of unexplained time locked in the bathroom and gets really mad at him when he asks why.
She gets really mad at him a lot in general and he never knows why.
She reads so much and doesn't like to be interrupted.
She gives her best energy and happiness to outside of the house stuff, like Girl Scout meetings. It's like seeing a different person to watch her with friends.
(in short, she's in puberty now)

This is a Big Deal for him, she has been there literally since he was born and it is massive seismic shift in his earth for her to pull back and withdraw from their twosome.

I told him they might not ever be the way they were before again, but that they will be close in a new way one day. That every girl goes through a stage like this. Some of the things going through Ananda's head and how weird it is to feel the way she does. That me and Aunt Laura are 3.5 years apart and fought a LOT as kids and I was so mean to her but now we're freakin' joined at the hip or something.

But he said he feels alone in the family, because me and Dad have each other, and the little kids hang out together, and it was him and Annie, but she doesn't want him anymore.

He breaks my heart, glassy eyed and shaking his head, looking at the sidewalk.

I wish that she were the sort of girl who would give him a hug and reassure him if I asked her to, but she is not. It just leads to an epic battle of wills that will go on forever if I try to get something like that out of her. She's PAINFULLY undemonstrative and sarcastic with him, and he kind of understands. He'll say things like, "Annie is too afraid to being vulnerable", that are pretty amazing. But then again he does not understand, at all, and will go off on a tirade when we're alone together like, "It just doesn't make sense to treat the people you love the most the worst!"

I think it made him feel a little better, to talk it out with us. I ended up taking him with me to the Y for my swimming and we kept talking in the pool - about Bobby, and all kinds of stuff. He seemed way happier last night. I guess I need to get him alone more often.




I managed to drag myself up by my own bootstraps today and Make Some Things Happen when I had really, really not wanted to, and had been on the phone with my sister bitching about how much I didn't want to do anything and how hard it is to always have so many things to do.

Mainly lately I just feel like I'm failing at educating the kids. I think I'm a really good mom overall and their quality of life is high, but like I've been slack at homeschooling for a long time and now that we've kind of got our sights set on school this fall I've just let it go to a degree that is really not ok, but...*whine*

Anyway I ended up doing lots of math and tracing with Elise and many pages each of phonics with Jake and Isaac and division with Annie and feeling like I don't suck and that wasn't so bad and maybe I can get through til fall comes without their brains falling out OR having to gouge my own eyes out with a spoon.

This is the general pattern of my days lately: waste time, bitch about not wanting to do things I have to do, waste more time, lament the wasted day...and then RECLAIM THE DAY!! Seeings how my kids aren't generally privy to the bitching and enjoy the waste time I figure it's mostly all good.




So, I have a tumblr now. It's a different sort of site and I'm planning on making it a different sort of blog experience. So if you are not wanting to ever have something controversial on screen without warning due to bosses or children, or if you just really only want to view very conservative material yourself, don't go. I'm not going to link regularly and I'd like to have people like my grandfather and Shaun and my mother and my nephew know up front that it's not really intended for them and they'll be viewing at their own risk.

It's not a porn blog or anything (don't get all excited), it's just less filtered than I've honed this thing to be over the last 8 years. I'm also not ever gonna be putting my epic sagas on there; everything I'd normally put on livejournal will still be here (and my "personal blog", I guess). I'm just going to add images I love and quotes I like and little things that tantalize me and thoughts that intrigue me. It's altarflame.tumblr.com

A couple of cool things is you (meaning, anyone) can submit things to be posted on my tumblr (at my discretion) and also ask questions a la formspring, though I'm more prepared to delete all the stupid shit than I was when I had a formspring. I like those interactive parts a lot :) And if you have a tumblr you think I might like, let me know <3

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