Category Archives: Worrying

pugilist’s moon

The Native Americans might have called it the Snow Moon, or the Hunger Moon, but last night I decided that a more accurate moniker would be the Pugilist’s Moon. Last night’s full moon and lunar eclipse, possibly exacerbated by the “close” passing of Green Comet 45P, wreaked a fair share of havoc on us.

Yes, I do believe somewhat that the lunar cycles have an impact on our human behavior. We really are just big sacks of liquidy stuff charged with some mysterious electrical current and I’ve been friends with enough teachers, social workers, and emergency medical folks throughout my adulthood to know that many of them dread full moons. Especially full moon Fridays. My teacher friends on FB started expressing concern several days ago.

So this week:

I got into a huge fight with Jax. This isn’t actually unusual because Jax & I are both very opinionated, strong-willed people and even when we agree on a basic issue, we can still argue over semantics or the details of it. Normally I don’t mind this much because I always know where I stand with him and vice versa. There’s never any hidden undercurrents of dissatisfaction – it’s all out there, even the minor stuff. But this week’s was a little vehement and nonsensical even for us. Neither of us were really sure what it started with. We made up but post-fight I was laid low with a stress migraine the day after.

My credit card got hacked (AGAIN) for the third or fourth time. I always know what it’s about when the company calls me – “did you authorize such-and-such an outlandish charge in Florida [[Texas]]?” It’s always either Florida or Texas. And it’s almost always either a gas station or Wal-Mart. Sigh. “No, I did not try to charge $564 at Wal-Mart in Fort Worth.” “Can we Fed Ex you a new card to your home on Monday? Will you be home?” “No, I work full time.” “Okay, we will put it in the US mail. Good luck paying cash for everything over the next 7-10 business days!”

It’s a damn chip card too. But I guess I should just be happy that they catch it so quickly that I’ve never had to open a bill and find a charge for Skoal, Budweiser, and a flat screen television from a Wal-Mart in Bumfuck Arkansas.

The last and worst was Miss L’s elementary school dance last night. The PTA worked so hard to decorate the school and it looked lovely. They had cake and photo booths, a DJ and dancing, all the kiddos dressed up in their Sunday best. The joint was jumping and I was trying to knit in the darkness, humming along to Gangnam Style, when I became aware of a change in the atmosphere. I could sense it like a drop in air pressure. When not knitting, I was trying to keep an eye on L amidst all the crowds of kids and parents, and being told off roundly every time she caught me “following” her. Anyway, I packed my sock and needles up into my Moomin bag and set off into the hallway to scout things out. I quickly realized there was a very unfortunate argument between three sets of parents and two crying children, and it was devolving with lightning speed.

My fear, ever-present these days, is that the environment is so highly charged, and so toxic with resentment. So many people now feel emboldened to say whatever despicable xenophobic Go Back to Whatever Country You Legally Migrated From For No Good Reason thing, typically beset with racial epithets, this so-called president has inspired them to, and so many on the other side of the issues have quivering antennae set to pick up on any hint of that even when it’s not there and immediately leap into I’m Going to Punch a Nazi Resistance mode,  disagreements can turn very ugly very quickly. In all fairness, I doubt this had anything to do with any of that. But add a crowded hallway full of children and the only thing I want to do is grab my girl and head for the nearest exit. The principal did an excellent job of containing the dispute in her office, but the content was serious enough that the police were called. This was, as you can imagine, the Most Exciting Thing to ever happen to a school full of sugar-hyped elementary kids, who goggled out windows and raced up and down crowded hallways spinning ever more ludicrous tales and only contributed to the surreal atmosphere, the disbelieving feeling that pervaded me of “this can’t happen here”.

It was an extremely unfortunate way to end the dance, which people worked very hard on and was only meant to inspire joy and happiness and a sense of community for our little ones, and I’m appalled at the behavior exhibited by adults. It is completely uncharacteristic for the beautiful, diverse, multicultural environment that our elementary school exhibits.

I can now only hope that that ol’ Pugilist’s Moon will let us recover from this upheaval. I will be hiding in my bedroom with Emmett madly cleansing my chakras until it’s over.

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we are hope, despite the times

These are unprecedented times – the combination of a very controversial and highly charged political atmosphere and instantaneous information via social media. It feels like there’s no way to step away and if I do step away, I’m failing in my duty to remain alert, informed, and supportive of the political causes that I support.

But I also believe that no one can win arguments online and there is a hysteria / mob mentality online that ratchets everything up to panic mode. I don’t have any answers about how to deal with this situation and I don’t have any answers about how we mend the divisiveness in the country right now. I’m forced to step back every so often, take 24-hour Facebook & Twitter detoxes, and do other things. (I also really want to try to understand why people feel the way they feel, but you can’t ask anyone their opinion on Facebook or Twitter without getting into an argument; this week I read articles like this and this.) I don’t want to fight anyone or hate anyone but I also don’t want to see anyone else discriminated against or hassled on the basis of their skin color, ethnic background, religion or gender. It seems simple to me, live and let live, but it’s just not.

I knew I needed to take a breather when I had an intense dream that Donald Trump was our new boss at work and coming to each of our offices to grill us. It was especially vivid and I woke up startled. So this week I got some new books piled up on my bedside table (“At Home in the World by Thich Nhat Hanh, “Jerusalem Book 1” by Alan Moore – which is quite bizarre – and “The Happiness Equation” by Neil Pasricha – I’m trying to read more nonfiction books this year on a variety of topics). And I hung out with my faves. Miss L was “Leader of the Week” at school so I left work (where, contrary to my subconscious musings, Donald Trump was NOT) to bring her a special Panera lunch and eat with her in her cafeteria. And last night we went back to my alma mater to check out the Michigan women’s gymnastics team’s win over Nebraska!

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Tickets are really inexpensive and the meet was fun – great music, constant activity, and Miss L – whose attention span can be short if she’s not constantly engaged in the proceedings, or well equipped with snacks – was entranced. She got her poster signed by a few members of the team after the meet and you know I don’t usually share pics of her in this forum but you can take my word that she was on Cloud 9. Afterwards, we had a girls’ dinner at Casey’s in Ann Arbor, across from the Amtrak train station – it was hopping! We had burgers and root beer and it was a welcome refuge from a week of angst.

The boys are doing really well, their Prozac has taken effect and although I keep them separated when I’m gone for longish periods of time – when I’m at work, or at Jax’s – when I’m home or just running errands they’re out together and there haven’t been any incidents of violence.

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This week I was watching a documentary on Netflix about trappers who live in the Russian Taiga and Sarge was dead asleep in one of his favorite places.

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On the documentary, the trapper’s dog began barking and snarling and digging at a hollow log to dislodge a sable. The sable burst forth hissing and chattering and Sarge came bolt upright, his eyes wild. The dog and the sable began an epic battle and Sarge jumped down off his chair and rushed to the TV. He was riveted to the scene even after the dog subdued the sable (it was actually kind of gross) and sat there for the longest time.

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I’ve only had one other cat that watched television and it was crazy tiger striped Salem who loved the leopard in “Bringing Up Baby” with Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant.

I hope wherever you are this Sunday you are enjoying yourselves and your loved ones and staying sane in this crazy time, no matter which side of the fence you are on.

xoxo

principled dissent

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It might be a little late to post about the Women’s March on January 21, but I’ll do it anyway. Like millions of others – literally – I have been dismayed and disappointed about the results of the 2016 election and have made no secret about that. I’m sure I’ve lost friends (who probably weren’t real “friends” anyway, if they didn’t know where I would stand on these issues) and pissed off many of the more conservative members of my own family, but I can’t bring myself to say (or feel) sorry about that. Instead, I have struggled to understand how people can support this administration and although I try to practice kindness, love, and empathy, it’s not always possible for me to see how we can bridge our differences.

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I felt a wave of darkness and tension descend on Inauguration Day. Even during the darkest days of the Bush administrations, I never felt that sense of utter trepidation at what the future could hold. This Inauguration Day was different. My cousin, who has attended several inaugurations, summed it up in a post on social media that remarked how angry and bitter and rude the crowd was “even though their guy won”. She said she was shocked at some of the hateful and intolerant comments she overheard and I think that atmosphere pervaded all of the ceremonies. That sense hasn’t dimmed for me. (Particularly when I see the shots and video of Trump’s demeanor towards his wife -and the look on her face- at various points in the ceremony. Can I just say how proud I was to be a Democrat that day? I thought Hillary and the Obamas and Joe Biden conducted themselves with dignity and grace and basic class.)

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This guy was the bright spot of the ceremony. God Bless ya, W, never change.

I got up on Saturday unsure of what was in store for me and my best friend Kit. We’d decided to go to the Lansing, MI march (and I knitted us matching hats – yes, Michael D. Cohen, our hats WERE made in the US,  with love and care and respect, unlike those ubiquitous money-making red trucker hats that are made in China, Bangladesh, and Vietnam). I didn’t know if the tone would be angry, if we’d be opposed, if I’d come home feeling worse than when I went – but so many of the issues are so important to me that I felt I needed to be there, no matter what.

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I’m so glad I went. The atmosphere was convivial and friendly, very chill. The signs were funny and clever and outraged but there wasn’t a single incident that made me feel anything other than proud to be there, and relieved that so many others feel the same as I do. The speakers were excellent and focused on issues – Gretchen Whitmer, who has declared herself an early candidate for Michigan governor in 2020, and Barb Byrum, Ingham County Clerk were standouts. Our speakers didn’t drop f-bombs or do strange raps (I really wish Madonna and Ashley Judd had stuck to issues) – they discussed the importance of Planned Parenthood, their concerns over healthcare and the impact to communities when the ACA is disassembled. They discussed the rights of women to govern their own bodies and not have their reproductive rights politicized and legislated. They expressed deep concerns over the enormous conflicts of interest, nepotism, and ethics complaints with the new administration, and its stance on climate change (Chinese hoax?!). They spoke at length about the troubling lack of qualifications (and far worse) displayed by nominees like Jeff Sessions and Betsy DeVos (Michiganders have an especial interest in DeVos as her particular brand of stupidity has negatively impacted education in many of our communities). Our diverse speakers shared what it is like to be a member of a group targeted by the new administration – an immigrant, a Muslim, someone of the LGBTQ community. There was a lot of intersectional feminism.  And they talked about what we could do to share our concerns and make sure our voices are heard in appropriate and constructive ways.

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Sadly, our efforts have been received by the administration’s supporters in some typical yet disappointing ways. I see people commenting on FB  that they want us to shut up, that people’s minds aren’t changed no matter how “righteous” the message. There are memes about how great it is that Trump got a bunch of “fat women” to walk more. A Republican senator from Mississippi, who I won’t link to because he shouldn’t get any more attention than he already has, commented that if we have money for all those tattoos and piercings, why do we want someone to pay for our birth control? Pretty standard, unoriginal stuff – not exactly incisive wit here, people. It doesn’t surprise me a bit that our detractors can’t address our actual issues, they have to fall back on completely irrelevant and superficial issues like how we look. Echoes of the Trump’s emphasis on “Perfect 10’s”, maybe. However, there are those whose tone turns quite ugly, such as the Indiana GOP rep who posted a picture of women being pepper sprayed with a comment that we should all get this treatment as our “participation trophy”. Apparently not a lot of experts on the amendments to the US Constitution in that bunch, either. I’m sorry about your politicians, Indiana and Mississippi. Really.

And of course all of the Tweeting and “alternative facts”. SAD

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I think if anything, this toxic political season and my deep disgust for what this president stands for have taught me that there is still a lot of intolerance, ignorance, and hate in our country, and even in a lot of us. I know that I frequently feel a rise of venom in my heart when confronted with these attitudes. There’s a lot of people I’d love to punch. But instead I’ve already spent more time writing my senators than ever and I guess if there’s a silver lining in this it’s that Trump has made an activist out of me – and, it seems, a lot of others.

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loose ends

The house has been empty and quiet this week with Miss L spending time with her dad & his fam, so I’ve been a bit at loose ends. Weeks like this can be tough for me as it’s easy to fall into a morass of missing her / hoping I’m a good mum / feeling guilty for having alone time / feeling guilty about spending time with Jax & his kids without her / hoping she’s having a good time with people she really loves and who really love her but also hoping with a small selfish part of me that she misses ME too = a lot of conflicting feelings that I’m sure single mums will relate to. Suffice it to say, although I really couldn’t be luckier / happier / more blessed about our blended family situation – in which all adults are incredibly mature and genuinely kind and loving – I still have a LOT of personal issues of my own to work through. No surprise, as I know I am still a work in progress, but I am committed to trying to put my own feelings to one side to do the best I can for Miss L in every stage of her life. Roots and wings, as my own mom told me, roots and wings.

So, as I mentioned, I spent some time at Jax’s house, made dinner for his crew and got some major loving from Izzy.

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I did some running and have some more to do this weekend. I’m at the point in my training where I am seeing and feeling results – both good and bad. My times and endurance are better, but my legs feel crummy – “sprung”, as I call it. My calves, ankles, and shins are full of tight, red-hot wires that pull and twitch. Everything south of my knees aches. 8 miles tomorrow.

I finished “Wolf Lake”, a gloomy wintery mystery by John Verdon, and just started “Ink and Bone” by Lisa Unger. I have so many books going that I don’t know where I am at any given moment. “Ink and Bone” is my actual physical library book – for bedtime and “serious” reading. I’m listing to “Her Fearful Symmetry” on an audio disc borrowed from our paralegal, and “The Likeness” by Tana French on Audible while I run. In between – for cross training on the elliptical or sitting around unexpectedly waiting for someone – I have “The Forgotten Garden” by Kate Morton on my old Kindle.

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At work, there is a kerfuffle over whether the town hall doors (where we keep the office supplies, refrigerators, microwaves, trash, etc) should remain open or closed. I actually heard a heated meeting about this in a conference room on the other side of my office wall. “We’ve been doing it this way for FOURTEEN YEARS!!!” “It’s a black and white issue to me.” “WHAT IF SOMEONE IS CARRYING HOT SOUP AND CAN’T OPEN THE DOOR?!”

I’m starting to get heirloom tomatoes and I’m watching “I Am Not Your Guru” about Tony Robbins. Tomorrow I get to pick up Miss L and we head directly to my brother’s house for our annual trip to the carnival. I love the creepy small town carnival. I always think I might see a ghost.

horrible timing 

Is it normal that the prospect of a weeklong beach vacation is currently filling me with sick anxiety? 

Mild agoraphobia runs in my family and although Jax & I and our combined kiddos have a great trip planned, the few days before leaving are filled with errands, long days at work, last minute scrambles, emails, and scribbled lists. The thought of being displaced for a week is difficult and I know most people would think it is crazy to feel like this. And believe me, I completely understand what a first world problem it is to feel anxious about taking a lovely long relaxing vacation and I know many people would love to have this to worry about. I get it and am as exasperated about it as any of you, dear readers.

Once, in my twenties, I had to take a work trip from Atlanta to South Carolina. It was a bad time in my life and working from my apartment made my tendencies more pronounced. I had a tiny, closed off little world that I felt completely safe and protected in, every day, and when I had to leave it, I got off-kilter. I got on the road and was assaulted by horrible anxiety about my cats and whether I’d locked my door, turned off the coffee pot, etc. Over an hour into the trip, I turned around and drove back to Atlanta. Yes, the only way I could combat that anxiety was to lose all of that time and go back to check. After that, if I had to leave for any period of time, I would lock my door and then scratch myself with the door key. If my anxiety started, I would look at the scratch on my wrist and know I had locked up.

Being on an antidepressant has changed me for the better in a myriad of ways, but some things are still a struggle and right now I’m there. 

The major trigger, currently, is that my cats have lapsed back into redirected aggression behavior. The timing couldn’t be worse.


They went from the above pictured calm, peaceful behavior, sleeping contentedly together, to violent, uncontrollable fighting over July 4. I don’t know if it is the result of fireworks and firecrackers, or a neighborhood cat or other animal in the yard. All I know is that Miss L & I came home to Emmett barricaded in my closet, too afraid to come downstairs to eat or use the box, and sporting a new cut on his nose to match the scar from the past serious bout of redirected aggression. He was hoarse from growling and hissing.


Who would have thought that this big gentle fluffbutt could be the aggressor?

They have been on Prozac since the last bout, which took place last winter, and I really thought we’d kicked it. This new setback is devastating. The timing is horrible, for one. They will have to be locked in separate rooms during my trip, and my ex will be checking on them. Thank God for friendly relations with my ex, I don’t think I could trust anyone else in close proximity to help while I’m gone. 

It’s also devastating because I feel like we’ve tried everything. Separations, pet behavior specialist, meds, and there is no long term solution. Keeping them separate and on meds is no life for them and creates immense stress for me. But I can’t imagine rehoming one of them. 


So I’m making my vacation plans with a heavy heart and if I didn’t have Miss L eagerly looking forward to fun in the sun with us, and Jax, who has done so much work to have this be a great trip, and has issues of his own that he has to overcome to go, I would consider canceling. Feeling anxious and out of control is not a good thing for me, but I will just have to get through it and figure things out when we get back.

the new normal?

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Spring is an exhausting time. This spring in particular has challenged my ability to stay balanced.

I pride myself on having a good work ethic and being conscientious about staying on top of things at my job. I don’t require myself to be an executive, the most competitive or driven person, I don’t need to have regular promotions or kudos. I am primarily self-propelled and have an internal gauge that tells me that I am being compensated more than fairly and requires me to earn that compensation through diligent accomplishment of tasks and contribution of some value to the organization. There’s no formula to it. It’s just how I feel when I wake up in the morning – knowing that I did a lot of work the prior day, that if there *are* ugly surprises waiting for me when I go into the office that they aren’t the result of my laziness or procrastination or poor performance. If I can feel like that about myself, then whatever happens at work sort of slides off me. People can like me or dislike me, I can get criticism or pressure, and as long as I know I’ve given it my best, I could care less. In general I find that I am harder on myself than Widget Central is, and so this philosophy has served me fairly well.

Since I had Miss L, however, balance in my life is also something that I fiercely protect. I don’t want to be an executive because in my opinion, the math just doesn’t work out. My time with her and for myself is worth far more to me than promotions or more money.

So I try to balance my work, my life with L, and my need for personal alone time. Lately I’ve also had to balance Jax and that’s a good addition, but it’s an addition. It’s a delicate tight rope walk and when work explodes with board meetings, projects, travel, long hours and piling responsibilities, and the yard explodes with new growth and greenery, and Miss L still needs lunches packed and homework signed off and cuddles and love, and Jax is working hard to include me in his life and his family’s, well, it can get pretty busy. The house doesn’t get cleaned as much as it should and I still haven’t done the inaugural lawn mow and I’ve plowed through all of my freezer and pantry stockpiles because my grocery trips are swift drive-bys for milk, meat, bread, avocados and wine (the staples!!)

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Sarge listening to a late-night call with our head office in Japan and feeling as annoyed as I was about the intellectual property provisions being set forth.

Next week I’m off again to our Mexico facilities and I couldn’t be less excited. A week of foreign travel is draining and after this hurdle, I have another trip to Japan in May to dread – right in the middle of flower and planting season. Bleah!!!!

I keep telling myself that things will settle down but I think I’ve now been telling myself that for a year. This might be the new normal.

blunt force treatments and glass boxes.

magic in the city.

magic in the city.

It started out as a small patch that itched and felt like a heat rash. By yesterday midday, it had grown to a fist-sized area of maddening vesicles surrounded by a bruise. I walked into the Assistant General Counsel’s office to ask her about something and before I could finish my sentence, she was eyeing me.

“What the fuck are you digging at on your back?” she demanded.

I hadn’t noticed I was absently scratching while I talked to her.

“Lemme see,” she said, and I shut the door so I could lift up my shirt and show her the patch.

“Yeah, that’s shingles,” she said. “Call your fucking doctor and get in right away, cuz if you’re not already in terrible pain, you will be soon.”

And lo, I found myself at my old familiar Urgent Care. It seems to be exclusively staffed with eastern European doctors who are prone to viewing my ailments as invading armies that must be stamped out and annihilated with blunt force. No delicate sophisticated treatments for them; they prescribe me antibiotics the size of horse pills, a scorched earth strategy of leaving no small writhing germ behind. I like that.

In retrospect, it has been a pretty stressful summer, both at work and on the romantic front, so it’s not surprising that I find myself in bed dizzy and drowsy with antivirals, slathered in lidocaine cream. There have been scandals and sackings at work, investigations and interviews with stone-faced executives who tell you later behind closed doors that they just wish someone would take this cup from them. And on the romantic front, a meeting and a break up and a make up with someone that I am frighteningly fond of, and all the complications that arise from that.

Dating at my age and as a divorced working mom is an adventure and not for the thin-skinned. The men I’ve met have also been divorced and with children, only they’ve been divorced for much longer than I have. They seem open to having a relationship, to letting someone in, but being on their own has hardened them somehow. They say the right things, they do the right things, their hearts are right there, but closed off somehow, in a glass box. I can see it, but I can’t touch it. They know they can do it on their own, they have made homes and a family for their children, they are wary and protective of having that disturbed, even positively, by another factor to balance.

And I completely understand it because I feel the same way. I know I can survive. I love my home, I know I can make it on my own and be happy with Miss L and my job and the blessings that I have; I want more, but that ‘more’ will have to be pretty incredible, and it won’t come at the expense of what I’ve already earned through blood, sweat, and tears. However, I’m still flexible, and open, and the men I date, their glass boxes have grown heavier, shatterproof. I see that and I don’t want to become that. I don’t know how you date and not grow increasingly protective and closed off, but it seems that at some point, you have to be able to let things penetrate, even if it’s scary and hard.

So I have been spending time with a man that I really like. It’s a challenge, there have been stops and starts and many feelings of ‘this is too hard’ for both of us. But so far, we have struggled through it, and I am hopeful that our friendship will last. I’ve let him into my house, which is a huge step for me, to let someone see the flaws and beauty and small chaos where my private heart lives. A couple of times, I’ve had to tell myself, ‘I’m really proud of you, this is a big step, I know that everything isn’t perfect but it’s okay to let someone see that’. Deep breath, open the door, let someone in.

It’s nice to have someone to go for walks with and sit on the porch with, and see movies with. I don’t know if it will be more than that, but time will tell if we’re able to continue the process of letting each other in. I feel good about going slow with that. It’s hard enough to trust a single person, and incorporate them into your life; we have to know we can do that before we start with other aspects. I hope our glass boxes slowly dissipate, but for right now, it’s enough that we can meet in the middle and know we can survive.