Friday, December 24, 2010

Feeling Powerless

At Becka's first week check up, she had a slight temperature. That combined with something about her heart the doctor didn't like led her to tell us to go straight to Duke University Medical Center (We were in Durham, NC then). Do not pass go, do not collect $200. Don't even stop back by your house. Just GO.

Thus began the worst and most heartbreaking day Charlie and I had in our few young years as parents.

The sense of powerlessness, watching your tiny infant poked repeatedly with needles by med students who had never worked on a child so small... of watching them try to find and place a catheter... knowing they'd have to make her scream for a chest x-ray all tore us apart.

Nothing that came after... not the cardiologist visits, the diagnosis, the pediatric cardiologist visits compared with the gut-wrenching feeling of being unable to comfort or fix things for our child that came that day.

Last night, I sat with Becka in the Emergency Room while she watched the same torturous tests being done on her baby. Despite the doctor's assertion that there is a big difference between he anatomy of a 1 week old and that of a 5 month old, it was the same. Repeated attempts to find a vein. Repeated attempts to access her tiny urethra and the knowledge they'd have to make little Elena scream to get a good chest x-ray.

It was almost eerie. Not just seeing Elena and Becka going through it all but being in the same position of powerlessness when it came to comforting my baby. I could hold her while she cried, whisper words of reassurance, remind her Elena would quickly forget... that all these tests are standard these days and it's a good thing... but when it came right down to it... I couldn't fix my baby's hurt.

I whispered to Becka at one point that this was a part of motherhood. There will be times in Elena's future when she'll go through something or experience some pain Becka will not be able to take away.

Super Mom or no... some boo-boo's can't be kissed away.

It's a hard lesson to learn as a parent. I wish Becka didn't have to learn it so vividly or so soon... but I know it will make her a stronger mother and woman.

Still, it was a heartbreaking evening for all.

But then they finished with the torture and we could comfort Elena and giggle at her pathetic but adorable attempts to find a thumb on her taped up hands. She was fascinated by the gauze wrapping and small splint holding her hand still for the IV. When they took it off, I couldn't tell if her crying was because another nurse was messing with her or because she wanted to keep that interesting thing on her arm.

Elena will be fine. I know that.

Looking at the strength of her mother I know, she too... will be fine.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Different Thinkers

Several months ago, I watched the HBO film Temple Grandin about a woman with Autism who has opened many doors for herself and for others with ASD. John included a photo of Ms. Grandin and Claire Danes, the actress who played her, in his report on ASD.

The movie is airing on HBO again this month. Charlie and I watched it together the other day and it sparked some interesting conversations. Now Rachel and Krys have seen it, the conversations have continued.

At the beginning of the movie, Ms. Grandin states she "thinks in pictures". Until discussing the movie with others, it never occurred to me, except in passing, that there are people who don't think in pictures. Holy cow, really?

I mean, I think in pictures. I make connections in pictures and concepts. It's why I have such a tendency to write or speak in analogies. It's how I think.

Apparently Charlie, Rachel and John also think in pictures.

When Krys said "I don't", Rachel and I were both taken aback.
"How do you think?"
"In words."
"Like how?"

It went on for a little bit, with Krys trying to explain her thought process to a confused Rachel and me, while we all sort of tried to imagine what it was like for others.

Krys mentioned how the difference in the way she and Steve think creates the occasional conflict. He's a picture thinker too.

Then Charlie and Daniel got home and we asked them the question, "How do you think? Do you see pictures, words, concepts, what?"

Charlie thinks in pictures, Daniel in words. We already know John thinks in pictures... We texted Becka to ask but didn't get an answer (yet) and so the conversation continued.

My brain hurts.

To be honest, it might not even be a good idea to try to tackle writing about it... but I haven't written in a few days and so I'm at the keyboard dribbling on about the first thing that comes to mind.

Did I mention my brain hurts?

On a side note... I just had to fix the can crusher. We have a solid steel can crusher mounted to a piece of 2x4. I made the mistake of tossing some Altoid Mini tins into the recycling bin and John got the brilliant idea to try crushing them. While he does think in pictures and, often, mathematically, the addition of Attention Deficit means he is too impulsive to think ahead... which means he and his siblings can break darn near anything under the guise of experimenting. *face palm* On the other hand, I'm Monster Mom and can fix darn near anything. So they're out of my hair for a few more minutes and maybe I'll finish a post without 75,000 interruptions.

So yeah, back to thinking in pictures...

Seriously? There's another way?

No matter how Krys and Daniel try to describe it, I can get it on an intellectual level but... thinking about is like trying to snow ski on a hill of gravel. (SEE? Pictures.)

At first, we discussed the idea that perhaps thinking in pictures is an Autistic Spectrum thing. But that doesn't work because of six people in the family on the Spectrum, at least two think in words.

But then... if they see the words in their heads, isn't that the same as thinking in pictures?

I know from the different skills and strengths of my kids that thinking in one way doesn't mean they'll have the same area of gifts. Some who think in pictures are brilliant at Maths... and then there's Krys who thinks in words but talks Calculus for fun.

Daniel thinks in words and he's a musician. I think in pictures and learn more toward being an artist.

Also, some of us are more intuitive and others more logical in their thinking... but it doesn't match up with the pictures/concepts/words thing.

Is there any kind of connection to be made between the way a person thinks and their areas of particular strength or talent?

*head desk* I need Ibuprofen.

So, before I think myself into a migraine, I'll ask... how do you think? Pictures, concepts or words? Or even something different? Can you describe it?

Becka finally responded. Her answer? "Not generally in pictures. It goes in this order: words, concepts, pictures."

I figured she'd say words... but then, she's another artist... and so is Rachel.

This does not help me organize this puzzle into something I can assemble... dang it!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Q&A Episode 1

In your report you mentioned that people with autism related problems often have specific talents - things they excel at. What would you say are your particular strengths? 

Creating, imagining and anything in the inventing category. Sci-fi things (space ships, plasma based weapons etc.) clay (what ever you can make out of a ball of clay) building blocks, especially LEGO®.

These were all built on ROBLOX

Paper planes: The Planez Republic® is my pure creation. I create new planes by simply adding brake flaps, ailerons (for maneuvers), elevons (for pitch), rudders (yaw). Lastly is real life building (non-LEGO®). For this I need some supplies. But I have the hovering disc, titan ( a gigantic ship using the hovering disc technology to fly, and is an air staging and cargo aircraft).

 This is your friendly autistic human shaped awesomeness.

Saturday, December 18, 2010


John was always a wonderful source of interestingly pronounced words. "To-member" is still one of my favorites and one we still use around the house. It's funny how different words the kids used have become part of the family vernacular...

The more time I spend with Elena and Dora, the more little things like that I remember. Krys and I were talking yesterday about one of my Mum's favorite memories of her.

When Mum came to stay for Becka's birth, Krys found an eager and appreciative audience for her antics. To this day, Mum still talks about Krys standing on the coffee table, announcing her next trick with "Fuh-paducing, Disten Fedders!". This was usually followed by a song or even something as simple as showing how far she could jump. Whatever Krys did, she was rewarded with clapping and "Brava".

Playing with Elena this morning, I noticed her fascination with the remote control. She's not allowed TV and seems to know it as she's constantly trying to crane her neck to see the screen if it's on. I don't know if she's made the connection between the interesting box and the remote, but she certainly wanted it today.

Rather than let her slobber all over a working unit, I found an old one, removed the batteries and gave it to her. She didn't want it. She wanted the one Grandma had and it made me laugh because it reminded me of her Auntie Krys and Uncle Daniel when they were little ones.

Krys loved Sesame Street... You know, the cool one, before it got all PC and stupid. At about 14 months, she was interacting with the program... usually Elmo. On one occasion, I was transported to motherly ecstasy at the vision of my brilliant first child trying to reach through the screen to find Elmo hidden under a blanket.

Without going into regrets about letting my little ones watch the boob tube, I have to admit there were funny moments... especially with that lovely and tempting remote control. Even at 15 months, Krys knew she wasn't allowed to touch the gray toy Daddy and Mommy used. It was one of the no-nos... along with pulling all the tissues out of every kleenex box and endlessly playing with the magical lamps that turned on and off with the slighted touch on the base.

One night, Charlie and I were snuggled watching a movie while Krys played on the couch next to us. When the channel started changing, Charlie and I looked at each other then at Krys. The little turkey took one look at us, glanced at the forbidden remote in her hands, threw it behind her and sat on it. She then gave us the innocent smile we eventually learned to associate with trouble. We still tease her about her very first fib and instinct to hide the evidence.

With Daniel, it was a whole other story. Like the rest of the family, he was a strong willed child... but he had a determination to do things according to his rules that rivaled (rivals) all his siblings combined.

When Daniel was 3, the master bedroom had 2 remotes. One for the VCR and a universal remote that controlled all the electronics. The universal remote was, of course, much cooler looking than the other one. It was bigger, had more buttons and was almost exclusively kept on Daddy's side of the bed. Like all the kids before him, Daniel knew the "mote-troll" was off-limits. (mote-troll is another word/phrase still used by Charlie and me) Off-limits or no, it didn't stop him one day from stalking over to me and snatching the cool remote right from my hands. Before I could say a word, he put the remote on the night stand, his hands on his hips and his face in as stern an expression as he could manage and informed me "NO! Daddy's MOTE!".

It was one of those moments when the desire to correct one of my kids for ill-behavior was totally over-ridden by the futile attempt to keep a straight face. All I could think was, Yup, he's all male. When I later told Charlie, his response was the usual, "That's my boy!"


I'm excited to see the adventures Krys and Becka have with their own strong-willed little ones. In so many ways, their little girls remind me of their Mamas and I can only imagine the stories they'll inspire.

Just out of curiosity, back to the first paragraph... Do you have words exclusive to your family? What is the origin? Do you ever accidentally use them around non-family members and get strange looks? Share, please.

Friday, December 17, 2010

Insensitive? *shrugs* Valid? Definitely

Hmm, why are you such a magnet to demented asocial whelps?

I know, insensitive question - but visceral never the same. A sanctuary should have its rules, and those who seek its shelter are duty bound to obey them with humility and gratitude.... Remember, they are refugees not guests.

Perhaps you should try and arrange for a howling raging mob of villagers baying for the blood of the sanctuary seekers waiting to lynch them the minute they step out of the sacred precincts. That should keep them in line and well behaved?

First, let me say this comment/question is one of the reasons I'm daily grateful for this person's friendship. He has a way of being brutally honest in a way I don't find offensive, but which usually makes me giggle... even if the truth of it can be uncomfortable.

Demented, asocial whelps.

Sadly, when it come to the age group in question (18-28), that's pretty much the majority. No joke. I know there are a lot of wonderfully raised, responsible, mature young people out there... but in America, they are a distinct minority.

I could go on a long-winded Dennis Milleresque rant about the ills of American society (because culture would be a misnomer) but I don't think that was the intent of the question. The rant would be worth doing one day but I'll save it for when the emotions are there to fuel something spectacular.

I know, insensitive question - but visceral never the same. A sanctuary should have its rules, and those who seek its shelter are duty bound to obey them with humility and gratitude.... Remember, they are refugees not guests.

This is very true, and a lesson Charlie and I have learned by degrees, sometimes quite painfully. We have, for years, labored under the delusion that by living the example, people would either choose to follow the example or, I don't know... learn by osmosis? I think I really believed, especially with Cameron, that living an example of personal responsibility would encourage her to learn the same.

We totally missed the truth that humans as a species don't really like change... especially change that involves work on their part.

So, combine a pair of bleeding heart, New Testament Christians (ie... people who believe in following Jesus command to give not only your tunic, if asked, but your cloak also) with wounded young people who never had a decent example and you have a recipe for disaster.

Charlie and I have always had difficulty with the word "No". It's one of the reasons we could blow through a six figure income each year and not understand why we were still living month to month. If the kids broke something, we replaced it. If they asked for something, they got it. If we had a whim (what Charlie used to call Command Decisions) we'd buy something stupidly expensive that we didn't need. And if someone came to us with a need, we did everything we could to meet it. I'm grateful to say that when the bottom dropped out, the character we had tried to teach our kids shone through. They handled the change in financial circumstances better than Charlie and I.

We didn't get burned by a someone staying with us until Cameron came along. By that time, the six figure income was gone, the partners in the business venture Charlie had financed had cut him out of the business and we were living on the grace and generosity of extended family.

I was nearing integration and feeling oh so much stronger than ever before and Charlie and I genuinely thought we could handle a refugee of Cameron's caliber. We were so wrong.

I had my fill in under a year. It took Charlie nearly two... it took him until she started trying to get between him and me... but rather than tell her "it's time to go", he did all he could to keep the peace until she figured that out on her own. When she realized she could no longer manipulate anyone in the house to do her bidding and that everyone avoided her, she got the clue. I regret we all played the passive-aggressive game... but it happened and we've accepted the consequences.

Fast forward two years... (we were slowly getting back on our feet financially, without the reliance on extended family) and the quartet of young men who stayed with us for various lengths of time from August '09- July '10. Of the four, only one was a flaming lunatic. We did create a lease of sorts. We drew up a written set of absolute house rules. That set of rules is why "God is Watching Man" was out in only three weeks. He had one week to give us an idea of what we were dealing with... a week of game playing where he tried to manipulate the rules and a final week only because Charlie was kind enough to give him seven days notice. On the seventh day, it took informing him the police would be called before he finally packed his stuff and left.

Since the last of the young men (Chris) moved out this summer, we haven't had any other lodgers. For the time being, we do not intend to. Grand-babies are the priority right now and they get the majority of my energy. There simply isn't any left for babes in their teens and twenties.

For all the stress and strain, I don't regret the people we've had stay with us. Each has taught us important lessons. Each of them has brought their blessings... okay, except maybe for Tim.... but even there, you could call a new set of family jokes a blessing of sorts. All you have to do is remind someone God is watching and any tense mood is eased.

For the future, it's still and probably always will be, our dream to have an open home for those in need. We're taking lessons from our own experiences and from a local shelter for abused women on the kinds of rules necessary when dealing with wounded people. I don't plan to ever allow another profoundly mentally ill person into our home. We simply aren't equipped... and we've found that those who have come through our doors are not in a place where they can admit to the need for help beyond our skills.

From here out, it's written contracts and specific consequences. Follow the rules or out the door.

Society isn't going to get any better. That's simply the reality. There will always be people in need. If we can, when we can, we'll do what we can to help. But the days of being doormats are over.

So even there, we can thank Tim. He was the lesson that finally taught us that 'keeping the peace' is an illusion and when you need to speak up, you'd better take ownership of your home and speak. Even if you have to do it at the top of your lungs with the rest of the family cheering you on.

I'd love to think that any guest we have in our home would be well behaved and grateful... and there have been many who have been just that. They make up the majority. We're not deluded enough to think we'll never have another whack job under our roof... but I'm willing to take the chance for the nine (or twelve) others who find what they need here.

Hope that answered your question.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Open for Questions

As per Jarred's query, yes, John is taking questions.

He said to feel free to ask questions about what it's like for him to be Autistic (or as a friend said "AWEtistic").

Post here or on the link to this post on FaceBook.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

ASD According to John

The topic of my report is Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). It is estimated that as many as 1 in 80 people are affected by ASD. I have Autism and believe more people need to understand the difference between ASD and other genetic disorders like Mental Retardation or Cerebral Palsy. Most people with ASD, especially High Functioning Autism, like I have, are very intelligent and gifted in a wide variety of areas, such as art, science, mathematics and music.

            A genetic disorder is caused by abnormalities in genes or chromosomes. There are, sometimes, abnormalities in the chromosomes of an Autistic person. These are deletion, duplication, and inversion. Deletion is when some genes exist in one chromosome, but not the other. Duplication is when some genes have two matches on the second chromosome. Inversion is when some genes are just flipped upside down. Some scientists believe that Autism has specific genes for the different parts of the spectrum. Sometimes ASD can result in co-existing disorders, like epilepsy, mental illness, gastrointestinal issues, and sleep disorders. If a child is born with Autism, children afterwards are more likely to have ASD as well.

Above: deletion (1) duplication (2) and inversion (3).

There are strong genetic links to ASD but it is believed environment can also play a part in its development. Autism spectrum disorders are not illnesses. It is not a disease to be cured. Autism is about how the brain develops. Because Autism affects how a person thinks, feels and behaves, it affects every part of their life. Learning to live with ASD takes strength and dedication for the person and their family

Autism was discovered in 1943 by Leo Kanner. He believed Autism was caused by cold, unloving parents. This is a stigma that still exists. Scientists have since proven that of all the possible causes of ASD, poor parenting is not one of them. The National Alliance for Autism Research (NAAR) seeks to raise awareness and understanding of what is now the most common of all developmental disorders.

Children with ASD tend to write slowly or have poor handwriting. They are often focused on things with such intensity, they can’t break free to pay attention to what’s going on around them. When told to describe a person’s face, they have difficulty completing the task. They usually have disabilities such as social and communication difficulty, because it is often hard for them to read or understand another’s intent or emotions.  People with ASD have advantages as well. They have a greater ability to find small objects in a cluttered field. An example of this would be: noticing an object someone else can’t find. They are often gifted in many areas.

There are five forms of ASD: Autism, Asperger’s syndrome, Pervasive Development Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD-NOS), Rett’s syndrome, and Childhood Disintegrative Disorder. While the other forms of ASD affect mostly males, Rett’s syndrome affects female almost exclusively. Asperger’s syndrome has no significant language development delay, if any, and yet every other part of the Autistic spectrum shows this delay.

While some believe Autism is a disease to be cured, most High Functioning Autistics and people with Asperger’s Syndrome believe it is how we are wired. The focus for us is not on a cure but on learning to adapt the way we think and feel to a world that is very different to us. There are many support groups for people with ASD and their families. There are group therapies that help people with ASD understand the world around them and their part in it. There are treatments to help us manage the overwhelming amount of information we absorb at all times. It’s the reason many people with ASD retreat into repetitive or unhealthy behaviors, to get a break from the world.

For me, Autism is less of a disability, more of a puzzle missing just one single piece, and managing it for me is like saying “So what? One piece isn’t there. Just one. No reason to throw away 999 pieces just because the 1000th isn’t there.”

John not only received 100% on his project, the teacher asked to keep it to share with other teachers. His project was the only one in book form. It goes without saying, he was the only person who served as his own visual aid. ;-) All other projects were done using PowerPoint or poster board... so John was extra proud of finding a unique way the do his report and that his teacher was impressed enough to want to share it. HOW AWESOME! 

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Remembering to Breathe

Today has been spent in varying degrees of massive anxiety/panic. I'm irritated with myself for getting lost in it... but in some ways, I think it was needed. Needed in that I don't let myself express my concern, worries, fears, hopes, dreams, disappointments where John's Autism are concerned. It's all about keeping a level head and a supportive face. Staying as consistent as possible without going insane and loving him when he has his distinctly unlovable moments.

It hit hard today. Today, I have been a quivering, hyperventilating, twitchy mess. I finally sat down with Krys while she and Dora were visiting the kittens and allowed myself to put my head on her shoulder and cry. Just a little bit... but still. I'm sure after everyone has gone to bed and it's quiet in the house, I'll disturb Charlie's sleep and ramble on about every rational and irrational thought and feeling that's come up today.

I feel like so much is riding on John's report. This is his chance to stand up and say he is different but not "wrong". He has disabilities and differences but is not mentally retarded or mentally deficient in any way. He's different and for every area where he struggles to fit in and be understood, there's an area where he excels and shines.

He's wearing a T-shirt I made today that he considers to be one of the required visual aids. It's his way of saying "I AM WHO I AM. DEAL WITH IT"

I'm so proud of him... but so scared at the same time. Part of me wants to ask the assistant principal who has been such a support to him to be there, if possible. I want to support him standing up for himself in an intelligent, articulate way... but I'm Mama... and I want someone to have his back.

I wish the house would get quiet. I wish they'd all hurry and go to bed. I want to curl up with Floppy (who moved back into the bed a couple of months ago) and wait until I have Charlie to myself.

John's got his crap together. He's good to go. I'm a slobbering mess. Lord, help me. I need some peace and strength so I won't be too worn out from worrying to rejoice with John tomorrow when he tells me he kicked butt and took an "A".

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Four Feet, Ten Inches of Brave

 Last night, John brought us information on a Science project he has due next week. He asked if we could help him research and put it together.

Looking over the information and the rubric, I was struck speechless. The students were given a choice of two projects... The first is to do a Cell Analogy using 10 of the 11 organelles. The___ is like the ___ because... Then each analogy needs to be illustrated.

The second choice is to do a report (which will be read to class) and a visual aid on a genetic disorder. How and when the disorder was discovered, how it affects a person and how it is treated. It should also include pictures of characteristics of the disorder or any pictures that go along with it.

John chose the latter. His choice of subject? Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Wanting to research ASD doesn't surprise me. Using the context of a school assignment to justify it also doesn't surprise me. Choosing to stand up in a class which includes kids who have been calling him 'retard', who have egged him on when he has outbursts and then tease him and who have (as kids in groups tend to do) shown little to no compassion or understanding... and seek to teach them something about himself is quite simply the gutsiest thing I can imagine for him to do. I'm in awe.

And a little scared. I'm the queen of 'what ifs'. What if it backfires? What if the pressure is too much and he melts down before or during the report? What if one of the little jerks in class decides to spout off in the hallway between class?

But what if he gets through it? What if he speaks with confidence, giving examples of other pretty awesome people with ASD? What if one or two of his classmates learn something and grow a little tolerance and understanding? What if the sheer ballsiness of a decision to stand up for himself in this way earns the respect of those teachers who still look at him as a whiny, spoiled child? What if he learns some wonderful things about himself and can stand a little taller, with a little more pride?

I'm cheering him on.

And I hope to stand up to a few things in my own life.

Kiddo, to call you an inspiration is an understatement. Keep being you. "Teh Awesome"

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Yeah, Sometimes it's Like That

Me: *jumps about 3 feet* Why?
Charlie: *still yelling in a frightening enthusiastic way* WE'RE GOING OUT!
Me: Why?
Charlie: Because I am NOT going to sit in this house all day and I'm in too much pain to go out alone so you're coming too!

*sighs* He's right... there is living to do and if we're going to go do it we have to change out of our shorts and sports bra (me, not him... duh) and wear real clothes and go do it.

But some days... well, lately it's most days... that involves more complicated steps than I have energy to complete. The mere fact that I'm making coffee again rather than living on Stōk Shots is a pretty big step up. The total and utter pathos of my life recently is embarrassing to acknowledge. My almost total uselessness serves not to allow for rest but the echoes of past voices (and not the cool ones) I fought hard to silence saying all the condemning things I fought hard to disprove.

While it's true that my body has betrayed me (I'm not going to list all the ways) there is still no reason to give in to pain and wallow. Besides, doing that doesn't relieve the pain, it only makes it more painful when I do try to get something accomplished. No pain, no gain. If I want to be more mobile, I have to move. If I want the continued use of my arms and hands, I have to do more than use them, I have to exercise them properly to prevent further repetitive use problems.

I constantly berate myself for becoming so passive. But the pro-active Marisa stuck herself in a cramped little cage of emotions and lies then forgot she had the key to get out again. Berating myself doesn't get me out... getting out gets me out.

Oh, so poetic.

Charlie and I are on our way out. We're going to do something. We're going to visit places and accomplish things. Or we might just go to WalMart and buy groceries. Whatever, at least it'll be out.

Have you ever let yourself get caught in a vicious cycle?

Monday, December 6, 2010

Road to Recovery

I was asked the other day about sharing more of my road to recovery. Many of the people reading this blog were with me on the 6 plus years of blogging that chonicled my life as a wife, a mother and a multiple with, at times, as many as 10 active alters in my day to day life. I stopped blogging rather abruptly in '07 or '08... I'm really not sure about the exact time.

Since then, what writing I've done has been sporadic at best, and pretty avoidant and whiny at worst. I haven't written about my integration, not because the process of becoming one mind was traumatizing or difficult... but because going through that process while sharing a home with a profoundly ill person who had no recognition of her compulsive need to control every aspect of our lives was hell. Pure and simple. By the time she moved out, a few months before the process of integration was completed, I was in the worst place I'd been emotionally since I first began the road to healing from DID.

For a long time I held resentment that a period of my life I should have been able to treasure and to process in peace was dominated by the constant ME ME ME of another. (I was even reamed by one person for not allowing her to say goodbye... because, yeah... my healing was about you.)

For a really long time, I've found it difficult to separate her and another's effect on my family with my desire to write about that period of time... how could I talk about my journey without including the person from whom I could only be physically separated by literally hiding in my room? Or the person who made up the other corner of a sick and desperately co-dependent triangle? How could I write about trying to navigate becoming one person while also battling a crippling depression, triggered in large part by the person who fought not only to destroy my marriage, but to talk my husband into committing me and allowing her to raise my children... because, of course, she was the more capable. How could I write about that time in MY life without (childish, I know) giving THEM the satisfaction of being part of the story? Especially as I had, on many occasions, been expressly told I was "not allowed" to write about them?

WHAT THE HELL? So I have to shut away 2+ years of my life because I might say something less than flattering or worse, the TRUTH about you? And what the hell was wrong with me that I allowed myself to be emotionally bullied into complying with such a sickeningly selfish demand? Why did I allow myself to cut off the outlet responsible for the recovery I had attained to that point?

Bitter as this question may sound... how can someone possibly delude herself into believing she was nothing but a positive influence on my kids when only two of the kids were willing to see her when she visited today? How can anyone think they knew best for a child I knew to be dealing with an autistic spectrum disorder when her entire approach was a military style 'my way or the highway' approach? When John was told a few months ago that she might come to visit, he said "If she comes to this house I'm going to lock myself in my room until she's gone."

I know she felt rejected when told that she couldn't come to the house. I know she was certain only Charlie would go to see her at a local restaurant... the shock on her face when she saw Rachel, Daniel and me was obvious. But however much she has blamed us for all that happened ("If you hadn't ____ then I wouldn't have ___ so it's really your fault") she cannot expect the entire family to welcome her back with open arms. This house is a shelter and sanctuary... I will not allow someone into this house who threatens that... even if it's not the intent.


I've come to the realization that I've blamed her for not writing. But it is not she who whispers in my ear that the crap will hit the fan if I write honestly about that time. I'm the one holding myself back.

I want to write about that time but not if it means also talking about Cameron, Kelly, Eli, Trish, Julie, Kate, Lex, Matreshka and all the other people hurt not just by Cameron and Kelly but by me because I chose to "Keep The Peace" and allow them their way because I was too chicken to stand up and say "NO MORE".

Most of those people are, I'm grateful to say, back in my life in various ways. Cameron and Kelly are not... and for whatever healing and reconciliation may come from today's visits... I'm not willing to allow them any closer than the periphery of my life.

If either of them, though I doubt they'll look that far beyond themselves, decides to hunt down this blog and read it. SO BE IT.

I'm not making any plans about writing... I find deciding I'll do it pretty much cements the fact that I won't. I'll just say this... if it comes to me... if there is inspiration to share a portion of that time... both the wonderfully beautiful healing that came in the midst of devastation and loss and that loss... then I'll do it. The "Rules" be damned. It's my life. My journey. No one but God gets to direct it.

If I could come out of hiding long enough to face two people I'd have been happy never to see face to face again... and do it with grace and a choice to believe the best (after the initial panic and 'what ifs') then I can face the years I keep trying to stuff in an ever growing box that threatens to squash me like a bug.

For crying out loud! Nothing we dealt with having those two in my life at that time even compares with what The Crew and I overcame!

I may never be able to confront them face to face about the devastation they leave in their wake (and not just in my life) but I can damn well confront myself. Writing about it does not give it or them power over my life... it serves to free me. Six years of honest outpouring in a little blogging community taught me that.

Now her 'things' are no longer in our care (forced responsibility), it's time to drop the rest of it and move on.

No promises Valerie... but I'll try to get there. If for no other reason than The Crew deserves to be remembered and honored this way.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Morning Hair

Okay, so remember a few posts back when I went on and on about my hair and promised myself I'd learn to accept it as it and get over myself and would post pics so I could perhaps be a little more objective?

So this is what it looks like in the morning when I've just stumbled out of bed, not yet put in my contacts and compulsively check Facebook. It's not so horribly scary from the back... but if Charlie and Rachel are to be believed (jury's out on that) I looked rather monstrous. Even before I made claw hands and started hissing at them for teasing me.

It would probably be good if I work on that posture... but it's only because I have to have my face that close to the screen to read.

Working hard at thinking of worthwhile topics and have even gone back to keeping a pad of paper close by to catch the weird things said in this house.

Feel free to offer subject suggestions because there's so much flying around in my brain these days it's hard to catch anything long enough to turn it into a post.

Tomorrow, I think will be a collection of things heard around the house.

Oh, and I've talked Krys into giving me a haircut. I'll wait 'til she's got the scissors in her hand before mentioning it to Charlie.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

They Say...

Money isn't everything... but apparently, at Wal-Mart, it can be purchased for $1.98.

Pretty impressive. Oh, and Rachel gets the credit for finding it. Good eye, Kiddo. So why couldn't you find the benadryl right under your nose... hmmm?

Anyway, my brain is still twitching so this is all I got tonight. Now I just have to remember what Everything looks like and on what aisle it can be found. Gots to get me more of that.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Perception vs. Reality

In a sleep deprived fog of hours spent trolling the intrawebz for things that would make me laugh when the temptation is to crawl in bed and see how long I can hold my breath... I started catching up on the adventures of one of the funniest writers in the blogiverse. After weeks and even months of allowing my own blog to gather dust while my circular thinking kept me paralyzed and unable to do much more than play time management games on gameshouse games, because beating those games proves I can actually manage time and accomplish something... even if it is totally fake.

Okay, there was supposed to be a wonderful sentence to end that paragraph and tie it into a cohesive little bow of rationalization. It didn't happen.

So, reading this other blog has given me the gift of laughing fluids out my nose and spastic-ally trying to shield the keyboard when laughing fits strike. It has also inspired me to decide "What The Heck" and blog whatever rambling nonsense can ooze its way from my frighteningly disordered sloth brain. I've been so tied up in my own convoluted restraint and protective wall things for so long that... did I mention I'm having a productive day if I manage to leave the house (or my room) for more than church?

I wrote a comment that turned into a blog post. The hours of composition in the pre-dawn light gave way to the first bit of writing I've done in recent memory that made me laugh to write it.

It even made me laugh to read it aloud to Charlie... and to rapid-fire edit 29 times in 20 minutes.

Charlie didn't seem to find it so funny. He didn't make a sound. (He now says that is because he had his Listening Hat on and was fighting not to laugh so he wouldn't get his butt chewed for not listening.)

Until I read him the one comment The entry has received... a very tentative and concerned seeming [hug] and then he bursts forth with belly laughter... and I think, that wasn't supposed to be the punchline. The humor was not meant to be in the very concern displayed by the well-meaning and loving individual(s) reading the post and thinking "Back away slowly, she's gonna blow!"

Even now, in a state of second, third and infinity guessing myself, I'm also rebelling... DAWGONEIT! This is a good thing! A little technicolor keyboard diarrhea is exactly what I need to break out of my self-imposed expectation to be the funniest, wisest, most awesomely radical Follower of Jesus willing to love the unlovable and not get caught up in the meaningless details like "is saying shit a sin?" person who is the just the epitome of all things bright, beautiful, poignant and still crap your pants funny in all the web.

I may never achieve that lofty if delusional status... but I can certainly acknowledge my brain is currently broken and hiding it ain't gonna fix it. Got to drag that craziness into the glaring light of an LCD monitor where it loses its fangs and shrivels with a high-pitched wicked witch of the west kind of keening cry before transforming into the Joy of the Lord best exemplified in the ideal Proverbs 31 Woman... Or at least can be revealed to be not quite so shamefully crazy as I'd feared.

But if I'm going to seem like I've lost my mind, I may as well enjoy it. SO I DON'T CARE THAT STATCOUNTER SAYS I'VE HAD 24+ UNIQUE VISITORS TO THE PREVIOUS POST WITH ONLY ONE ACTUAL COMMENT. I don't care that my stretched to the breaking point brain takes that to mean all at least 2 dozen people are quietly pitying my pathos...


I wouldn't object to the occasional reminder that people aren't waiting for the news of my commitment or even that they can relate to some of the scribbling...

BUT I DON'T CARE! really... if what I percieve to be milk-through your nose hysterical is actually frightening and disturbing to others... this is about HEALING!

Let the catharsis begin!

God is Watching!!! (Or What Was Supposed to Be a Comment to Hyperboleandahalf)

Last year we agreed to take in one of our nearly-adult kid's friends for a few weeks. NAK's friend was crazier than a shithouse rat and louder on his own than my rambunctious and ADD-riddled progeny had ever been as a group. Had I known before offering our couch that Jesus had recently healed this young man of Paranoid Schizophrenia after the latest round of hospitalization and ECT I might have been able to find a nice way of explaining that we had our legal limit of Crazy in the house already and would be toying with the laws of nature if we added even a little bit more. You know how he knew he was healed? Jesus stepped off the pages of his bible and told him so, to his face! And He told him in Olde English, because no matter what any historians want to believe... Jesus sounded like King James when He spoke and as a result the KJ version of the bible is THE ONLY ONE THAT CONTAINS TRUTH. All others are an abomination by their very existence.

But I transgress...

One week into his stay I wanted to drop him off (read: shove him out) at the local homeless shelter from an only slightly slowed van but Hubby said "We've never turned anyone away. We won't start now." I argued that sometimes exceptions must be made, especially when a delusional young man is taking advantage of your relatively warm couch while ramming his divinely inspired version of The Gospel According to TIM down everyone's throat and calling the family's pastor to tattle on what terrible Christians we were. Also, when my tenuous hold on sanity is slipping, the cause needs to GET THE &#%$ OUT!

Two weeks into his stay I overheard a conversation that told me everyone else in the house was on the ragged edge too.

Delusional Kid: (to another member of the household) Is that your bible? *points to little camo-covered New Testament on coffee table*
Other Member of Household: Yeah.
Delusional Kid: Do you read it?
Other Member of Household: Wh... why?
Delusional Kid: Can I have it?
Other Member of Household: No man, we use the pages for rolling blunts.

Around that same time, the Oldest Child Still Living at Home accidentally made deviled eggs with Delusional Kid's eggs (the only thing he'd purchased with his own money while happily cooking complete meals for himself from food intended to feed eight other people as well) then within minutes of his outraged discovery had replaced them with a 2 1/2 dozen carton. That sin was so egregious that everyone in the house was reminded of it on a daily basis until Hubby finally snapped and explained that while he would love and pray for Delusional Kid, he would do it at a distance and Delusional Kid needed to get out before my Rage Filled Mountain of Head of Household Man flayed him alive, seasoned him and turned him into Asshole Jerky.

So it was that three weeks into this particular chapter of OMGWTFBBQ (a period of time even our church family thought was three months) Tim/Delusional Kid made his exit from our backdoor while passive aggressively offering his remaining food (you mean the EGGS?) to the rest of the family...
"It's not like I have anywhere to keep them... sleeping on the ground... using my jacket as a pillow... in the bitter cold. So you may as well keep them and eat to your good health."

The scene had been so loud and entertaining... because everyone likes when Dad/Hubby/Head of Household is angry as long as they aren't the Objet De Ire (that's french for "Top of the Crap List")... that every member of the household was gathered in the kitchen to wave goodbye to our former guest. In the silence after his departure, Oldest Child Still Living at Home opened the fridge to see what vast stores of food were left for us and pulled out the egg carton. She looked at it and immediately went into such convulsions of laughter that I briefly thought she was having a seizure... until she showed me the carton. Scrawled across the top of the carton, in several places and font sizes (is big scribbles a font?) was the following warning... "TIM'S EGGS. DO NOT TOUCH. 1 DOZEN + 1 EGG. GOD IS WATCHING!!!"

Anyway, your post reminded me of that... but a Klonopin should stop the flashbacks.

Oh and thanks for giving me a blog post.


And Just For Fun- The actual comment I posted...

Okay, it started out as a comment but then I was unceremoniously informed my comment was too large and so I made it into a blog post, just for you... but I know you're too Busy and Successful and Good Self-Esteem-y to have the time to read it, I'm going to leave the link anyway because I'm self-flagellating that way..


My description of Delusional Kid is in no way intended to be offensive to or derogatory toward ShitHouse Rats. Many of my dearest and closest friends have been rats and while none have been of the ShitHouse variety, even Fancy Rats understand that a Rat cannot be held accountable for his birthplace.

Also, no offense is intended toward the mentally ill, the somewhat unstable or the slightly neurotic. You're the people I prefer to hang out with anyway.

Oh, and I don't mean to discount the possibility that Jesus can or has healed people of serious neurological disorders, it's just that I tend to question the validity of the claim when said healed person is still clearly delusional and then gets mad at your church leadership for not letting him sing, preach or take over the bible college classes after his first 2.3 minutes in the building. I mean, seriously... When someone has to be told that return visits will be met with a police presence you can usually rest assured it's not a case of Prophet Persecution.

I'm pretty sure there's at least one other potentially offended group I have yet to reassure but it's been, like, 45 hours since I last slept and about 32 of those hours have been spent reading a computer screen and I'm pretty sure there is some tiny print somewhere on the computer monitor box warning of Contacts Melting to Eyeballs from such extreme exposure so I'm going to step away from the computer and count the cracks in my slightly quivering eyelids.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Requisite Post

Yesterday was a blur of babies and missed opportunities to nap. Oh, and tie-dying all of Dora's white clothes. Should have taken pics before Krys left. They came out really nice and it was a lot of fun. Charlie blames me for 'hippy' kids and grandkids. He's just going to have to suck it up.

Keeping up with the change things but spending entirely too much time inside my own head. That never ends well... so next week, perhaps it would be a good idea to find something that draws me out of the cave before I throw myself to the monsters lurking in the darkness there.

Sometimes I really believe the fragmented person I was then had a hell of a lot more going for her than the supposedly whole person I am now. When it comes right down to it, I liked the Crew better than I like myself and for all my talk about accepting myself, I confused liking my cast of characters with liking Marisa.

I'm turning off comments for this post. It's all I can manage to be that raw and honest right now... Don't have the capacity for input just yet.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Freeform Friday

It's nice to sit down with a subject and a few thoughts on said subject before opening a new post page... but I've been thinking and thinking and then the room started to fill with smoke and I gave up. So whatever comes to mind it is...

John's sense of humor is awesome. The First Place winner of his middle school's spelling bee posted the following status on Facebook in response to queries about the winning word: "i forget teh winnin werd sumthin in teh 'Godforsaken' catagory".

One of the most wonderful things about my family is knowing I can count on a true belly laugh at least once a day.

I've been playing on youtube again...

Yes, I am that grandmother. And Becka's that Mom (offscreen left) and Rachel's that Aunt (offscreen right).

Babysitting (borrowing) Dora for the night so Krys and Steve can have a night out on his birthday.  They're going midnight bowling. Dora keeps their schedule so she's usually up until about 2am. So I'm tossing back coffee spiked with coffee shots. The corner gas station gives them away with the creamer and I grab one every time I get a refill.

Wow, that sounds pathetic. I'm such a java junkie... but still a non-smoker so I'll worry about the caffeine another time.

I can't say enough how much Charlie and I are enjoying the grand-parenting gig. It's not just the babies... there's something about Charlie holding an infant that makes me fall in love with him all over again, every time. Krys and Becka are beautiful Moms and it's a joy to see the parents with their little ones.

Cleo, the adorable little kitten I bottle fed and played mama cat to, is pregnant. We're expecting the kittens just about any time. We're fairly certain she managed this before we had the AC replaced and could close all the windows. I didn't think she'd gotten out after that... but won't really know until the kittens are born. It's frustrating... We've been scraping together car money for the last few months and missed the chance to get her spayed before procreation. As much fun as it is to have kittens in the house, we really don't need to be the crazy cat family... oh, wait... forgot, we already are the crazy cat family. *sighs*

Random statement that reminded me we'll never be a normal family... "You'd better not be making biscuits on that yoga ball, cat. You pop it while I'm sitting on it, we're gonna have words."

Soda can tab chain mail

When Krys and Steve came over, I was about a quarter of the way through the above project. Krys asked why I was making it (I can and have made linked steel chain-mail) and I shrugged and said "Because I can." I'm a craft collector, especially those that involve repurposing materials. I'll try any new craft at least once.

Not long after Krys and Steve left for their date, Daniel came in, hinted around about how many tabs it would take for a wearable shirt, speculated on how comfortable it would be then suggested we drink more soda... and I thought, that is why I'm making it. If it can impress Daniel and engage him in positive verbal interaction, I'll beg on the streets (or online) for tabs and build him an entire suit if he'd like. I might even be willing to buy more soda... but would rather not have to go that far. I like my family with teeth.

So, yeah... if you live nearby and you drink from aluminum cans, save the tabs for us. I need to find someone who drinks Red Bull. The tabs are different and it'd be fun to use those for a bracelet.

Lazy hair pic. This is immediately after putting it up, after applying smoothers and de-frizzers and before leaving the apparently protected air of the bathroom... because here it almost looks good. Daniel said something earlier today about me looking young. (I resisted the urge to ask if he was looking for something) John then came up to me, fluffed the frizz at my temples and suggested that "without those" I'd look even younger. "Yes, dear. Thank you. Now go away."

It may have been a fluke, as we haven't been able to repeat it and teething babies can be fussy that way... but yesterday, Becka and I were fairly certain Elena was freaked out when I had my hair down. Granted, it was the hideous Trelawney look... but I took my hair out of the ponytail, looked at Elena and she started to shriek. Put my hair back up and she instantly stopped and smiled at me. Curious, I took my hair down again and shook it out. Elena flipped out. Put it up, giant toothless grins. I did it one more time to be certain, while Becka giggled and I resisted the urge to grab the electric clippers and pull a britney spears... Not sure if I feel sorrier for Elena or myself.

Charlie and Daniel are going to fix a few things on the car tomorrow... Thank God for that car. It's getting too cold for sitting in the back of a truck to get around town. I was beginning to think the boys would have to keep sleeping bags in the truck to stay warm.

When I asked Daniel about his increasingly fluffy sideburns, he informed me he's NOT shaving until he first grows a beard. He's not waiting until he's "35 or something like that". It almost (but not quite) makes me miss the days when stinky feet were his biggest hygiene/grooming issue.

Hmmm.... not sure this is going to be a satisfying way to post... but I missed one day and did not want to miss a second. Technically, I have anyway as it's now half an hour into Saturday morning.

Thursday, fulfilled all the change guidelines... today I slept way late and mostly hung out with the babies. I'm not able to stay up late anymore just because I want to. As previously stated, it requires chemical assistance even with the extra sleep. However, bouncing on a yoga ball with fussy babies in my lap totally counts as exercise so it's all good.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Those Days

You know those days... when the crap seems to hit the fan with frightening frequency?

This wasn't one of those days... until I woke from an afternoon nap to find it was now too late to make church.

I should have gone anyway.

But then, some long needed issues have been addressed with the teens in the house and I believe sincere effort will be made to affect change... at least until they forget and the cycle starts again... *face palm*

Okay, I'm being a little dramatic. It's been a good day. As Krys put it, it was a "Momma, daughter day".

Krys needed some dental work done so we headed to downtown Charleston and the Dental School clinic.

Okay, I know dental work and good day don't seem as though they should fit together... but they did. We got there at an awkward time so they did the exam and the work almost 2 hours apart, giving us plenty of time to take a long walk and short lunch together. Were we both in better shape, we could have make it all the way to Noeli's resaurant. Maybe next time.

Years ago, when Krys still lived at home and The Crew were a daily part of our lives, Krys and I would make the occasional midnight run to Walmart for milk or some other necessity. We used these late night excursions to talk, bond and to just cut loose and be silly in a place where you can do that and not get a second look. When C was here, that was taken from Krys. For two years, I couldn't get alone time with any of the kids without major drama and competitive bull-crap. After Krys moved out, the opportunity to have that bonding time... well, let's just say there was a dry spell.

Krys and Becka both enjoy their Daddy time and they spend a good bit of time talking as father and daughter. Due in part to the current bout with depression, in part due to different lives and different interests and in part to I don't know what... Mom and daughter time has been pretty scarce.

For a little while I even entertained some silly thoughts that Krys didn't want to hang out with me. I even cried on Charlie's shoulder about it. Then, just before Dora was born, Krys and I had an afternoon pretty much to ourselves. It seemed like forever since we'd talked like we did that day and simply enjoyed our time together. Today was another one of those days.

I shared with the three girls last night my secret paranoid fear that growing up with a mentally ill mom would leave them wanting to get as far away from home as possible as soon as possible. I've always had a fear my kids would want to distance themselves. It was tough to admit out-loud. I've shared similar concerns before... but last night was more of a "I'm sorry for all of the things you guys had to deal with and I want you to have your own lives and move where ever you find happiness but I hope it isn't so far away that you never want to come home and I don't get to see you and your children as they grow." They were reassuring, of course... but days like today truly set me at ease.

I don't want the kids to feel dependent on us for help in their adult lives or as if we're trying to maintain control but I also want to be there when and where I can. Krys thanked me for accompanying her to the dentist and all I could think was how glad I am that she wanted me there and I could spend that time with her and Dora.

It was a good day.

Change One Thing
- Walked for at least an hour, carrying both my over sized purse and the diaper bag. I think under the circumstances and the way they were carried, that counts as extra resistance. So I can count that as a workout.
- All the walking was outside. BONUS twofer.
- Hung out downstairs with Rachel for an hour.
- Too pooped for onerous chores but did finish a hat.
- Wrote... again... *gasps*

This is enough to get a good start. I'll work to keep consistent through November and work to change other things as these become part of the routine... but I'm definitely hopeful that it's been a good start and a little more thought out than my usual efforts.

So, yeah... hoping this writing thing gets easier again. When I start composing posts in my head, I'll know it's there.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Ooo, Tuesday!

You tease me, Tuesday... with all your "I'm so much better than Monday" talk... but I know better. You drag me out of bed early only to toss me on my rear in the center of the middle school car-rider lane. Okay, so it was better than the middle of a road or highway but couldn't you at least have let me get to a place that didn't COMPLETELY block traffic and draw every eye in my direction? The roll out of bed, throw on yesterday's clothes, try to pull the mop into a reasonable ponytail look is NOT my best.

Should have taken a picture.

Charlie told me he'd never seen a ball joint snap the way this one did. The bolt was found a few feet from the truck, sheared in half. A teacher who stopped by to see if he could help made the same statement. Charlie just replied that only his wife could do that kind of damage to a vehicle. *sighs* I'll never live down the Cadillac Eldorado. So you shouldn't drive a car 250 miles without oil. I know that now. I still say it wouldn't have happened if he'd kept the car he had before the Caddy (HOTT '67 Chevy Nova he'd restored himself). The Caddy's death was God telling him the trade was a mistake.

While Charlie, Krys and Steve were struggling with the monster truck at the school, Daniel asked me to explain the ball joint. I said that in vehicles with independent suspension, the ball joint is just like the ball joint in your hip or shoulder. That basically what happened this morning was the truck fell and broke a hip in the school driveway. I know this information because I helped Charlie replace a ball joint... possibly even on the blasted Caddy.

The fact that I not only know what a ball joint is but can also explain it using an understandable analogy, yet can't help my kids with math homework disturbs me.

Then again, the boys are learning about cars too and each of my daughters knows more about cars than their respective significant others ever have. It's resulted in some hurt pride on the part of more than one male, but I think it's awesome. They know enough to diagnose and repair the basics. They aren't helpless little girls. That's a good thing.

I'm rambling... Waiting for the good news from Charlie that they found a vehicle.

*2 hours later*

He bought a Lexus. A silver, '98 Lexus. For the price we could afford.

'Scuse me while I go give thanks.

And Tuesday? You're forgiven. This time.

Change One Thing
- 15 minutes outside- This was unplanned but hey, it works. Doesn't matter if I'm outside due to a broken down truck or if I'm intentionally soaking up vitamin D... 15 minutes is 15 minutes.
- Well over 15 minutes sorting through Mama's stuff. There's more space in my room (still not all the way there) and some things can now be relocated to the garage.
- Yesterday it was shoulders and upper body, today abs and lower back... wow... tomorrow I might even take a walk!

Monday, November 8, 2010

Haircut Hell

I'm so jealous of my daughters. All three of them can just randomly state "I'm cutting my hair.", do it and there's never any drama. Even with Rachel's waves, which did create a little bit of discomfort when she chopped off her hair earlier this year, she can still cut and go. The last haircut was a bit of a 'screw you' to her ex who disliked the idea of short hair entirely. After 2 years of broken promises, she felt entitled to do something for herself without checking with him first. Considering all the ways a hurting woman can get revenge on an ex, I think Rachel chose the most productive and healthy route. I wish she'd been able to leave her hurt on the floor with the 4 pounds of hair she shed. But I digress...

This is supposed to be about me!

Kidding... just kidding.

Well, only slightly. Just haven't gotten there yet.

Rachel has been straightening her hair. She has an audition for an acting scholarship (among other things) on Sunday and her hair looks far more polished and dignified straight. So, with that in mind, she had Krys trim her hair to just slightly shorter than chin length. It looks awesome. She'll do a great job this weekend going from the slightly scorched (physically and emotionally) animalistic character she plays in Saturday's competition to Sunday's poised and polished young actress doing a monologue.

Here's where some of the jealousy kicks in. As Krys put it, "With your face, short hair makes you look butch, Mama." I really wish I could wear the style Rachel has right now... I mean without looking like the stereotypical white, southern grandmother... or like the male in my relationship. Now you know my stand on negative sexual stereotypes but come on... when someone says 'butch' does a feminine picture come to mind?


After Krys finished Rachel's hair, she started on her own. She's taking 6 inches of length off her hair and it's still shoulder length... it still goes from auburn at the tips to blonde in the center to dark blonde/light brown at the roots. Somehow she carries that look well. It's been less than 2 years since she cut her hair chin length and this is how much it's grown.

If I wore my hair this length, it would look like Dark Helmet... not the look I'm shooting for.

Becka's hair is currently past her backside and longer than a micro-mini skirt. She's cutting 22 inches of it this week for charity and her hair will STILL be past her shoulders.

She could cut her hair shorter than it's been since she was a thumb-sucking toddler and it'd probably be past her shoulders in 6 months. Don't hate her because she's beautiful. Hate her because you want her hair.

Did I mention that not only does their hair grow with above average speed, it's as thick or thicker than their Daddy's hair? The same Daddy who decided to grow his hair long when Krys was a toddler and had a ponytail halfway down his back by the time Becka was born? The boys are the same. They need to see the barber monthly or I lose track of their facial features.

Becka's hair is totally straight... so much so it won't even take a curl for more than a few minutes. Krys has waves but not curls. Rachel has a lot of curl but manages to tame it down to waves.

My hair... well, my hair was once upon a time as straight as Becka's. Then I hit puberty. With each successive child, it has grown curlier and curlier. Something I dreamed of as the only straight haired child in a curly haired family. And I admit, it has it's moments now, when it's finally below my shoulder blades. It's back to the length it was when cutting it short was a necessity because i couldn't lift my arms long enough to even gel my hair, much less braid it or blow it dry. It's taken many years to get back to this length. My hair grows at the rate of a sloth on barbiturates.

I like this length.

Except when I don't.

Now that summer is over and keeping my hair off my neck and out of my face is no longer an issue of survival, I still can't get out of my head the image of the halo of frizz surrounding the too sweaty face that has been my visage since mid-March.

Plus, I'm lazy. If I can wear my hair up and out of my face, I will. Except it rarely looks good that way. Whether I wear it up or down, it requires lots of gel, and smoothing... stuff and anti-frizz spray or pump oils and prayers and contortions and it feels like I'm using my head as a cauldron and getting the curls just right requires a particularly difficult potion and if I get the mixture wrong, I'll end up looking like I have a head full of slightly rusted steel wool... texture included. (or if that offends, my hair is a souffle and if not handled properly it falls flat. Sorry. That analogy just doesn't work) No matter how perfect the look when it's done, if it goes up in any sort of style, wings sprout from my temples and wave to draw attention to themselves.

Which brings me to mumbling something about "just shaving my head". Which, if said within Charlie's earshot, sets off a PTSD like reaction from him where he curls in a ball and puts his hands up to protect himself from the memory of the crazy woman raging through her tears about the idiot at the salon WHO CLEARLY FAILED HER COSMETOLOGY COURSES AND I'M NEVER LEAVING THE HOUSE AGAIN!

When he's able to relax himself enough to regain the powers of speech, Charlie usually begs me not to or attempts to forbid me getting a haircut without planning weeks in advance and providing him a prescription for a powerful anti-anxiety drug.

It's been 20 years since a haircut reduced me to tears but the reaction is the same.

Usually, I end up hiding in the bathroom while he's out or sleeping and trimming away the split ends that only enhance the Professor Trelawney look I so try to avoid. Then, when he doesn't notice, I casually mention I cut my hair and wait for his brief spell of hyperventilation to pass.

Did I ever mention he doesn't do well with change?

Wouldn't it be cool to wake up and not have to worry that only my autistic son sees the merits of my 'morning curls'... to be able to run a brush through my hair and go? Better yet, wouldn't it totally rock to not have to worry at all? I mean, like, without shaving my head at all? I'm pretty sure that would send Charlie into a genuine cardiac event... or psychotic episode. Neither of which I'm willing to risk.

So what are my options?

Learn to like what I have as it is... high maintenance or no... I prayed for curly hair like my sisters for years. It'd be silly to try giving back the gift.

I'm going to take pictures and post pictures of days and moments when my hair isn't up to scratch... and I'm going to deal with it. If I can learn to accept my face, I can accept the hair that goes with it.

Or the clippers will come out and it all gets shaved off.

Either way, It'll be a change.

Ack *cough* Spores

I've unleashed something in my bedroom. Don't know if it's the moth balls, the mold on the leather or 40 years of whatever can grow in the dark and damp. It's all over my bedroom floor, in piles related to subject... most of what is certainly trash has been taken care of (Don't tell Momma I called anything trash, please. When she's not angry with Charlie's older brother Jerry, she still reminds us of the great emotional and sentimental devastation we caused when the church pulled a hoarder's intervention on her in '99.)

The pictures are awesome. The jewelry ranges from total costume junk to some truly lovely fine jewelry. There's all Daddy's (That would be Charlie Sr.) medals from Korea, all the news clippings from the rape and murder of the 14 year old aunt Charlie never met... and the subsequent stories from the trial... the amount of ammunition found stored next to the the mint condition vintage car Avon decanters is mind boggling.

This is my third time trying to consolidate three trunks to one. It's getting easier to recognize the difference between the envelopes marked "very important papers" and papers that should be preserved. I'm pretty sure the records of bills paid in 1984 are no longer necessary. The actual insurance policy is important but everything the company has ever sent... not so much.

Honestly, this is the stuff I love doing... but today it's interfering with the ability to breathe. Time for some benadryl and a break.

It frustrates me to no end the computer has decided to quit recognizing the scanner. These stiff and crackling snapshots from 50 and 60 years ago need to be preserved... and I'd love to show off what an adorable toddler Charlie was. One way or another, we'll get them all saved digitally.

What to do with 75 pounds and 20 years worth of Happy Meal toys is something I don't know how to tackle. I'm fairly certain the possible value of even the rarest item will be outweighed by the time it will take to unearth is, research it, clean it, and try to sell it.

Okay, with or without a player, the Beatles 8 track stays.

Krys is on her way over with Dora. I need to get this stuff packed back in the trunk and hope the air clears a bit before they get here. It's Grandma time.

Oh, and for the record, I've written, worked on an overwhelming chore and hung out downstairs... that and 15 minutes of PT exercises for my shoulders. Yeah.