Early summer pool coma.

With every new season, I breathe a sigh of relief and contentment.  I don’t know if it’s the passing of time or the littles’ new wardrobes (how great would it be to grow so fast as to necessitate a new wardrobe every season?) or even the change of scenery and activity.  Having four seasons pleases me.  And you could never get me to move to a place that is missing one or two.

Ella is out of school.  The day are warm and the nights are (mostly) cool.  The air conditioning has been on (off and on and off and on) for a couple of weeks.  Maybe I’m getting old but I cannot tolerate the sticky nights.  Also?  This house does not breathe.  I cannot get a cross breeze to save my life.  That’s why we weren’t even all the way unpacked and I was having my first ceiling fan installed.

If this holiday weekend was any indication, we are in for a good summer:  Lawn mowing, pool time, gym time, time with friends and family (mostly family), house cleaning and laundry, simple meals. 

The outdoor pool at the gym opened this weekend.  We went twice on Saturday and then again today.  Funny thing about the pool at my gym:  being in a swimsuit is the great leveler. 

I know that I have a ways to go in the whole “looks hot without clothes” department but a good 80 percent of those poolside folks need some combination of fat camp, UV rays and/or a decent colorist. 

I fit right in.  Fat, pasty and in need of a root touch-up.  And we all know how I feel about fitting in.

Tonight was also my very last fat camp class.  I think I’m doing the right thing.  I mean, I started this not to have to do it forever.  I wanted to get to the point where I was able to do it on my own.  And I think I’m there.  There’s a lot I will miss but most of what I will miss doesn’t have anything to do with the exercise.  It’s all the things that come with spending three nights a week with a dozen other people. 

I’ll probably be back in the saddle in July.  Maybe. 

For now, for tonight, I am sun soaked and tired. 

I will pad around the house and check the locks.  There is cold air coming from the floor vents and it leaves the tile in the entryway a tad bit chilly.  My babies are sleeping soundly in a pool induced coma.  (One of the best parts of summer, I think.)  The bathroom smells like chlorine from the suits that have been rinsed and are tossed over the shower curtain rod.  Sunscreen is packed for daycare tomorrow.  It will be another hot and sticky day and it might storm. 

I do love the beginning of summer.

A complete sap.

I am a crier.

I had forgotten.

I’ve been fairly heavily medicated for going on three years.  Wow.  It’s been three years.  On May 3, 2007 Stephen went to the pulmnologist for the first time for that dry cough that he couldn’t kick.  And the fatigue.  And insomnia.

Oh man.  If only we had known.  Not that it would have changed anything.  Not one little bit.

Amazingly enough, a little xanax was enough to get me through the summer.  I started on Lexapro on September 18.  Three weeks before he died.

My dosage was steady for the first two years and then upped last spring.  That was an ugly time.  I saw it while I was in it and I really see it now.  And once I could get things under medication control, we evened out a little bit.

But I was numb.  Things that I should have been spooked about (like Amelia falling down the basement stairs at our old place) or excited about (like moving) didn’t phase me.  I could tell (but couldn’t do anything about) that things were in slow motion.  Fuzzy.  And it was necessary.  I get that.

I am proud to announce that, after 5 months of gradual weaning, I am off all medication.  No Ambien, no Xanax and no Lexapro.  I’ve been off for about 3 weeks so I’m willing to concede that this, indeed, is an actual accomplishment and not a fluke.

I don’t feel out of control or overly angry.  I can function in society.  I allow myself some social time.

All this extra fresh air, exercise and clean eating isn’t hurting either.

Don’t get me wrong…I still have some low-level frustration and sadness going on.  But I think that’s okay.  I feel like it’s something I can handle.

I did forget about one thing:  I’m a complete sap.

So, I’m watching Castle or Biggest Loser or something and a commercial for Kodak comes on.  And who hasn’t cried at a Kodak commercial at some point in their lives?  No?  Just me then?  Anyway, there’s a brand new daddy with his brand new baby in his arms.  Mommy is napping.  Daddy snaps pics of new baby and shows how easy it is to post to Facebook and email said pictures.  Cute.  In the very last second of the commercial, the baby stretches and makes a new baby noise.  The kind that my babies would all do when I would stay awake and stare at them.  I choked up, clutched my pearls and gasped audibly.  At a commercial.  I know. 

6 months ago?  Wouldn’t have happened.

There was a baptism at church today.  And, once again, I remembered my own babies and their baptisms and how I cried through all of them.  I don’t know why.  Relief?  Joy?  And understanding of what it means to be baptized and held up to Jesus?  All of the above?  But I can’t hardly sit through a baptism without getting choked up and a little misty.

I may or may not be a wreck just thinking about it right now.

It’s not just babies and commercials…it’s my girls saying something poignant or a heated discussion or a major decision that needs to be made. 

It’s a memory…the good and the bad.  It’s the future and making decisions and hating being a grown up but, man, you couldn’t pay me to go to Prom again.  Or write a term paper.

I wish I could convey what it is like to feel something again.  It’s like waking up, yes…but so much more…vivid. 

Vivid.  And bristling.  And joyous.  Blinding. 

So here’s to life without medication.  I’m going to give it a shot.

I Am Alive.

I think it was last May when I started whining about wanting balance.  I was fresh from a gig and spring had sprung but school was still in.  I was in a downward spiral of anger and extra energy and depression.  It was bad.  Really, really bad.  I can look at it now and know how bad it really was.  Because it was all-encompassing.  No sewing, no exercising, no baking, no gigs, no travel…just trying to hold on. 

And then my meds got doubled. 

And I got a house and started planning a move.

And then I moved away from all the folks who held me up all those times.

And my big girl got on a bus and left me for 8 hours a day.  And my little girl marched into preschool like she owned the place.

And I started working.  A little at a time.  Ten hours here and there.  A couple of contracts lined up. 

And then it turned into this: 9 weeks of constant work and travel and nights without my littles.

I’ve had some time to reflect on what’s been happening (other than the blizzard raging outside my door…God bless new doors!).  I’ve been harassed by a nameless family member about how much time I’ve been away.  It bugs me a little.  Okay, it bugs me a lot.  That’s not what this is about.

What it is about is that I Am Alive.  I am more than just present.  I do more than breathe in and out. 

I can manage a crew of a dozen stagehands and not have to think twice.  A dancer or a singer can ask me a question and I know the answer.  I’m learning the back roads and vendors of the metro area.  I know exactly how long it takes to get to the airport from downtown and how long it takes to walk to Starbucks and back again.  I have had conversations about books and poker and grandchildren and how things are made and how things work. 

All of which involved hours away from my littles.  Days.  Weeks even. 

I missed them, there is no doubt.  But I Am Alive.

Despite what unnamed family member thinks, I am still their mother.  And when I am not with them, they are safe and loved and fed and in bed on time.  They go to school.  My big girl even get comped into a certain ballet and allowed to fall in love with a certain Sugar Plum Fairy and her Party Boy son who gave her a jewel found on the dance floor after the show (which now has a place of honor in her box of special things). 

I am not doing this without help.  There’s no way.  I pay out the nose for really good daycare.  I also have an awesome family that is contributing in a way that I could never have imagined. 

Balance.  That’s what I needed.  Work some and play some and sleep some and be a mom too.  It’s possible.  And my littles are no worse.  In fact, they might be better.  They need to hear something other than the sound of MY voice which, by now, probably sounds like Charlie Brown’s teacher.  Except without the “Yes, Ma’am” at the end. 

I Am Alive.  Yes, I am.

The one where I take my grandma to New Moon.

One more thing to check off my list:  family holiday at my house.

Remember that part where my mom volunteered my house for Thanksgiving?  And I chose, at that moment, not to say a word.  That is the part where my grandma gets invited.  If it hadn’t been for her, I would have chucked the whole idea.  I made a ham (as requested by my oldest little), cheesy potatoes (funeral potatoes), pan braised brussels sprouts with bacon and shallots, handmade whole wheat bread and Dutch apple pie.  I was a busy girl before noon!  Thank you America’s Test Kitchen cookbook.  You made brussels sprouts palatable and pie heavenly.

My grandma is so cute.  I took her to see New Moon this afternoon.  She’s read all the books.  She’s pushing 85.  It was, admittedly, my second time seeing the movie.  I’ll save my review for another post because I realize it’s fiction and I also realize that it was written with the fifteen year old, “True love waits” crowd in mind.  But let’s just say that I’d go to jail for a little bit of that yumminess that is Taylor Lautner.  Oh Em Gee.  Take me down to paradise city.

Er….yeah.  Cougar, much?

Starting tomorrow, I head into my Christmas show season.  Tiny Tim versus the tiny Nutcracker dancers.  I should be full of the Christmas spirit by the end of the week.  Or homicidal.  It’s all my fault.  I all but volunteered for both.  I’m such a sucker for shows that people actually want to see.  Wait.  What? 

It’s not that I don’t like doing the opera.  It pays pretty well and I get to play with big stuff but there’s something to be said for the homegrown, local favorites that people crawl all over each other to get a better seat.  And then there’s the drama of stage parents and the one stage mom of an understudy who might actually push the star down the stairs to get her kid on stage.  Have to keep an eye on that one.  Or, keep my camera handy.  I’m not sure which. 

So that’s it.  Another holiday. 

It gets easier.  Time helps.

I have to keep reminding myself of that.  This year is easier than last year was.  The littles grow a little each day.  I am proud of who they are becoming and how far we have come.

Time helps. 

Help me remember.

Wrist-down labor only.

I suck as a blogger, sorry.

I had a headache and when I would start to write I would, uh,…

I don’t really have a good excuse for not writing.  Even my itunes DJ thinks I abandoned it.  I added some new music tonight.  itunes really knows how to sell the music.  I was in the mood for some Jason Mraz-ish (but not Mraz himself because I have d-bag issues with him).  I found some great stuff from 03-04-05.  You know, the good years.  For me anyway.

Fall is here.  My mood is better than, well, it was.  So that’s something.  As a note to self: this isn’t a good time back off on the meds.  Just a thought.  I am sleeping again.  A little too well, a little too often.  And, well, that’s why I haven’t been writing.

The littles make it to bed and I am not far behind.  Getting up with Ella every morning is starting to take its toll.  Er, it’s putting me on a regular, human-like schedule of sleeping at night and being awake in the day.  I still love a good nap when the little one is down but I don’t “need” it.  Nope.  I can stop any time I want.

Wait.  What?

Anyway, we are all settling into routines.  My house still smells like paint and (ugly) carpet glue but it’s getting better now that the windows are open all day.  So that might have something to do with the sleeping issue.  Love me some crisp fall air.  I made chicken noodle soup and biscuits today and changed dresser drawers from summer to fall, officially.  We’re probably done with sun dresses and tank tops. 

We spent the weekend with FIL at his acreage.  His “neighbors” had goats, about a dozen of them.  Among the herd (is it a herd of goats??) was a mama with two babies.  3 days old.  By far the cutest things on the planet.  I have been thinking that our next house will have land enough for goats.  And a few chickens.  Maybe a border collie or a hound of some sort.  One of the baby goats wasn’t feeding well and got weak so the girls got to watch the farmer (and his wife) feed the baby with a syringe.  You would never have known that there wasn’t a nipple on that thing the way he sucked a slurped at it.  A-freaking-dorable.

I’ve been working some (boring, I know) but I really like it.  I don’t get it most days…I’m not all that into opera to tell you the truth; I’m a musical theatre kind of girl…but they aren’t paying me to think.  I am wrist-down labor only.  Mostly computer and calendar and contracts and copier.  And I get to play travel agent every once in a while which is fun. 

Oh, and remember that part about getting back into WW?   Yeah.  About that. 

Maybe I’ll save that for tomorrow night.

Julia Gulia.

I’m only going to say this once but if I had known that 100% more medicine equaled 900% better mood, I would have done this months ago. 

I am calm.  I didn’t yell today.  I had energy to keep things picked up.  It helped that we had all day with no plans at all and it rained.  Poured.  Even the dog never wanted to go out.  Amelia slept until almost 10 and, thusly, didn’t nap.  See where this is going?  The littles were both asleep by 8pm and I’ve been wasting time on Facebook and watching Wedding Singer.  (“Get out of my Van Halen t-shirt before you jinx it and they break up!”)  I am about to fix a cocktail and either watch live births on Discovery Health (it’s a re-run…but still) or go downstairs and sew a little bit.

Or maybe I’ll read.  Or mop the floor.  Or call my mom.

The point is that I actually feel like doing any of those things.  And it’s been a while.

Nobody move, nobody breathe.

The littles are playing nicely and the dog is not being a total asshole.  I will not dare to move or breathe even though my iced tea could use a refill and, because of the empty tea, I could use a trip to the restroom.  The windows are open and a post-rainstorm crisp breeze is blowing out the winter funk.  (With the addition of said dog, there was indeed a funk.)  Nobody move; nobody gets hurt.

This time, two days ago, I was ready to run.  I was ready to cut my losses, take the littles to the nearest relative and check into a nut house somewhere.  Although, I hear that you cannot commit yourself…someone must also declare you a basket case.  Shouldn’t be too hard to find…right?  It’s a moot point because this is the cycle of things and I get that.

Things suck really, really badly for a day or so and then they swing up again.  Kids sleep when they are supposed to, messes get picked up, the weather lightens, flowers bloom, someone says or does a very kind thing.  And then it all isn’t so bad.  A person could almost feel…blessed.  Okay, maybe not blessed but at least not cursed.  It doesn’t all turn to shit the second you move or think.  It makes the act of moving and thinking not so cumbersome.

I know that I need help.  Of the “mental professional” type.  I also know that I need help of the “respite” type.  But here’s where my personality flaws come into play.  I have a very hard time asking for help.  I don’t know where to start.  I don’t know who would be best suited for the job.  I don’t want to impose more than I already have.  I have this thought that I have done it for so long (with some help, yes) that why should I need anyone now?  It’s been two years since Stephen was diagnosed (or will be in a week or so). 

Two years.  In a constant or near constant state of stress.  Even breaks from the stress (grandparent respite, jobs, trips…) come with their own burdens.  The burden of post-grandparent induced spoiled syndrome (PISS), three feet of minivan debris that comes after a road trip and the inevitable vodka shits that come with happy (5) hour after work.  Nothing comes free.  And that’s okay.  These are the things I can do on my own.  That I have been doing.

It’s no lie that I’m tired.  I’m getting a handle on the physical tired.  I go to bed late but I’ve learned to compensate and I’ve learned my limits.  I am mentally tired.  Tired of doing everything myself.  Every decision, every follow through, every trip and meal and outing.  If it got purchase, cleaned, put away or disposed of, it was by me.  Can you imagine?  Can anyone? 

I know I am not unique.  I am not the first single mom.  I am not the only one who did not sign up for this.

But some days it sure feels like it.

For today, things are quiet and calm and fragrant.  The flowers on the neighborhood crab apple trees are in full bloom and the breeze is just right.  Ella is making Lego monster trucks and Amelia is putting stickers on her babies and calling them band-aids. 

Nobody move.  Nobody breathe.

But if I don’t get up and pee, this is going to be embarrassing.

Dream: Packing up

In my dream last night, E*** kissed me.

I used to have these dreams, sex dreams, where Stephen and I would spend the whole time looking for a place to have sex.  It was all tension.  We would end up trying to do it in secret while people talked to us, came into the room, ate food.  Tension, tension, tension.

In my dream, we were at a camp or retreat of some sort.  On the third floor of a bookstore that I have visited in my dreams on multiple occasions.  My ex from college was there with all his saxophone buddies.  We were on a break from the class and we went outside and there were horses.  I was telling him how I’ve always wanted to learn to ride a horse and he leaned in a kissed me, very lightly.  Through the dream, he would come up behind me when I least expected it, wrap his big arms around me (it felt like sinking into a warm bath) and kiss me on the neck.  Or steal a quick kiss.  Not a “kiss your mother” kiss either.  Even though it was quick, it meant something.

The second half of the dream was walking through a giant pile of suitcases at the end of the camp.  And escalators that went too fast.  And looking for him so I could say goodbye.  And telling my mother about him and getting out the map to show her where he was from and where he lived now.  But mostly there were more hugs and more kisses.  Innocent almost.  But promising. 

And the suitcases, steamers, duffle bags.  People in coats and wearing backpacks.  People leaving and hugging.  All people that I know or have known.  And there was a small group of people not leaving.  People eating and laughing and drinking.  Sitting in theatre seats.


I don’t dream very often.  Or, I don’t remember them enough to relay details.  So this is something.  I will say that