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Nov. 24th, 2015

I turned in the most mediocre and half assed paper of my academic career, tonight. It was absolute horseshit and will probably get about a 50%, based on the rubric. But it's for a class I'm doing well in otherwise, and that averages in better than a zero would.

Today was supposed to be Paper Writing Day, but instead, it was a day of talking on the phone about all kind of Serious Business (like, the counseling center I've been waiting on FINALLY wanted to do my intake interview for Isaac to participate in their program...), taking Annie to her orthodontist appointment, doing an online test I'd forgotten about for another class, and about a million other things.

During the windows I had to work on the paper, I mostly squinted angrily at the convoluted instructions and got interrupted by Elise. I suppose I should reference that this was basically a math paper - running increasingly complex statistical analyses in SPSS and then analyzing the analyses. It isn't really that hard to understand, if you give yourself adequate time, which I clearly did not.

I am keenly aware of just how many large scale projects and daunting final exams I have looming in the next couple of weeks. Also quite cognizant of how most of my next week is ostensibly devoted to grocery shopping, cooking, transporting tons of shit to my sister's and helping her host upwards of 25 people for Thanksgiving, and then getting on the road with my crew for a friend's destination wedding. SO clearly I'm needing to do a lot of micro-scheduling such that I can cram hours in here, there, and everywhere.

This is a cyclical thing that is subject to change, but I am definitely thinking tonight of how great just sticking with a terminal master's in a counseling related field sounds, compared to going for some neuro-related PhD that will keep me in dense deadlines and math stress for the next decade.

I've been so inspired and motivated to write creatively lately, and aside from the odd poetry break here or there I just don't have the resources for it. I've also been keenly aware of how unwilling I am to let go of certain things at this phase of my life, from bedtime reading with my children to weekend dates with Grant. I just won't budge on certain indulgences, regardless of what's pulling me in various directions, which is not really the philosophy of the tortured type A grad student.

Part of this is the insular (and sometimes isolating) effect of having been very triggered recently. But, you know, I have PTSD. I don't want to give an inch, ever, on this front - I don't want to be limited by mental illness. Or chronic illness, if needing to get weekly shots and quarterly blood draws even qualifies. But the truth is that I'm going to have seasons where I pull back and draw in, and have to be at least a little bit gentle with myself. I want to enjoy my life and realism should be some part of that.

Tangential: My own therapist frustrates me... he does a lot of things I find helpful, like EMDR, and I've had some great epiphanies with him. My ability to enjoy my mom's company in small doses with no repercussions, and see the good in our relationship without expecting anything more, is a great thing. He's also been a valuable grad school and career planning resource. We talk a lot.

The problem is that he's really dead set on this idea that he can "clear out" trauma so that it's gone and doesn't bother you anymore. Ever. He has an unprofessionally obvious disappointment if I am not truly over anything we've ever worked on. He actually admits to impatience with subjects that resurface, and gets visibly irritated that we have to revisit topics.

To be clear, I believe that CBT and EMDR are both capable of lessening the ongoing effects of trauma. Significantly. I believe you can improve your quality of life radically through counseling. But true PTSD alters your freakin' brain anatomy. You respond to future stressors differently than you did before, even if you stop having frequent spontaneous nightmares/constantly intrusive thoughts/whatever worst effects you originally had. Counseling can give you great tools to put into practice when you get triggered, and it can help you recognize when you are triggered so you can gain some objectivity, but I don't honestly believe it can keep you from ever being triggered again. Less often? Absolutely. I used to gradually deteriorate if I saw a hospital scene on TV. Things really have to pile up in my real life to get me, these days, which I'm grateful for.

This guy is kind of a pompous windbag and he's really stuck on the idea that he has personally cured however many hundreds of peoples' PTSD, often in (what he perceives to be) as little as one session. We get into passionate arguments about this. I really believe he's helped a lot of people - and I don't doubt some people can FEEL BETTER, especially temporarily, after one session of EMDR (though some people will need way more than that to get a boost, or even have a way harder time than they were, in the beginning). But he's not wiping people's slates clean as though their experiences never happened. If someone goes from barely-functioning to super productive but then becomes triggered and has a setback, it's not a failure of or reflection on the previous treatment.

This is a kind of pure, altruistic (albeit also narcissistic) misconception he has going on. It centers around people needing him only briefly, so it's not about keeping people coming back. He is really not interested in customers as such - he wants success stories. And he's been featured in the books of other people who claim to be racking them up, and it's only validated his ideas.

I feel like I learn a lot about what not to do, from him. But like I said, I also value him, it isn't black and white... and, I try not to interpret our sessions through the lens of "I'll be on the other side of that desk one day," in the moment, because it isn't helpful.

Clearly I need to sleep, instead of rambling about this.

Last thought: I'm contemplating tonight what a Licensed Clinical Social Worker could potentially do, with/for The Order of the Good Death.
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Nov. 20th, 2015

This has been a really, really hard month or so.

1.) I am triggered all to hell and back.

So many doctor's appointments, so many tests, so many tense, anticipatory waiting periods. I can't go to bed, can't sleep when I get there, feel tense and on edge most of the time for what appears to be absolutely no reason. It's isolating and I keep pushing people away even though I feel so lonely. Ignoring texts, postponing vists. Normal efforts feel like huge efforts, though school, kids' schedules, kids' needs, and so forth keep marching on as I metaphorically drown in life. I have horrible intrusive thoughts when dealing with scissors and knives.

I'm still in counseling, it's better than it was, and it's been a year since I really felt triggered, so... I'll be ok. But this is coloring everything else.

2.) Grant's been depressed for a long time. He's gained weight, he's eating like shit, hates his commute, etc (those are his reasons/contributors, not mine). This, in addition to periodically worrying me and generally making things feel a bit glum, results in things like less fun, less interaction, less sex, etc, within our marriage. I've been in a "make my own happiness, be responsible for my own day" paradigm for years now, but it gets a lot harder to maintain when I feel like a shaky crazy person and just really want affection and distraction from my own BS. Also, his subtle and not so subtle rejections really underlie how few real life friends I have locally. I think I'd turn to him a lot less if he wasn't the Fount of All Adult Interaction, these days. But so long as I'm in this transitional period of being completely bogged down with my (mostly online) schoolwork and homeschooling a couple of kids, I don't exactly have a ton of resources for a social life. I fantasize constantly about being in a communal living situation with other adults, such that they would just be readily available for a sit-down breakfast, or a late night talk, or whatever.

Spoiler: "whatever"=sex.

3.) My sister and I keep having these knock-down drag out mega dramatic messaging sessions that just sap me of all strength and happiness. She's working out a lot of old pent up issues, we're both trying to bridge a communication gap we've always had, and it's the most tedious, long winded, emotionally exhausting thing. I don't even know how to explain it. We're so similar that our differences always seem glaring and cause us to clash. New issues tend to feel like historic patterns, which magnifies them...

There was the evening I spent crying on a sidewalk, and in a public bathroom, and on a dock, weeping and sending fucking novellas back and forth by the dozen. The immediate following weekend filled with more of the same. I turned off facebook messenger notifications because of how stressful the sound of receiving a new message became, but just checked it obsessively anyway.

We ended up having a "date" that went really well and seemed to settle a lot in a positive way, but I feel all the old stuff edging back in again and then today feels right back where we started a month ago. I think we mean too much to each other to drive each other this fucking crazy. I also think we both have too much on our plates to devote nearly as much to the other, as we'd each like... GAH.

I don't have any other relationship that's like this (and neither does she). Neither of us are dramatic in our friendships or even put up with this shit with other relatives. It's this migraine of a paradox that "us" can be important enough to us both that we'll wade through the muck and "do the work," buuuut...that still doesn't fix the muck. Both of us feel like we bend over backwards for the other one in a way we never would for anybody else.

With my sister and with Grant, I don't know to what degree my PTSD kicking into high gear is affecting things. I know it makes me more sensitive, at times, and more loathe to deal with conflict at all. What's less clear is how it alters my perception of the relationship issues themselves. Basically, I have trouble trusting my own judgement on subjective interpersonal things at all, when I'm in this state.

Those are the main three things. ISIS is also getting me down, and taking up all my NPR airtime, and Boko Haram and antibiotic resistance just make me want to never look at the news again. I've spent an awful lot of heavy time talking to my children lately, about terrible current event stories they're confused about.

They're great, though. Shining stars every one :) Isaac has had some resurgence of anxiety for the first time since he went on Zoloft and that's been a struggle, for him and for me, but he seems to be back on the upswing and all told it was nothing on how he used to just always be.

I'm reading him Stephen King's Eye of the Dragon (which is not at all like other Stephen King books), and it's SO DIFFERENT than it was to read the same book to A&A, years ago. Isaac is so complicated and brilliant and...worried? He also interrupts constantly, but that is another story.

Elise is SO WONDERFUL. She's had a massive cognitive leap in the past couple of months, I'm so proud of her. All of a sudden she can listen to more complex chapter books (and be really into it), play Minecraft on her own, speak with far less hesitating and searching for words - her drawings have went from stick figures and suns (exclusively, for years) to varied and detailed. And, she also maintains her bubbly, high energy, chipper self a solid 90% of her waking moments. She makes me laugh and we snuggle and take walks and she's constantly got something to show me.

We finally found a couple of good homeschool resources, too, so she and Jake are able to get out around more people and do more things regularly and I'm relieved about that, even though I sometimes feel as though I'm walking uphill with cinderblocks as I initiate these activities and get us out the door for them.

They are the bees knees, those two, and my school days with just the two of them are sweet even when I'm dragging a bit, and preoccupied. They're both really into TERRIBLE MUSIC, I don't know which is worse - Jake wants to listen to things like "It's Raining Tacos" and "Best KittyCat Song" and Minecraft music from YouTube all day, and she wants a steady stream of Katy Perry and Taylor Swift. That I still enjoy our time so much speaks volumes ;)

They're still very innocent, our interactions are so simple and focused on them in an easy way, and I'm keenly aware of how fleeting that is. I adore taking Ananda for an afternoon at a tea shop or staying up watching Montage of Heck with her, and I love to slip off with Aaron for Chipotle or lie around talking about his school issues/girlfriend, but...I don't know. Jake and Elise are still with me in the moment, for now, in a really different way. And not just because they don't have smart phones yet.

There's some adolescent complexity that tints everything with self-consciousness, once it comes on, and something about the lack of it in Jake and Elise seems really vibrant, and temporary.

I'm still doing well in my classes, and am so ready for them to be over. I have less energy for obsessing over grad school options and am taking it one day at a time until a few upcoming events that may clarify things for me.

Very pleased with how spring seems to be shaping up for me, re: part time internships and other professional opportunities, as well as my determination to use it to write. Hopefully this triggery bs will be long past by then, but if not writing is about the best purge there is. Just sitting down to write this nonsense has lifted me up significantly since I sat down to start it.
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Saturday Grant and I drove down to Key West. We stopped for mushroom brie soup, ham and cheese croissant and iced coffee on the way, and we saw many mostly naked people while there - mostly in costumes and body paint, and drank free rum after getting to a rooftop bar via my Aunt's free wristbands. I had a bunch of party goers yell after she had the announcer say, "Happy Birthday to Tina Marie!" (which she will apparently always call me) and I walked around on an old bridge in the moonlight alone with Grant, looking at stars and our changing shadows.

Sunday I slept in, I had sex, I took my big kids out for a LUSH shopping/macaron getting/tea shop date, I was sung to by my sweet family.

I'm 34!

Today O_O

Today I took Ananda to the orthondontist (one of her impacted teeth is finally showing!!!) and myself to both an ultrasound, where I learned my IUD may have embedded itself in my c/s scar and need to be surgically removed (but I have to wait to know), and to my primary care doc with Grant where we were finally able to get training and prescriptions for him to give me the B-12 shots I have to have. Jake and Elise had to come to all of these appointments and brought books and were generally pretty tolerant. Somewhere in between there, I made a big pot of pumpkin oatmeal for Jake, Elise, G and I; helped Jake finalize the Halloween costume he wants; and I took an hour and a half long beast of a french test.

Then I fielded a call from Aaron's spanish teacher as I dropped off prescriptions, picked up my school kids, had a big sit down about a class Annie's slacking in, talked to my gynecologist about my pending test results, left FIU's psych advising a message about a registration problem, and started on my research methods work. 45 minute test and hour+ on an assignment later, I ran to eat the delicious dinner Grant cooked and talk with Isaac for a bit.

Good. Grief.

Since Saturday, I've been having an awful lot of long, hard, heavy, emotional, irritating, comforting, potentially helpful fb messages back and forth with my sister. About misunderstandings we've had, habits and patterns we've outgrown, ways to meet each other where we're at now, and more. Just novellas upon novellas worth of word counts, often with tears. BAH-LAAAAH....

There does seem to be some progress, though, and at least we both care enough to make the effort.

I just took a break from writing this to read Elise 3 chapters of Junie B. Jones (and the Stupid Smelly School Bus), cuddle her a bit, and explain what we have coming up this week. She's so great. Reading to my kids can be EXACTLY the recharge *I* need, sometimes.

Still pretty damn tired :p
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Oct. 19th, 2015

The Miami Book Fair just published their annual list of booked (haha...ha...) authors. The usuals like Dave Barry, Joyce Carol Oates, and Amy Tan will be there, and then there are a bunch of people I don't even personally usually think of as authors - Patti Smith, Jessi Eisenberg, JACKSON GALAXY, and John Leguizamo. Joseph Fink, cowriter of Welcome to Nightvale, will be there, which is sort of interesting. Also Edwidge Danticat, whose book I had to read for my Cultures of the Caribbean class.

Since last year involved both Anne Rice and Caitlin Doughty, I am not super excited. If I can get a good lineup of things I'm somewhat interested in happening on the same day, we'll hit it...

The major themes of my day have been enjoying the windy, cooler (as in low 80s) weather; trying to make sense of our calendar in light of a rescheduled wedding, a rescheduled field trip, a rescheduled appointment, upcoming exams, various facebook event invites, and my birthday this weekend; and, cleaning the kitchen FOREVER (in stages).

I also rolled up to the intersection right by the kids' school this afternoon only to find at least a dozen regular and undercover cop cars just EVERYWHERE, including blocking the road, multiple ambulances, police on foot...they were rerouting parents MILES via backroads and my stomach was in my throat. Thankfully Ananda texted me back that they were all fine basically immediately as I sat in stopped traffic wondering what was going on. It was "just" a traffic fatality. GAH!
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Oct. 16th, 2015

Today, I:

-made a stock pot of bone broth and two large mason jars of sauerkraut.
-found out I got an A on Stats exam 2 of 5 yesterday. I got a B on the first one. I'm still adjusting to the idea that I'm actually capable of understanding this material. Millionth time's the charm!
-got 9/10 on a BioPsych quiz. I keep missing one on every one of those damned things.
-got bad news on the phone about a good friend, and have been standing by since.
-sat and caught up with Annie for awhile.
-took Isaac's clarinet for repairs, and got him new reeds.
-took Aaron for a birthday present for a friend, and a Chipotle burrito like he's been craving.

I feel like there were a lot of other things I needed to accomplish, but oh well. Tomorrow I'm spending most of the day on a field trip with Jake and Elise. Feeling slightly starved for affection/sex, but also good about the direction my life is going in. Cough is almost gone.

I've lost 5.8 pounds since I wrote that "fat" entry. I'm trying to take a this-is-medicine, I-am-sick approach. So far, it really seems like a switch flipped in my head. Counseling last Saturday was aaaaaaall about how sick I got, and all those things I learned when I went reading.

Das about it for now.
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Oct. 9th, 2015

The burgeoning independence of my younger kids is so adorable.

Elise (8) has started making herself salads. Ever since she realized she could do this, she does it at least once per day. She includes things I might never think of, like raw broccoli and sliced peppers. She's so proud of herself every time.

Today I taught her how to make herself a cup of tea. Soon after she was sitting there at the dining table with a salad and tea, giddy with her feet swinging.

Jake's 10th birthday is just a few days away. He decided he wants to invite some people to go see Hotel Transylvania 2 together, on the day. Some of them are former classmates, so today around the time that school dismisses he and Isaac walked there with the invitations to hand out. It's half a mile down on our same street, but you can tell they felt like it was a grand adventure. Which was heightened when a torrential downpour started on their way back home and they arrived laughing hysterically and soaking wet.

Isaac's cell phone is in a bag of rice.

Isaac was going to heat up leftover soup, today, and turned on the wrong burner - one that was under the soup tupperware. So we had one of our annual "house filled with toxic plastic smoke" evacuations. At least it's slightly less hot these days.

I have some field trips lined up for Jake and Elise and am hoping they pick up some homeschooled friends they can see during school days semi-regularly. One is to a library for a geode and crystal thing, and the other is to a little farm and pumpkin patch that has a whole slew of activities planned for everyone coming. I also joined every local-ish homeschool related fb group that exists.

I am kind of embarrassed to say one issue I'm having is that I just don't want to have to hang out with a lot of local homeschooling moms. I want to find activities where either I can find people I actually click with, which would be great, or I can drop the kids off and pick them up, which is also fine. I really desperately don't want to get back in the swing of regularly spending hours with people I just don't relate to and/or who I'm not comfortable with, because I "have to," while the kids run around nearby. The field trips we have coming up are ones that involve groups I'm not familiar with, so maybe I'll actually make some friends. I miss a couple of PATH moms up the road who I use to love catching up with, but their kids have aged out of school altogether and people are moving away.

This is hard to explain - I don't dislike moms as a group by any means. But, I'm way past the point of trying to make friends with other moms just because they're also moms. It's like if I like someone and get along well with them, and they happen to have kids, great!

I often find my relationships with childless people to be a lot less complicated. They don't have any kids to bring or get a sitter for or keep them from being available! They also haven't had to navigate, and potentially become completely lost in, the identity crises that come from having so much of your time, energy, and resources being devoted to your kids.

I suppose I've always been out of step. When I was a teen mom, I didn't know any other mothers, at all. I didn't even have the internet. When I started homeschooling and attending LLL, later on, I was still 15+ years younger than everyone else in the groups, and in a lower socio-economic bracket. Now, it seems like everyone my age is having babies. But we haven't had diapers in the house in over 5 years, and I have definitely Moved On from the pregnancy/birth/breastfeeding mindset and perspective. I am the Girl Anachronism!

Other local homeschooling moms, here in our town - at least the ones I've been exposed to - are mostly cleaning houses or working evenings and weekends to make homeschooling possible, and they rarely if ever drive up to Miami, and being in college seems pretty weird to them. I got a lot of "must be nice" comments when I mentioned a roadtrip and we were asked what things were over and over when I brought food to a place - about, like, a container of Sabra hummus (they had never heard of hummus! Or Fresh Market...or a french press for coffee...or chai...)

I don't know if I sound horrible, but I don't want to spend all my time explaining stuff, or apologizing for things. I'm tired of friending people on facebook and seeing that they're really into protestant christian minion memes, and direct sales of Thirty One/Herbalife/Jamberry.

Yesterday was Grant's birthday and I went all out on his dinner and cake. Everything came out great. The day before, his best work friend gave him a Super Mario chess set and took him out to dinner, and then he arrived home to a kid-made banner and a pile of presents. He's also gotten cards in the mail from his mom, his dad, and his sister. The day itself was lowkey but nice; he took the day off and we did things like go out for Indian food for lunch, and get the gas powered weed eater he wanted since the electric is a huge pain and apparently he's in full swing, ultimate suburban dad mode now :)

I really want him to feel loved and worthy. I think about this a lot. He has some self worth issues and they rear up in random ways, one of which is this tendency to be like, "my birthday doesn't matter." Except that his birthday is the anniversary of the day he came into the world, and he's basically the best thing that ever happened to me - he's pretty amazing all around - soooo..... Tres important.

My Research Methods class continues to be top notch. Since having to do the training for the Human Behavioral Research lab certification, and doing studies on campus, I've had to register for a Qualtrics account and design a survey, write debriefing material for a study, and use SPSS to run statistical analysis to include in a paper. Every task we're set is wildly intimidating at first, which makes me feel like a serious champion whenever I conquer another one.

I have a B in Stats so far - next test next week.

I took a moment to relish, earlier, that I was looking at an entire paragraph written in french and could piece together what it meant. That wouldn't generalize to any french paragraph, but it was still encouraging. When composing my discussion board posts, I now know when Google Translate is telling me the wrong thing ;)

Biopsych is hard but great. I've gotten 100 on the last few quizzes and those quizzes are BEASTS - I was missing one question every time, the first few weeks. When you miss one on a 4-5 question quiz, it really counts. Piling up some hundreds is good.

I had a harrowing experience at the gynecologist. It was just shit, basically my cervix is really far back and tilted backwards and so in an effort to verify my IUD placement during a pap smear, everything from yanking to forceps was tried before we settled on "I'll just go get an ultrasound."

But, my period is somehow miraculously falling cleanly between that pap smear and the ultrasound, so yay?

And, I'm finally starting to really feel better from the illness mentioned in the last entry.
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A couple of days ago, laid out on the table for a pap smear, my gynecologist said, "Have you seen a dietitician? Skinny people live better, longer lives." This seems underhanded, no pun intended, when said by someone who is pushing your soft inner thigh fat around.

I don't really deny she's right, although the "better" part is subjective, and some might argue that life is better with cheese fries and alcoholic milkshakes. Healthwise, and social-advantage wise, the evidence is clear that she's speaking truth.

I am starting to doubt it's possible for me to be thin, though. Certainly not "skinny," as she referenced. I've never been skinny in my life - I was born 10 pounds, 4 ounces, and am chubby in my kindergarten graduation cap and gown pics. I've been hot and healthy and curvy, as a teenager, but I was never a thin girl - let alone skinny.

Maybe you watch SciShow and you've seen how Hank Green says in his obesity video that being fat is objectively bad, but also that it's caused by everything from genetics to industrial chemicals, and linked as much or more to gut bacteria as diet and exercise. That is a heavily researched and cited video that is hard to refute. Many other scientific voices are saying the same things as Hank.

Or maybe you saw that Salon article quoting a bunch of new research, earlier this year:
If you’re one of the 45 million Americans who plan to go on a diet this year, I’ve got one word of advice for you: Don’t.

You’ll likely lose weight in the short term, but your chance of keeping if off for five years or more is about the same as your chance of surviving metastatic lung cancer: 5 percent. And when you do gain back the weight, everyone will blame you. Including you.

This isn’t breaking news; doctors know the holy trinity of obesity treatments—diet, exercise, and medication—don’t work. They know yo-yo dieting is linked to heart disease, insulin resistance, higher blood pressure, inflammation, and, ironically, long-term weight gain. Still, they push the same ineffective treatments, insisting they’ll make you not just thinner but healthier.

In reality, 97 percent of dieters regain everything they lost and then some within three years. Obesity research fails to reflect this truth because it rarely follows people for more than 18 months. This makes most weight-loss studies disingenuous at best and downright deceptive at worst.

There's a great docuseries called The Weight of a Nation that also explores how cultural forces, environmental factors, and more, are combining to make us fatter and make it really, really hard to lose weight and keep it off. I believe it was the 3rd episode that explored metabolic changes that happen when you lose a great deal of weight, that make it much harder to maintain a weight afterward than it is for someone of a similar weight who had never been morbidly obese. As in, the person who lost the weight would need to consume about 300 less calories per day, vs the person who'd always been thin, when controlling for every other variable.

All of that (frustratingly) backs up Grant's and my experience these past couple of years. We both lost around 30 pounds, and then promptly gained it all back plus some, to be at mutually all-time-highest weights. We're both looking at round 2 - which is more like round 22, let's be real - and feeling more than a little disheartened.

Part of me really, REALLY responds to fat- and body positivity campaigns. I have a bathingsuit I think is super flattering, and I swim in public. I live in public. I have a husband who thinks I'm ravishing. I've found a few places I can reliably shop for clothes I genuinely like, on and off. I'm not afraid to do just about anything, and get pretty shocked when I find out other overweight people avoid being SEEN in public, eating in public, etc. I've got a good and full life, over here.

And my blood sugars, blood pressure, and cholesterol are all still awesome - probably due at least in part to us cooking from scratch often and eating tons of fresh fruits and vegetables. Aside from the occasional coffee, tea, or wine, I only drink water. Don't be fooled, now, I eat A LOT and I know it, and I eat a lot of fat - even when I'm eating very healthy, I just want fat all the time (olives, avocado, whole eggs, cheeses, etc). But I also think I eat a lot of healthy foods, and that helps me out in the body chemistry department vs someone fat who chows down on more cake, coke, and McDonald's? Who knows, maybe I've just been lucky.

Except that I get sick - a lot.
And I stay sick for a long time, when I do.

I never really connected that to being fat. Just now I was reading online, though, and I saw that a really disproportionate number of those hospitalized for flu are obese. Obesity was proven to be an independent risk factor for getting the flu, in 2009.

Basically, being fat screws up your immune system. You get sick more - in general, not just with the flu - and you get sicker when you get sick. Here's the National Institute of Health, explaining it in more technical terms via PubMed. The
CDC actually lists those with body mass index greater than 40
as one of the subsets of people who need a flu shot, along with infants and the elderly and immunocompromised!

But, guess what? Flu shots don't work as well for the obese.

Kinda like how the morning-after pill doesn't work as well for overweight women. And who knows how many other medications.

I know someone (online) who is super active, fat positive, and strong. She bikes and walks often, is in circus school for crying out loud - she's also got a badass career and is a great mother. She had a terrifying pulmonary embolism a couple of years ago, related to the Nuva ring - which is much more likely, if you're fat. Like how ovarian cancer is more likely if you're fat. And about a million other things. I don't have the will to keep linking everything, but I assure you, this shit is easy to find if you go looking independently.

Basically, obese is not something you want to be. These health risks are freaking me out tonight on a level that nothing else I know about my weight ever has. This is going to be on my mind in a big way now, every time I come down with anything.

What good is my full life, if it's cut short? By infirmity or death, or both (one after the other)?

So... do I just believe I can be in that tiny sliver of people who manages what is basically statistically impossible? Even if the reality is that losing and regaining over and over is much worse for you than just staying the same amount of fat, over time? My therapist, annoying ass that he is, really likes to say it's just a matter of "making a decision, and sticking to it." Which is sort of hilarious, since he's a type 2 diabetic with a pot belly that's been on some diet or other as long as I've been going to see him (about 2 years now) with little if any result. Obviously everyone does better at doling out accurate advice than following it?

I'd give a long sigh right now, but I'd go into a coughing fit.
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Sep. 29th, 2015

Ananda and Aaron arrived home last Friday night from their high school's annual fine arts camp - 4 days, 3 nights. They told us stories for hours.

I felt so proud of Aaron (who had never been there before, and was texting me the first night that he couldn't sleep and didn't like it). He ended up having a great time and being really glad he went. He spent some time playing a tall console piano that he's still missing, in a room with 3 other students, and said all of them cried. Which is basically exactly how his piano playing effects me. Ananda then had to hear about it all week from them :p She only gets excited if he's playing something recognizable that she's into, like the theme from Howl's Moving Castle or Carol of the Bells, around Christmas.

The photography teacher apparently saw him for the first time and immediately asked if she could take pictures of him, and now wants to try to get him modeling contracts.

Aaron2 Aaron1

^Those are pics I took of him after he got his ears pierced.^

The biggest thing, though, is that Annie's gay friend E asked Aaron out, the night of the bonfire (Aaron is straight). He turned E down by saying, "I wish I could be into you because you're a great guy. I'm sorry it's not that easy - I'm really proud of you for going out on a limb, that had to be really hard." E went back to Annie and said, "your brother just didn't date me in the most epic way imagineable."

He is still him, and so he had a story about a panic stricken old guy screaming "WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?! GET OUT OF THAT TREE, NOW! FEET FIRST!" I nearly killed him myself after he described going back alone to examine a yellow jacket hive after the swarm fell upon a girl who had to be taken to the hospital. I mean... he has seen My Girl. Get it together, Aaron.

He also came home WITHOUT his @&#)($ dance bag (that had jazz pants and shoes, ballet shoes, dance belt, dance tights, tank tops and more in it...)

Anyway. Ananda mostly laughed hysterically describing cabin antics, prank wars, and inside jokes. She also came home sore from moving constantly the entire evening of their dance, and knowing some new dances. She liked it better than last year, which was her first year, and that is saying something.

All in all it seems to have been money well spent.

Saturday was a complete fiasco that involved things like Aaron coming in my room with skates and pads in hand at 3:56 saying, "Mom, I'm supposed to be at Super Wheels at 4:00!" and Annie realizing, while we were out, that her iPhone had vanished. Teenagers, man.

Sunday was sleeping in and french toast brunch.


Then Grant and I went, alone, and got iced coffee from the farmer's market, and walked around Pinecrest Gardens for a good long time.

Aaaaand Sunday night, the seven of us met Shaun and my friend Kristin's mom, Melanie, on the beach - where HUNDREDS of others were as well, including fire twirlers and drummers - and watched the moonrise/eclipse. It was great. We had an awesome view, bags of food, spent hours in the water. I drank too much wine - or perhaps just the right amount.

The weird thing is that when I got home, my bathingsuit bottoms were FULL OF SAND - like, between the layers of fabric there is a TON of sand. You can gather it up into a big ball. I mean wth. I guess I'm going to have to cut the lining open to get it out? Sheesh.

Yesterday/Monday was good. Highlight of homeschooling was probably when Elise wanted all the details of how doctors get to people's brains, to operate, and Jake had to leave the room for that explanation... she is very consistently fascinated by death, medical procedures, anatomy, etc, and almost never upset by any of it. He is extremely sensitive to those kinds of things, and really irritated by her fascination. The last time I had a blood draw, he stayed in the waiting room and she was so inquisitive that the phlebotomist enlisted her help with things like swabbing the area and feeling the vein as it puffed up o_O

Annie had an orthodontist appointment in the afternoon - her impacted canines are STILL not out, though they're much lower down now than before. I also officially made our last payment on her braces, yesterday. Gooooood lord. Between pulling the baby canines (dentist), the braces themselves (ortho) and her oral surgery (specialist), we and our insurance have paid something like $13,000 toward her mouth in the past couple of years! So glad Aaron and Isaac don't need orthodontics.

Annie's mouth, day 1.

Annie's mouth, yesterday.

Her bottom teeth are so much straighter now! It's weird how clearly you can see the tiny chains from the impacted teeth (which get shortened gradually at every visit now).

I had to invest a chunk of the evening to my own school work - I had a French test, a Research Methods quiz, and a Research Methods lab assignment due last night. As soon as I finished Annie and I hit it out the door to go to a free outdoor Jose Gonzalez show featuring our favorite food trucks.

Cristy, me, Jose Gonzalez, and Annie, after the show was long over.

Cristy's Shaun's girlfriend and has only known us for a year or two. Elise hogs her bigtime when she's around, but she adores Isaac. Ananda and I realized as we talked after the show that she had no idea Isaac was ever in any way difficult or complicated. He's come so far and is doing so well that just seeing him now, she was thrown to learn he was a high needs baby, tyrannical toddler/preschooler, etc. I love it. Just telling her a couple of stories, I could see Shaun get the war-torn look of someone who has had to be in a restaurant when someone starts screaming, and has had the movie paused for half an hour every 10 minutes further in so we could try to wrangle Isaac...for years. It really impacted our ability to do anything, we always had to plan for Isaac - from bringing an inflatable dingy for Isaac to be pulled in because he wouldn't wade through the sandbars with us because he hated water, to... everything. It's impossible to overstate. It's so great that he's where he's at. I love that he can be happier now, and that we don't have to struggle all the freakin' time. The transformation over the past couple of years has been so radical.

This has already been written here and there over several hours, and is probably disjointed enough. I promised some people who are done with their workbooks that we'd visit Pet Supermarket and look at fish.
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Live Oaks, Killing me Softly...

I am staying at my sister's house since yesterday afternoon, with her older kids and a few of mine, while she and her husband stay at the hospital with their youngest. Isabella (3) had been acting lethargic and uncomfortable, with a distended belly, for too many days, so they took her in. She has some kind of non-mechanical bowel obstruction - apparently that's something that can happen after a stomach bug, when swelling or twisting of the intestines caused by inflammation from the illness won't let anything through.

The good news is that's usually treatable with a resting period of not eating for a couple of days. So she probably doesn't need surgery or any other radical intervention - just IV fluids and observation, along with some meds to make it hurt less and lots of probiotics.

Since I am basically The Princess (and the Pea), I don't sleep well at other people's houses, on couches. There is a very precise confluence of events, involving nudity and too many (specific) pillows and a lot of room and a blasting fan, that all have to transpire for me to only suffer my normal level of insomnia. But after I cleaned the kitchen from dinner and made Elizabeth giggle until she wasn't sad and otherwise acted responsible, I did manage to get really excited and start longing for a new kind of roadtrip.

I found this picture on tumblr, of a 350 year old oak tree (verified via other sites):

To say I love it is not saying enough. These trees make me ache in the chest. I can't drink them in enough.

I go out of my way to drive through tunnels of "old" live oaks in the Gables pretty regularly, and those are babies by comparison. This is one of those, that I've been using as my facebook cover photo for awhile:

I mean I accidentally found myself among live oaks at sunset on my last roadtrip and almost lost my damned mind.

Last night I learned there are various individually named and dated live oaks that are hundreds of years old. Angel Oak is in Charleston, and more than 1500 years old. <--DO YOU HEAR WHAT I'M SAYING?

The Angel Oak tree:

(from tumblr user rorybore)

(from tumblr user nottheleaningtowerofpisa)

(from tumblr user gregfoster)

(from tumblr user cgawel)

I would like to encourage you to go find more angles to view this tree from ;) There are endless streams of pictures of it in the "Angel Oak" tag on tumblr and on Instagram.

You can also visit "Oak Alley Plantation," where movies like Interview With the Vampire (and many others) were filmed...

Though they are sad places, with slave quarters intact, and a lot of sordid history. I suppose it's all kind of dark.

I found this image last night - the "Tree of Redemption."

It's a lot to take in. The South as a whole is so awful, and lovely, and weird, and haunting, and ultimately my opinion is something like "It's not the trees' fault! They were here, first!"

Hopefully they'll be here after us. And I'll get to hang out with some more of them soonish.

(Angel Oak again, this time by tumblr-er leahdeleah)
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My whole life is education. A lot of it is very good, much of it is deeply exhausting, some of it is very challenging - which can be both great and terrible.

Driving 3 kids to and from school for 45 minutes, twice a day. 7.5 hour per week driving to and from the school! Going to all their various open houses, too, and contacting their teachers, buying their supply lists, asking how it is, buying them more supplies, sitting up talking about it, handing them more money, filling out stacks of forms.

Homeschooling 2 kids. Reading to them, taking them places, guiding them through things, assigning them things, sitting down to meals with them, sitting down at the computer to search for things they're wondering about, checking over their pages of writing or of problems, getting everything out for something.

My school. Hours at statistics homework pausing and unpausing lecture videos with a calculator and a notebook. Reading and reading and reading assigned reading about neuroanatomy, "the triune brain," the modules for my training certification to do research, slides forEVER on research projects and lab criteria. Adobe Connect meetings in a headset with one group, formatting APA citations for discussion board posts with another. 45 minutes at a time with my french teacher talking on a headset, recording myself speaking french in little bursts. High pressure 5 minute timed quizzes hunched over a laptop. Laptop perched on the windowsill playing video lectures as I wash dishes.

Highlighters and the wall calendar and my phone's calendar and sitting down at night to record what Jake and Elise have done and make lists for the next day. Squinting as I triple check 10 different links to make sure I'm not missing any deadlines.

I love it and I'm glad it's temporary. Every bit of it, though I'm relishing the Jake and Elise part, and I'm less lonely/restless with my mind more occupied.

Still low key lonely/restless.

pictures!Collapse )
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