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I've had the richest, fullest, most beautiful and FUCKING EXHAUSTING couple of weeks.

Eating thai food with Shaun, Cristy, Grant, and Ananda; walking around Miami Beach people watching and talking to some gorgeous girl who stumbled into me; drinking wine on the sand.

Dishes dishes dishes forever, an hour at a shot dents it.

Having cathartic submissive sex with Grant, coming like coming apart, spent and weeping afterward.

Having cathartic PRODUCTIVE talks with Grant, seeing how far I've come, being happy for him to have other people to be happy about, hearing him happy that I'm happy about Mills.

Getting a hotel room to take Mills to, for his first night back in town, and going there by myself early in the evening before he arrived with a suitcase full of candles, brie, sex toys, and shower products. Running around all night with him, in Wynwood and the closed pool. Having great emotional sweet reconnecting sex with him.

HOURS and hours at the DMV with my oldest, while she took her test, laughing about nonsense.

Driving driving driving to client houses, faltering struggling spanish, sitting with people crying about death, documenting eternally with clunky software, calling and texting other hospice people about a music therapist, about antibiotics, about someone not eating anymore.

Rushing to the library at school to print, sitting forever in the last of my long long classes. Fear and anticipation that I'm ALMOST DONE. Dread and urgency and apathy, about whether to walk at commencement. Concern and unconcern, about whether my diploma will have honors on it. Worry and faith, about applying for jobs and options that I have before me. Determination about licensure.

Presenting another big deal evidence based presentation to school administrators and professors, with folders of printed materials to hand out, and being told it was amazing - someone actually cried. Hospice research could be funded and performed through my university because of my interests? How is this real life?

Driving practice around the neighborhood, with Annie jerking to stops, jumping forward, turning too hard, me so faux-casual as we nearly die again and again.

Giving Aaron hundreds of dollars and dropping him off, so he can go to Universal with his girlfriend's family. Stalking social media with the rest of us to catch glimpses of them.

Going to the doctor WITH Ananda for the first time, to mutually get physicals and blood work and even STI testing. Taking her out to french lunch. Hearing her uncensored thoughts about feelings I didn't know she knew I had.

Rolling with Mills sharp and sweet and deep and forever, amazing, holy shit. Cuddling for face brushing hours of semi-conscious heaven.

Whole afternoon of Isaac's thoughts and feelings, taking him to get things he loves, bringing him along for errands I have to do.

Mills and me taking Ananda and Elise to Harry Potter World for two days of terrible thigh chafing, goosebumps from castle light show and Ollivander's wand ceremony, tears in Dumbledore's office and on the train platform, disgust with authentic British food AND butter beer, parking and unparking forever and ever, security checkpoints, never ending lines, Annie's anxiety spikes, eternal excited talk amongst us analyzing every detail, wonder as we discovered Knockturn Alley, relief when we stumbled upon a puppet show to sit down at, thrills when the dragon breathed fire on the dark street, frustration from lack of sleep, tension because it all costs a million fucking dollars.

Worry about Jake being sick, the still-new constant contact of messaging with Jake, long meetings confessional AND accusatory with Grant about how Jake can't fall through our cracks. Popsicles and soup, hugs and chore battles.

Signing Elise up for camp, forgetting and remembering about her Saturday morning yoga classes, committing my future self to more and more and more driving and early mornings with a gulp. Snuggling and smushy smushy all the time.

Telling Jess all my fears in messenger.

Trying to process Kristin's texts, filled with pictures of the Honduran jungle and videos of lava in Hawaii.

Neighborhood kids and my kids' boy/girlfriends sleeping on couches; up at the dining table at 2am on their own laptops and saying "hi" casually when I come in from a roadtrip; having their phones plugged in even though they're nowhere to be found.

Hard talks with Grant, crying, confusion, hope, passing out because it's just too late, rallying our troops to clean the house before his new friend who just flew in comes over for the first time. Vicarious nervousness on his behalf. Still working together to plan dinners and split a car no matter what else is going on. Holding each other like home.

Rejection letters about writing that stung.
Lab results that knocked me for a loop.
Lowkey guilt for all the messages I'm not replying to.
Lowkey ache where I wish I could talk to my sister about all this. Obligatory urgency to celebrate her own achievements and fill in for our parents.
Lowkey relief where my mother is really blocked out of my life and it's wonderful.
Constant background scramble about how/when/where/why to make this novel happen. Dwindling to a fine point of doing it, soon. I can feel the laser focus creeping.
Vague unease about whether I should keep talking to a cool person on OkCupid or if that's just foolishness of the first order, like, DO I HAVE TIME FOR THAT SHIT?
MEGA ENTHUSIASM for deep connection with female friends. All lady retreat on the horizon, red tent parties, I could not be more grateful than I am to have friends who want to buy a house with a room and pool FOR ME, or who pay to fly me up so we can just talk for days.

Somewhere in here, I reached a point where I don't need to wear a post-op binder daily anymore. And I'm less scared every day, that I'm gonna burst open and rush back. It's been almost 6 months. The physical transformation is still something I'm keenly aware of most of the time, because I'm comfortable or because of how I look in a mirror, because of positions I get in by myself and with others, because of not being harrassed for riding amusement park rides or buying alcohol.

!

/scene
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2017 in Review

Diving right in...

In the Spring semester, I was interning at the Guardianship Program of Dade County. Trying my awkward hand at professional dress and office work, teasing at my PTSD with trips to hospitals' psych departments, hoping not to be attacked at ILFs. Lots of annoying documentation. Those three days per week, I ate packaged salads for lunch many days, and carried the fanciest bag I've ever owned. I was also taking 12 more credits of grad school, in the form of evening classes two nights per week. I did well and got good grades. I also made a couple of real friends. I spent the bulk of multiple downtime days texting with my friend and dragon, Mills.

During those months, man. Ananda got a concussion in January. Super scary, lots of followup, ultimately she was withdrawn from high school.
Before that, we attended the memorial fire for our friend Diana, who had committed suicide in late December of 2016. It was a beautiful thing, led by a shaman and with tons of rad people sharing, but also of course sad. Diana was a trans sex worker and the partner of my friend LJ, who went on to spend ALL of 2017 grieving very openly.
We all went to their first/my second Florida Herbal Conference, in February. It was wonderful but there was also mega stress between Grant and me.
We had a plumbing emergency in the front yard when a pipe burst.
My online friend Michael Kindt, aka http://early-onset-of-night.tumblr.com/ , died of liver cirrhosis. Ironically, he coined the joke that the liver is very important, and that's why it's called that. He was an out and unashamed alcoholic and would not have been surprised by this turn of events, but I was disappointed.
My grandfather (Pa) died, in April, in a way that involved multiple trips to Lakeland for me... alone in a hotel room, then with my family in an AirBnB. Lots of time in the ICU, lots of bonding with my sister and brother, lots of rage at my mother, some serious heartache in my marriage. I got some good time in with Pa at the end. I wrote and gave his eulogy.
I spent awhile texting with Mills about all that, too, and even asked him to come and be with me. Alas, he did not have a way. Nobody really did (I asked a couple of others, as well). Possibly for the best, in the end.
Isaac turned 13 in February, and Elise turned 10 in May.
I discovered the Kimchi Cuddles poly comic and read ALL of it (recommended).
Discovered a plant and seed swap group, went to a couple meetings, took tulsi seedlings to share.
I discovered and subscribed to Duotrope, and started submitting poetry through them, and got some accepted for publication by various markets. Still waiting on some answers and planning to submit more. I organized a whole thematic chapbook, too, that I'd like to enter at a few more places.
Grant was still really, really depressed during these months, and very addicted to/dependent on the GPS based game Ingress - to a degree that was really bananas. He was off and on suicidal, but also on antidepressants and in counseling, and generally doing what he could to try to pull himself up and out of it.
Our still-financed, relatively new (to us) Ford Fiesta's transmission died, beginning a long series of expensive repairs that have ultimately yielded a very expensive lawn ornament.
Ananda went to prom with her boyfriend, and took everyone's breath away. A month later she attended his high school graduation. A year and a half into this relationship (about 2 weeks ago), they broke up.

In the summer semester, I took a break from interning but did have 3 classes/9 more credits. Again doing well, and with more cementing of the friendships I'd made. I went to a "choices in death and dying" seminar for extra credit and gave a presentation on it, and thought about career directions.
Grant took a work trip to Missouri that was good, and then an Ingress trip to the sequoias in California that was GREAT. He came home from that one certain that he had to move to CA, even saying he was going to go with or without me, which was a bit of a fucking surprise. He took it back soon after. He seemed happier overall.
I went in to get bloodwork done, and found out serendipitously I could totally have surgery to fix my (huge) hernia and (major) diastasis anytime - that my weight is not a barrier at all, like I'd been told and believed for years. I had surgical consults, felt mega-triggered and had nightmares semi-regularly for the first time in years, but also got excited (and, later, disappointed that I'd have to wait many months due to scheduling and funding issues). This is still happening.
I took my annual solo summer roadtrip, picking Mills up along the way. This was with Grant's full approval and lots of talks about it. The summer before, I'd visited Mills 3 different days of the trip. This time, we had a lot of adventures in Gainesville, and Tallahassee, and Orlando, and fell in love, and met a bunch of each others' friends, and I said this about it on tumblr when Grant was devastated by the whole turn of events:
"A promise to 'rock your world' is a flirty and seductive euphemism, but to literally have one’s world rocked is actually a much more complicated disaster."
Aaron went to the mountains of North Carolina for a two week long summer hike deal. Elise attended several weeks of Girl Scout day camp.
Ananda turned 17, and Aaron turned 16.
Grant and I "processed" ENDLESSLY, about his jealousy and my refusal to give up this new relationship. Mills and I video chatted, and messaged, and I sent him a card and then he came to our house, and met our kids, and stayed with us for weeks that were wild. He was washing dishes and sleeping in the living room, I was taking him to all my favorite restaurants, Elise was chattering endlessly to him about her ponies. He was easily passing every unspoken test I could have had for him, from how to interact with my gorgeous 17 year old daughter to how to respect my spacey and silly 10 year old. This is to say nothing of bowing to every whim and mood of my erratic husband as everyone adjusted (Mills has been poly for a long ass time, has lead groups about it, etc). We swam in a lot of pools, and spent sweet nights together when Grant was on work trips, and my sister was horrified at my scandalous behavior and refused to meet him and generally put a big wall up between the two of us.
Grant had a small fling, and then got a real long distance girlfriend of his own. I was pretty freaked in both instances by how headlong and rapidly he was flinging himself at relative strangers, but also trying to be supportive. It became clear that we should have talked about expectations I'd assumed were mutual, and would maybe just have to do away with expectations altogether.
He claimed to have "woken up" from his years-long depression, citing a combination of dietary changes (no more grains or sugar) and realizations stemming from counseling and his travels. I never want to discount those things, but I also think it was clear that jealousy and shock played some roles. He lost a ton of weight, improving his blood pressure and getting rid of his sleep apnea. He felt excited about a lot of things in life for the first time in forever. He also felt lots of fear and anxiety about poly.

The fall semester, I started interning at a hospice, and taking more classes. The hospice training and orientation period were intense, in a beautiful way. The people there were authentic and wonderful. I was VERY distracted, though, by Drama at home.
Isaac took a 10 day trip to Colorado, to stay with his friend Jeylin.
Mills kept coming back, for weeks at a time, and then being gone for weeks. Grant and him became real friends, albeit with the tension of Grant having periodic outbursts of emotion about him being here. Isaac built a relationship with Mills, and there were all kinds of things between the two of us.... a trip to Jacksonville to see my friend Kristin, a trip to Key West for my birthday, free surprise tickets to a masquerade ball/fundraising gala, whole seasons of shows like Kyle XY and High Maintenance. We drove as a family up to Gainesville to surprise him at his birthday party, and we spent our hurricane evacuation week up there, too. Mills ended up at our house for Thanksgiving, and Christmas. We've logged a lot of highway hours, and filled every one of them with easy endless talking except for when he was reading me his favorite Harry Potter fanfiction. He came along with all of us to full moon drum circles, to Shaun's wedding, to Santa's Enchanted Forest. We made him a room as a Christmas present. I sewed him a stocking to match the rest of ours. He quietly put a dream catcher near my bed.
I have several new facebook friends that were his first, and a couple of real friend-friends.
I got in major trouble at school, for being late to a particular class too many times. It's a BS class, and I made the mistake of treating it that way, and the teacher said I should be kicked out (a shockingly hardass stance), which would mean no more internship, which would mean expulsion from the whole degree program. Meeting with admins, emails galore, massive frustration - I ended up losing a couple of classes and my internship progress, that semester, but keeping the rest, and will be restarting that same internship this coming term. It's pushed back my graduation a few months (from May to August), but shouldn't be the end of the world.
So much fighting with Laura, about Mills. A horrible phone call from my mother, about him. But my Dad was supportive, and my Aunt Michelle took us out to lunch, and hugged him and said, "Thanks for making her happy."
Grant and I flew with all the kids to Boston, and stayed with my beloved Nancy, and went and saw the Dresden Dolls.
He fell in love, or something like it (reports vary) with a monogamous classmate friend of mine. She seemed smitten with him, too. Nonstop BS rollercoaster ride, of them cutting off all contact/just being friends/hanging out one time to see if they had chemistry/saying zero contact/drunk chatting "one more time," etc etc AD INFINITUM good lord.

I got multiple speeding tickets this year, after several years without one. I was hit by another car, too, which is my first moving collision in all my years of driving.

I bleached the bottom 5 inches of my hair, and then dyed it a dark bluish green.

We were without AC for about 2 sticky months, before we caved and cashed out Grant's 401k to replace our unit.

Had New Years Eve in Gainesville, staying with Mills and (his partner) Norma, and hanging out with (his) my friends there.

Some books I read at least part of:
-More Than Two
-Uncommon Arrangements
-Stranger in a Strange Land

Some music I ate up:
-Beautiful Chorus
-Mother Mother
-Kishi Bashi
-The Veronicas
-new Lorde
-Nahko Bear

I really can't recommend the YouTube series The Gay and Wondrous Life of Caleb Gallo highly enough.

Aaaand that's a wrap.
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Mar. 3rd, 2017

(All 7 of us) spent 3 days camping at/attending the Florida Herbal Conference - attending classes and keynotes and bonfires, eating in the cafeteria, wandering around the marketplace they set up, connecting with old and new friends, taking SO MANY NOTES - then 1 day in adjoining hotel rooms in St Pete, swimming in the pool, walking around downtown, and going to the Frida Kahlo exhibit at the Dali museum.

We got home at 2:30AM, and I had to be up by 7:30 to get to my internship via rush hour traffic, be there all day, and then go to classes all evening. Which is not so bad; I have friends, I like the clients we work with, I like our class activities and feel good at this school work. Caffeine exists, and I was on a high from our trip. But it is a lot. I barely had time to be grateful Grant has been making fabulous dinners and organize the kids and myself into unpacking clean-ups, in the late evenings. Those days that I'm out, I don't STOP. I cram homework in around the edges, either in 45 minute windows at the library or when I'm leaving in half an hour and have nothing else to do; I catch up with my sister or old friends on the phone in the car while I drive all over God's green earth, visiting hospitals, ALFs, and people's homes; I swing by salad places just to grab something to go. This is, incidentally, how the day before we went out of town went: internship all day and class all evening, with filling out summer camp forms for all the kids, and holding speaker phone meetings with my family every few hours about what needed to be packed, watered, boarded, cleaned out, and more, before we left.

Today, I have nothing to do and nowhere to be. For the first day in 9 days, I have a day to just be here.

I mean, really, I have tons to do... but I can decide how to manage that and and what to prioritize, or ignore it all since I don't have anywhere to be for the next two days, either.




Apparently it starts with beginning a livejournal entry, taking the school kids to school, cutting herbs and pea shoots and cooking breakfast for Grant and I, and then drinking coffee with him and talking animatedly about this podcast and this video.
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2016 - written a couple of weeks ago...

It seems to be universally understood that 2016 was a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad year. For me personally, I haven't felt so much stress and tension regularly since the year I was diagnosed with PTSD. I do have good and bad things to recap, though.

I kept most of my resolutions, which were things like, "spend a lot more time at the ocean," "actually try out meditation at least a couple of times and see how it goes," "take some solid steps in the direction of polyamory that are not just talking about it," and "pick a grad level academic direction and start heading in it."

To that end...I attended several free oceanside beach meditations, of which one was great and the rest were mediocre; a couple of paid, indoor group meditations led by a former teacher, which I found way more helpful but harder to work out logistically since they're during the week; and downloaded a meditation app that I used three times, all of which were mostly spent trying not to fall asleep. In addition to the beach meditations, I started trying to get to the full moon drum circles on Miami Beach once a month, and made more trips down to Tavernier for lunch and The Water. 10/10, must continue all that ocean time.

I joined some polyamory fb groups, and a meetup group, and went - with Grant - to a potluck the meetup group has. Started delving into who will vaccinate an older person (non-teen) against HPV, spent time with a couple of guys in ways that made me understand myself as being "demisexual," (albeit on the nympho end of that scale, which is why I initially rejected the idea since it's on the asexuality spectrum for many), worked through truckloads of jealousy wrt Grant meeting someone else for lunch until I realized all kinds of shit about myself, and then felt better about it. Final poly verdict: I'm only interested in forming friendships that might turn into more but will probably never do traditional "dating," where you're feeling each other out as strangers to see if you want to be romantic partners, because I kinda just don't work that way. While it's gonna take an amazing and fortuitous connection to be worthwhile, I AM very interested in forming those friendships. In their own right, and for the possible lover-potential sometime down the road.

The academic-direction-picking seemed clear once I thought honestly about how many different things I still want to do with my life. I still have angst about this at times, as I was IN LOVE with neuropsychology and studying botany was one of the greatest things I've ever pursued...but I can't be in school in a way that consumes my whole life, I just can't. This MSW and eventual licensure is something profitable that I believe in and think I'm good at, and it checks a lot of boxes re: things I've wanted to do since I was a kid. AND I can still be a parent, and write, and travel, and have a social life, and a million plants, etc.

So! Resolutions aside. 2016 Good and Bad Recap!

BAD:

-I spent so much of this year deeply preoccupied by mental health crises in my 3 older children. I mean each of them, one after the other, occupying months in a row of keeping me up at night and straining my ability to keep calm during the day. I'm very grateful to have excellent health insurance and the time and resources to get a lot of counseling and medication when necessary, but damn. This has been a parenting year to shave years off my life. The happy ending is that everybody is pretty much doing fine for a few months now, with some periodic backslides... And, I guess, that they took turns and didn't all struggle hard at the same time. Gaaaaaaaah.

-My Pa was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer and I was the only one willing or able to speak up and tell him it was ok, if he didn't want to deal with chemo, and just wanted to enjoy the rest of his life.

-I had two seriously taxing, entangled interactions with my mother that needed recovering from... both involving lots of alcohol and tears on her part. Most notable perhaps was the moment when she was reiterating her deep love and loyalty for me and I said, "Those are just words!"

-I have really let myself down with reference to writing. I had big plans at the beginning of this year, and they've haunted me literally every single day, but they've yielded basically nothing. I experience stress about this EVERY day at some point. The urge to write is so strong and...it's complicated.

-I was really caught up in, and then sad about, the democratic primary results - and downright devastated by the presidential election. Both involved so much suspense, late nights, tears, grief, anger... We donated money, applied stickers, erected signs, attended rallies, voted, shared articles, argued with relatives, etc, etc, ETC. I listened to a lot of NPR pretty much daily at the beginning of this year, but just can't really deal with it at all anymore.

-Speaking of constant, oppressive stress... I usually experience a lot of that surrounding major life transitions, and especially success I have no context for. So getting my Bachelors (physical diploma) in the mail, the congratulatory emails from school, applying to grad school, getting accepted to grad school, interviewing with agencies for practicum - they've all involved a WHOLE LOT of this. I've been distant or distracted or irritable with Grant (because I really won't allow myself to be, with the kids) SO OFTEN this year, and then we have these embarrassing conversations where I admit I just can't handle it anymore that every day for a month could be the day the diploma or the decision arrives, or whatever irrational shit. UGH!

-I also had the worst asthma I've ever experienced, and major allergy flare-ups. Sleeping several nights with accumulated dust and foreign cat hair had me relying heavily and regularly on inhalers for the first time in my life, for about 3 months. Whenever I'd try to stop, I'd realize I was moving as little as possible and getting light-headed from the slightest thing. It's really only for a month or so now that I can walk fast and talk at the same time, again, or read to Elise for a whole chapter without hitting the albuterol first. It still comes everywhere I go just in case, but I can actually sing loud along with the music in the car without going into coughing fits.

-Death is just...everywhere? Our beloved pediatrician of more than a decade died, and Elise wore a Spiderman suit to his memorial service (he was known as Dr Spiderman). Someone I have invited into my home, the partner of one of my good RL friends, just killed herself in late December - there have been long phone calls, home visits, a memorial. And then of course we have the neverending stream of celebrity deaths that this year has brought. Alan Rickman and Fidel Castro felt the most personal for me, but it's hard to count the number of times my social media feeds have turned to grief and tributes and sometimes that collective woe really gets to me.

-The sex drive disparity in my marriage has really been almost at it's worst - "almost" because we can be honest now, so that's better than when we couldn't communicate about it well many years ago. This is partially due to Grant's depression and need to focus on himself, and partially just who he is and who I am, but it's just way too familiar for me to be up late by myself night after night as several weeks go by in between times. Conversations about it lead to (shared, conversational, intimate in their way) tears way more often than sex. I understand that this might sound dramatic to some people, but this is really something with the power to make everything else happening seem much better or worse, for me.

-And it combines with general social loneliness in a pretty awful, heavy way. I have made BIG strides toward forming new RL community for myself this year (classmates, meetup.com, OKCupid, a couple of other homeschooling moms, etc), but they haven't really come to fruition quite yet.

Fucking hell man just really laying all this shit out makes me see how heavy it's cumulatively been.

GOOD:

-I got my physical (Bachelors) diploma in the mail! It stopped being weird at some point, and I hung it on the wall and now it feels real and I'm proud of it!

-And I got into grad school!

-And knocked out my first chunk of it! (like holy shit, how do I have one semester of a two year program finished already wtf)

-My actual degree program is amazing. I like the material, adore a couple of the teachers, LOVE some of my classmates. Class time is intense, friendships are developing, and there is excitement about the future in many ways. The agencies I'm going to be working with for internships do really important work I believe in. I had to do academic writing that references specific legislation, policies, and precedents for the first time. A++

-Attending the Herbal Conference in February was amazing. Life changing, even. Restorative, etc. I don't know where to begin. Magic.

-Solo roadtrip in July was also pretty great, with old friends and new. It was also very hard, as the allergies and asthma shit started, but I needed it so bad. Swimming in the cold springs for the first time, hanging out with Kristin again for the first time in a year, staying with Jess and Cale and eating and talking, just very very good stuff.

-Dresden Dolls show in Coney Island was the greatest concert experience of my life, and just...rad. St Patricks' Cathedral, too. The food throughout the trip. Experiencing Ananda's experience of it all. NYC can be fucking rad.


Miscellaneous:

Some of the songs of 2016 for me were -
Gorillaz - On Melancholy Hill (both accoustic and regular)
Beck - WOW
Sylvan Esso - Coffee
Star Band of Dakar - Sigala
Rilo Kiley's whole Pictures of Success album
RHCP - Dark Necessities

Foodwise -
This was the year I learned how to make good polenta and went crazy with it.
Found Chill Bar, along with the rest of the Yellow Green Market.
We put fish tacos and Grant's homemade salsa into the regular dinner rotation.
I felt much better when I ate zero grains, and ok if I just at least stayed away from gluten.


I would like to state for the record that it is SHOCKING that it's already January 16th, and that "2017" still sounds like some kind of wild sci-fi concept shit, to me.

I am still deciding on resolutions for this year, which has been a January-long process for me these past few years.
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2014: Year in Review

1. What did you do in 2014 that you'd never done before?
Marched in a political protest (against Monsanto).
Put Ananda (14), Aaron (13), and Jake (9) in school.
Had all five of my kids in school at once.
Got a tattoo!
Got allergy tested, with the whole fam.
Saw a dermatologist.
Began a lifestyle of frequent injections.

2. Did you keep your new years' resolutions, and will you make more for next year?
I had fewer defined resolutions this year, but I did keep them. I want to do more defined ones again, for the coming year.

3. Did anyone close to you give birth?
My friend Kathy had an ENORMOUS baby boy :)

4. Did anyone close to you die?
No. One of my Nana's twin sisters died, and an uncle of Grant's who I'd only met once, and a cousin had a grandmother who is not my grandmother die, and my mother in law's best friend's husband died - it danced around the periphery of my life a little too often, but didn't get too close.

5. What countries did you visit?
ALMOST France, blast it all. Still planning that.

6. What would you like to have in 2015 that you lacked in 2014?
A bachelors degree.
Additional finished writing.
More than anything, health and energy - and I did have those for a lot of 2014. But I really felt it, when I lacked them.

7. What dates from 2014 will remain etched upon your memory?
The call, on Halloween night, that my mother in law had been rushed to the hospital in an ambulance. She's STILL sick, though out of the hospital now :/
Thanksgiving with my Mom AND Dad, and my brother and his girlfriend being here, and Laura AND FRANK coming over - just a major and unusual confluence of my family.
Meeting Anne Rice! Meeting Caitlin Doughty! Both a lot of fun, both with Annie in tow.

8. What was your biggest achievement of the year?
Hmmmm.... getting Ananda and Aaron auditioned into and settled at this great school they're at now seems really huge. Also the feeling of achievement that they've both been more than academically prepared to enter 8th and 9th grade honors classes is affirming as all hell. The first day of (their) school, when all five of them felt so happy and into it at the end of the day, also felt pretty great.
Wading through each of my kids' emotional struggles with them feels like it was the hardest thing I put effort into. Especially Isaac's anxiety attacks and Aaron's depression. Definitely bringing Elise back home.
I did also lose over 30 pounds and buy multiple pairs of pants with fucking buttons and zippers.

9. What was your biggest failure?
Fall semester at FIU. I really FEEL like I failed by continuing to cough for months/having my hernia bulge out as much as it did before I lost the 30 pounds :/ And getting triggered as all hell by repetitive doctors' visits. All that shit, my big ball of 2014 failure.

10. Did you suffer illness or injury?
Yes. Stupid sickness we all got in September turned into 3 months of terrible coughing and exhaustion. I was still pernicious-anemia-sick in January, but then felt pretty good until this started.

11. What was the best thing you bought?
It was really fun watching Annie just giddy after she got her newest skates, showing off on Lincoln Road.
REALLY fun doing this tea party birthday with Elise, at an English tearoom we reserved, she was beside herself.
A meal at The Fish House, with Grant and Isaac.
I also liked getting Ipsy bags in the mail.
New phone's camera quality makes me really happy.
Love this tattoo every day.

12. Whose behavior merited celebration?
A few of my kids' teachers, that I frequently appreciate.
Grant; I wish I could give him an award on a stage somewhere, with a speech.

13. Whose behavior made you appalled and depressed?
This is a hard question to ever answer honestly. Some things I have been saddened by this year, in sharply escalating order, include people leading with offers of friendship and then trying to sell me things; facebook friends acting overtly racist; and a flasher who thought it was appropriate to approach kids.

14. Where did most of your money go?
BJ's trips
Our electric bills (over $500 per month for the 6 hotter months)
Transportation (gas/tolls/car payment/insurance/maintenance)...We had to replace the van's whole computer system in the summer which was just ridiculous...
There is a neverending stream of one time expenses - this year that was mainly things like getting the kids all their school uniforms and supplies, and having our AC coils cleaned and septic tank pumped.

16. What song will always remind you of 2014?
"Ya Hey," by Vampire Weekend.

17. Compared to this time last year, you are:

Thinner or fatter:
thinner

Richer or poorer: mmmm....we have a little bit more money, but also more debt/expenses because of septic tank troubles and van troubles

18. What do you wish you'd done more of?
My botany class!

19. What do you wish you'd done less of?
COUGHING.

20. How will you be spending Christmas?
It was good - lowkey at home, which was a relief honestly. This is the first year I was really able to not feel sad about Christmas Eve, since my Nana's strokes, so that was nice :)

21. What was your favorite month of 2014?
I don't really have one. I liked getting a lot more energy after my shots started kicking in, and I've liked the cooler months.

22. Did you fall in love in 2014?
I fell in love with plants *batting my eyelashes*

23. How many one-night stands?
I am taking opinions in the comments on what to permanently change this question to, since I'm tired of seeing myself and everyone I know that does this meme post some variation on "oh come on" every single year.

24. What was your favorite TV program?
First half - Season 2 of Orange is the New Black.
Second half - Bob's Burgers.
In between? MY HERO, LOUIS CK.

25. Do you hate anyone now that you didn't hate this time last year?
ISIS. I don't know if that counts.

26. What was the best book you read?
Smoke Gets In Your Eyes (and Other Lessons from the Crematory), by Caitlin Doughty.
However, I am still slowly savoring Prince Lestat, by Anne Rice, and My Life in France by Julia Child, both in little morsels I allow myself here and there because I don't want either to end.
And I loved the book/original version of Orange is the New Black.
I'm rapidly DEVOURING Amanda Palmer's Art of Asking, since Grant got it for me for Christmas.
It's been a good book year! Grant and I are sharing lots of books these days through him listening to audio versions during his commute and me reading traditionally.

27. What was your greatest musical discovery?
Vampire Weekend.

28. What did you want and get?
To hang out with Jean-Paul and Jess, respectively, in Jacksonville.
To attend various author events.
LOTS of time at Pinecrest Gardens and Fairchild Tropical Gardens.
A credit card increase, and another card (Operation Improve Credit reaching next level).

29. What did you want and not get?
Increased lung capacity.
More hours in each day.
To go to France, in the summer, with FIU.
More local friends, and/or time to actually hang out with them.

30. What was your favorite film of this year?
"The Grand Budapest Hotel"! I loved it, in the theater with Grant and later at home with Ananda and Aaron.
I really liked the 7 of us going to see "Maleficent," too.
And, I do want to see "Into the Woods" and the new "Annie" remake sometime, but haven't yet.

31. What did you do on your birthday, and how old were you?
33 - and I got a tattoo that I'm really happy about :)
I also bought a ton of local seafood to cook at home, for us. Lobster and shrimp.

32. What one thing would have made your year immeasurably more satisfying?
Two hours of sex twice a day, whenever I was ovulating.
Having house cleaners in regularly would also be good, though.

33. How would you describe your personal fashion concept in 2014?
Lane Bryant.
Fabulous hair.
Aprons.

34. What kept you sane?
EMDR. And it really did. I can interact with my mother and feel ok for the first time in basically my entire adult life. And, now that I'm through the other side of it, I recognize that ONE month long incident of being triggered in the fall - out of the whole year - is a really huge (PTSD) victory. Most of the year I did not feel like PTSD was more than something I had dealt with in the past.

35. Which celebrity/public figure did you fancy the most?
Hmmmmmm. I was eating up the Jolie-Pitt wedding, especially coming after Maleficent as it did.
I thought Chris Pratt was as endearing and Chris Rock was as wise as most other people did.
I discovered Ezra Koenig's twitter and love it.
I would support Elizabeth Warren for president.
I follow Nikki Sixx and Macaulay Culkin on Instagram, and Kimya Dawson on tumblr.

36. What political issue stirred you the most?
The midterm elections, and then the lack of indictment in the death of Eric Garner.

37. Who did you miss?
KRISTIN (we sometimes send hundreds of texts back and forth in a single day, and I manage to hang out with her kids when they're down and her mom when she's at derby...) Gah, why did Kristin have to move away?

38. Who were the best new people you met?
Jake and Christy are pretty cool, though our schedules are usually incompatible.
Some of the people in my classes were good, one of whom now lives on as a mutual tumblr friend.
I have some hope for getting together with someone who came out of the woodwork in a comment thread here to tell me we'd met at a PATH event.

39. Tell us a valuable life lesson you learned in 2014:
The school day is not as long as I thought it would be.
Having kids in school is at least as much effort as having them homeschooled is. I am definitely going back to my previous college methodology (online and around Grant's work schedule, rather than with the assumption that they will not have teacher work days or get sick or need a volunteer, or WHATEVER).
I am severely allergic to dust and can't expect to feel very good if I live the way I typically have (with seldom washed curtains and bed canopy, and too much fabric, yarn and so forth everywhere, I mean....with every out of sight surface neglected...you know).

40. Quote a song lyric that sums up your year:
Oh, you saint
America don't love you
So I could never love you
In spite of everything

In the dark of this place
There's the glow of your face
There's the dust on the screen
Of this broken machine
And I can't help but feel
That I've made some mistake
But I let it go





2013
2012
2011
2009

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So, this week has been kind of a bust. Or not, depending on how you look at it. I can look back and name off the meals I cooked and the things I cleaned and the time I spent with Aaron or reading to the little kids, or the hours and hours and hours sleeping in and laying around with my illnesses. I read a book and two epic length fanfiction stories and took a great bath and wrote poetry for the first time in a year or more. I feel decidedly crusty - nose, eyes, throat, eww.

I'm thinking about New Years Resolutions. I made a LOT of them last year, and I think i did pretty well with them. I mean I had a fucking ton of really drastic resolutions and reiterated many times that it would be "my year", and I have to say that while I didn't do everything I wanted and see more to improve on...I am no longer the creature I was this time last year, hiding inside of myself. Keeping huge secrets from my husband in an increasingly unhappy marriage, wondering what I was supposed to be DOING with myself all the long hours of everyday, feeling hopeless and helpless. Uh-uh. Big shit for me, after 3.5 years spent just trying to hang on and survive following 2007.

2011 Resolutions:

-to be totally honest with Grant and fix this shit even if we kill it in the effort

I was definitely totally honest. About how woefully unsatisfied I was and trapped I felt and the massive doubts that were obsessing me. Through the help of objective friends, counseling on both of our parts, and hitting rock bottom, as it were (I think that was the day he spent sobbing and screaming while I took the kids to a party feeling like I wanted to die), we came to some huge conclusions. He realized he's got a major problem with codependency and we both realized what that actually is. He read books about it, joined web forums, started going to meetings. This was massive. Grant hadn't ever done any "work" on or for himself. He had to accept that it might be for himself because we might not pull through it. We started having fun, realizing our youngest kid is definitely old enough to be left for a few hours every week - doing stuff we've never ever done for no damned reason but that we hadn't, like taking baths together and going to the beach at night and walking around Miami on Saturday evenings and blaring music together blasting over causeways. I think I freaked him out a bunch of times telling him fantasies and wants I hadn't ever felt like there was any point saying to him, things I didn't feel like he could deal with, let alone relate to - I had this whole GIANT ENORMOUS ALWAYS ON MY MIND secret part of myself that I was just keeping for myself, like as though I was going to get a chance to utilize it with somebody else one day or something? Subconsciously though. And we broke through a ton of it and spent a ridiculous amount of money at the sex store and he actually found some independent desire and motivation to get it on that was really amazing for me. Is really amazing for me. He also realized he has dietary intolerances that were making him grumpy and tired all the time, and fixing that...there is really no way to explain it. It's like the best of Grant I ever got, is Grant all the time without corn O_o We thought it was sugar, like, forever, but I think retrospectively that's just because corn syrup=sugar so often. And that explains why going off "refined" sugars always made such an obvious, positive difference to him. I had to fess up a lot too, that I had tons of energy and passion that I just had to find my own way to channel and address because it isn't his job to regulate my moods all the time, and that shouldn't be threatening for him. I needed/wanted a social life outside of our family, and to do things for my own sense of identity (like school, and writing, and even silly things like tumblr). He had (sometimes has) this idea that if I'm having a bad day, he's failing or sucks, and it drives us both nuts. Suffice to say...Grant has always been a good friend to me, a great support system and provider and a kickass Dad for our kids. He's always been an ideal partner in times of crisis, which we've had aplenty. But the last 6-8 months of our relationship have without question been the best time we've ever had, personal relationship-wise. I was so desperately hopeless once we settled into no more babies, no more emergencies life and I felt completely unengaged and stifled as a woman...this is badass. We still stumble, both of us, in different ways, but overall I can't believe how this has all turned out vs where we were a year ago.

-to actually make birth control happen and stop courting fate
I sucked it up and got the copper IUD. Which was surprisingly empowering and also required jumping through an awful lot of hoops (multiple exams, around $700 all told for the device and insertion which I really had to go against Grant on, financially, an ultrasound a month in when my strings had dissapeared, a hellaciously painful first period). I really love it and feel very good about it at this point. I keep meaning to post an update - my bleeding is not changed at all from what it was, I haven't had increased pain since that first month, no spotting mid cycle. It's really like it's not there. I forget about it for weeks at a time.

-to step outside my own box and do things and live my freaking life
I don't know how to explain the level to which I spent 2008, 09 and 10 and sitting around in the house, talking about how one day I'd do something, hoping I wouldn't suddenly die everytime I got a little bloated. I mean. Damn. I guess I also spent a lot of time driving the van, taking kids to activities and hoping I wouldn't die. But I definitely didn't talk to people much anymore, and just. Ugh. Aaron and I going to NYC was sort of my first taste of "WTF have I been DOING? I didn't ACTUALLY DIE IN THE ICU, gah!!" Anyway, I think I did pretty well. I went out in the evening with Kristin alone, up into the city, multiple times. I had Jess here for a week and we went out and got my nose pierced. I took walks and lunch dates just Gloria and I, and met Dana for coffee. I talked to David and Memo on the phone and Heather online again, and texted the heck out of Sara and Robby at different points. I got closer to Cybele and Karen at PATH to where they're actual real friends and not just moms I talk to at meetings. I got past this weird irrational alcohol stigma I've had my entire life from my weird childhood and discovered drinking (at 29...I swear).

-to establish real social lives for my kids
Most definitely. Every one of them has real, good friends now that they see regularly, and A and A have the kind of fun and adventures up the road that make me kind of jealous remembering being their age. We got to TLC and PATH every week now, too, in addition to Elise being in preschool.

-go back to college
This is my most measurable success, I guess. Or obvious or whatever - I think the real biggest is Grant and I. But this is still big! I spent months and literally dozens of visits to advisement, financial aid, the bursar, and registration at two campuses, filled out tons of paperwork, gathered documents, filed appeals, and generally bent over backwards and got all my financial aid in place and schedule set up for summer. Still more logistics and bureaucracy for fall. But yeah between having something for me, being challenged with deadlines, having structure, talking to other students, it's been a really positive thing. We've also gotten refund money that's been helpful for us. And I'm off academic probation now, and about halfway done with my AA :)

-finish, edit and publish my short stories, and edit, get illustrations for and publish my children's book
This is about a half success. I did a lot of stuff I might not have without the goal in place. I finished the short stories (which feels very good to me...there are 20 of them, written over 3 years), solicited great editors who did a lot of helpful work for me, got an illustrator working on the kids' book who has done a bunch of good sketches and a couple of real drawings, and did TONS and tons of research on agents, self publishing, the changing industry, book length limitations, genres, etc. My artist flaked out in a "beyond my control" sort of way due to his life circumstances and that pushed his dates back by a whole lot, and I haven't actually finished making the changes on the short stories - this is what fell by the wayside once I was back in school. But I still feel like it moved forward in exciting ways and is all much closer to fruition now as a result. It's real, all but done and I know what to do next.

-lose weight
I had a plan for this. ETL one month, off the next. I thought I had it all worked out, like I'd be off October (Grant's, Jake's and my birthday, potential trip to New Orleans, Halloween candy) and December (Christmas season). I planned to "cheat" only for Thanksgiving day. And I was on ETL faithfully MOST of January, and lost 13 pounds. Then I started doing some horseshit like I do, like well ok I'll eat whatever I want this weekend and then go back on, but be on for SIX WEEKS rather than just a month, to make up for it. But then at the end of the weekend I'm like, well, maybe I should just do 3 weeks on (like I had already accomplished), 3 weeks off (which would be immediately advantageous). Except then when the 3 weeks off was over, I was like hey why don't I try Weight Watchers instead just as a trial and see if it works as good or better? There's an iPhone app! And it didn't. And I gave up. And I was so emotional about how many times I've failed at this and how I just keep gaining gradually year by year and how I'm gonna be either in emergency surgery for my hernia or a 400 pound diabetic with black feet like my Ma, that I was like, Ok. I can't even think about this anymore. It's seriously driving me insane. I'm going to cry and have a nervous breakdown if I think about losing weight anymore. So I didn't. I ate whatever the fuck I wanted for the rest of the year. I got pissed when I would note that, say, when I started sleeping at night again (part of Grant and I's relationship improvement plan) and not eating at night anymore for the first time in my LIFE, it made no difference. Or that when school and preschool started and I had to walk and ride my bike miles regularly, it made no difference. Au Contraire, I've gained back the 13 pound loss plus an extra 20. Or so. I just got on the scale this morning for the first time in 2 weeks and I'm up another 5. AWESOME. I talked to my gynecologist about testing my thyroid when I was getting the IUD since thyroid troubles run up the same side of my family the weight comes from, but since I was getting ready to be on Grant's new job's insurance plan we decided to wait so that it wouldn't be a pre-existing thing and we could potentially get it for free. I don't have other thyroid symptoms anymore, though. I'm just fatter all the damn time. And, I didn't talk about it here because it was too painful and awful, but I was in counseling a few months ago - a low cost study program thing the UM psych dept does, I wrote about that at first - video cameras and supervisors and things, remember? Well. After a couple of sessions the guy called me and told me I have a serious eating disorder that's beyond their ability to treat so he couldn't see me anymore. They gave me a name and number to some place I never called and I freaked out and just kind of dropped that whole experience down the well, so to speak. Filed it somewhere way back in the back of my mind to hopefully never think about again, basically. I just...fuck, you know? So clearly this is something I NEED to tackle, but I really don't even know where to begin. If I think about giving up just about anything I regularly eat or drink I just immediately feel like crying and like it isn't worth it because life wouldn't be worth living anymore if I couldn't drink coffee or couldn't stay up late snacking on bullshit with Grant on the weekends or couldn't have alcohol a couple of times a month or whatever the hell. I NEED a steak when I'm on my period, blah blah blah. *sigh* My sister is apparently really concerned about how much I've gained and talked to my mother about it and UGH. Ugh ugh ugh.


So, yeah. Lots of huge success, some partial success, and some mega fail. I'm trying to map out what I want to do with this coming year, now.
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