Saturday, July 31, 2010

Not a Good Day

You know, there's something I don't understand.  I am a good teacher.  I love my kids and I care fiercely about all of them even the ones that are not so easy to love.  My students can and have thrown anything at me and I have risen to the demands of the situation and overcome all odds.  A child falls off of the monkey bars and directly onto her head after hanging by her knees-no problem-Muddy to the rescue.  A portable basketball goal comes crashing down on a 7 year-old boy's head right in front of me, causing a gaping gash in his temple-no problem, I'm on it.  A child with peanut allergies is exposed to peanuts, hand me the epipen and I save the day.  A homeless intruder walks into the breezeway next to my classroom, I'm out the door to intercept and detain him until the police come (okay, so I actually just sat and talked to him on the bench outside, I didn't have him in a chokehold or anything).  But I do not panic in any situation when it comes to my job.

When it comes to being a mom, however, well that's another story.  Sometimes I feel like the world's biggest failure as a mom because I can't overcome my daughter's issues.  E suffers from severe anxiety.  She comes by it honestly, my mother-in-law, my mother, my husband and I all suffer from anxiety.  But E's is so bad that we have sought counseling for her.  We work with it, but occasionally it overwhelms us.  When she came back from sleepaway camp, she spent the next week attached to my hip, refusing to do anything or go anywhere.  If I wasn't right there forcing her to read, or play a game, or be with a friend, she sat like a lump as close as possible to me.  It drove me crazy and I felt horrible for needing to be so forceful to overcome it.

E has started orthodontic treatment and currently has an expander in her mouth that I have to crank every night.  She swears to me it doesn't hurt, but I dread the evening hours because I know that I am going to have to widen that gap just a little and potentially cause her pain.  I get a sympathy headache every time I do it even though she is just fine.  If she were one of my students, it wouldn't even cause me a second's pause.

We went to a church picnic at a congregant's house on the water today and while E was playing on the deck, she got a splinter in her hand.  I was trying to use a needle to get it out, making sure to be ever so gentle, but it wouldn't budge.  Ever since my family (including E) had MRSA, she has been terrified of needles.  There I was, scraping at the skin, holding her hand fairly tightly because she was trying to pull away and the next thing I know she was having a mini-seizure and slumping over the table.  Her eyes were glazed over, her lips turned blue and she had a white ring around her mouth.  I kept trying to ask her questions and she couldn't understand what I was saying, she just kept saying, "I don't know, Mommy."  I realized she was in trouble, but I was all alone inside the house so I dragged her outside and started screaming for help.  The one good thing about this church is that an inordinate amount of the members are medical or law enforcement.  A life long nurse and a sheriff came rushing to my side and helped me sit E down on the bench.  They checked E over and told me not to panic, that E was okay even though she was still very out of it.

We took E back inside and the nurse gave E some orange juice just in case her sugar levels had dropped (she hadn't eaten very much today for as much as she played) and told me just to let E lie down on the couch.  I did that and after about 10 minutes of resting E was ready to eat something.  20 minutes later she was out jet skiing.  I was still freaking out.  It took me a while to realize that E had hyperventilated when I was trying to get the splinter out.  I was afraid she was having an epileptic seizure or had diabetes, or worse yet, a brain tumor.  Then I sat there questioning over and over again whether I should have insisted that she go to the hospital, but all of the medical people told me no, that she would have been subjected to a lot of needles and radiation-oriented tests when she had all the classic signs of hyperventilation.

And here I am, left to wonder and second-guess myself, because what if I made the wrong choice?  Yet, if she were my student, there would have been no indecision on my part.  I would have known what to do.  But she's not a student, she's my flesh and blood and seeing her in that state terrified me.  I know I am going to be watching her like a hawk for the next week.

And for those of you who wonder why I don't have her on medicine, she doesn't suffer from depression.  Both of the psychological professionals I have talked to about her feel like her anxiety would be better served by training her how to manage these attacks.  But man, I hope that was the last one.  Sometimes I wonder if I'm going to make it as a parent.

Monday, July 26, 2010

An Embarrassing Moment

I can't write about my demons.  They just don't want their dirty laundry aired and I have to respect that.  Instead I thought I would write about my run-in with a famous hottie.  Well, he was famous and hot back then.

When I was 22 I worked in the home office of one of the biggest banks in the world.  If you're over 20 years old you probably had one of their credit cards.  Now it has been sucked up into some other big company, but back then it was huge.  I loved working there.  Even though I was only a teller, I got to hobnob and joke around with some of the richest people in the world.  I was a fast teller, reliable and able to keep my mouth shut, so I was a favorite.  Some of my regular customers included Les Wexner of the Limited, the Governor of Ohio, one of the regular referees for the Rose Bowl; basically anybody who was a mover or a shaker in Columbus, Ohio.

Both of my roommates at the time worked for local state representatives, but the roommate whom I had known since I was 16 also babysat for one of the OSU football coaches.  One day this incredibly good looking man came into my teller line.  He wanted to withdraw some money from his personal "play" account.  That's what he called it.  He told me it was the account his manager had set up for him as his spend money.  He didn't say this in a rude way, just a matter of fact, everyone has a "play" money account kind of way.  When I pulled up the account it has $300,000 in it. I just about choked.  Everyone should have that much fun money.

But it was his name that struck me.  I looked from his name, to him, back to his name and tried to figure out how I knew him.   Ah-ha!  My roommate had talked about him.  So, being as I was young and brash and stupid, I looked at him point blank and said, "Do you know my friend Karen?"  He looked at me, shook his head and said, "No, never heard of her."  Still not knowing who he was, I carried on, "Are you sure?  I know she knows you."  He looked at me again and, still being gracious, shook his head and said, "Sorry."

Now it was really bugging me.  I knew I knew his name.  Finally, I couldn't take it anymore.  I asked him, "How do I know you?"  He smiled at me and said, "Well, I played football for OSU."  Well now it made sense.  "My friend babysits for one of the coaches!"  I practically screamed at him.  "That's how I know your name!"  So now, here I was, standing in front of a cute and RICH man.  I decided to do a little flirting.  "So, what do you do now?"  I gave him my best come-hither smile, which quickly faded as he said, "Um...I'm the quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers."  Now I was really embarrassed since my mom's family is from the Pittsburgh area and they are HUGE Steeler fans.

Needless to say, he walked away with his money and WITHOUT asking me out.  Which is probably a good thing since he was arrested for domestic violence this year.  Alas,  because of my inability to follow football (which is a crime in Columbus), I would never know the joy of dating Mike Tomzcak.  Sigh.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Demon #1

I have been watching a lot of True Blood lately.  Normally I don't like vampire/fantasy things, but something about this show appeals to my weird side.  I was particularly intrigued when Tara, a bitter adult-child of an alcoholic, goes to a fake exorcist to expunge her personal demons  Essentially her personality is so abrasive that no one can get close to her.  Now, I don't really believe in the devil or demons or things that can take over your soul.  But I do believe in evil, and I also believe that a person can have something so powerful inside them that it takes over their spirit.  It causes someone to suffer and battle inner turmoil and changes their personality and that is what I am going through right now.

I have alway held the phrase "Better to light a single candle than to sit and curse the dark" close to my heart.  So that is what I am going to do.  I am going to shed light on some of my personal demons in hopes that the light will wash away the dark.  It may not be pretty and the writing may not be fun, but I am guessing a lot of people who read this blog have the same demons inside them that I do and might have some insight that I don't have.  So here goes....Demon #1-Working out.

I hate to sweat.  I hate being hot.  When I was in high school I joined the swim team because I wanted to take part in a sport, but I didn't want to sweat.  I walk my dog early in the morning or late in the evening because I hate that muggy, clothes sticking to your skin feeling.  I am a snow-bound midwestern born woman who just happens to live in the south because of love of a man, not the love of the land.  So when my life gets busy and my time gets short, the first thing to go is working out.  I look for excuses not to work out.

The flip side of that coin is that I am very embarrassed by how far I have fallen in taking care of myself physically.  So embarrassed that for a whole year I refused to go the Y and have the trainer set me up on the weight machines.  I didn't want anyone to actually see how weak I had become.  But when I turned 40 I promised myself that I wasn't going to make excuses anymore.  A 40 year-old woman should have the right to stand up and say enough.  So I did.  At the beginning of this summer I went to the Y and had a big, muscle-bound man put me into the computer and I began working out again.   My fear of this moment was so bad that when the trainer left me halfway through for just a few minutes to help someone else, I started to shake and almost ran out of the building.  But there was a church member there working out who had seen me and I didn't want to have to explain where I went, so I stayed and made it through. 

For the past 5 weeks I have diligently gone to the Y and worked out 3 to 4 times a week, only missing one workout when Hubby and I went out to the bed and breakfast.  I have gone when I would rather have taken a nap.  I have gone when I felt bad.  I have gone when I had 12 thousand other things to do and really didn't have the time to go.  One day it was so bad that I actually started crying in the middle of the workout, not because it hurt, but because I felt like such a blob working out.  Correction, I felt like a WEAK blob.

But what really sucks is that for all of this working out I have done for the past 5 weeks, NOTHING is happening.  In fact, I have gained weight.  I haven't eaten more, I haven't splurged or been bad with food and I still have gained weight.  I don't feel stronger, I don't look slimmer, I don't feel better and I am heavier!  This does not motivate me to continue working out.  In fact, every ounce of me screams to just stop torturing myself and go back to being a sloth.  Just give up and let the fat take over.  Let my blood pressure continue to rise and eventually develop weight-related diabetes.  The demon is strong within me.

However, I have an 8 year old daughter who, if not for her athleticism, would have my weight issues and I need to set a good example for her.  I have a family that wants me to be around for many more years and I know, or at least I tell myself, that even if I am not losing weight, I am protecting my heart and helping my body.  I know that eventually the weight will come off if I just keep going.  But it doesn't feel like it right now.  All I hear is this loud voice in my head that just says I am not good enough and I should just admit it and quit.  But this time I won't.  This time I have a therapist on my side, my Hubby pushing me forward and not letting me give up,  and my own 40 year-old self that says it is time for this demon to go away.  I have carried this demon around for so long, I really want to know what it feels like not to have that weight on my shoulders (or my hips as the case may be.)

So back to the Y I will go.

Sunday, July 11, 2010


As some of you may or may not know, I do not remember much, if not most, of my childhood.  I have bits and pieces that float through my head here or there, but as for tangible, concrete things, I have very little.  I can only name two of my academic teachers throughout the years.  I went to 12 different schools by the time I graduated from high school and I am not even sure I can name all of them.  It's as if I just wiped the slate clean and started fresh when I hit my senior year of college.  This has been causing me a great deal of stress lately due to my therapy so I decided to open...the box.

The box is an ordinary moving box, about 1 1/2" x 2" and over the years everything has gotten shoved into it.  My college writings sit next to my Ft. Hayes scrap book.  An assortment of programs from shows I have been in litter the bottom. There are pictures of me with people I hazily recognize amidst pictures of people I am still close to even to this day (Jenn, boy you wore loud clothes in the day!).  It even holds my high school diploma AND my fancy wedding certificate.  But the most amazing thing it holds is my 6th grade diary.  I was sorting through some pictures and Hubby found it, opened it to a random page and read (much to my embarrassment) OUT LOUD, "I am in love with William Shatner."  I screamed at him and had to tear the book from his hand because he was laughing so hard and wasn't willing to give up this sudden insight into the crazy woman he had married.  I finally wrestled it from him and sent him out of the room.  Then I sat down to read.

The first thing I discovered about 12 year old me is that I was a hypochondriac (okay, that hasn't changed) but I was also very self-centered and critical.  Everything was "I hurt this" and "I hurt that" and "I'm going to teach so and so a lesson!"  God, I am not looking forward to my daughter turning 12 if she is anything like I was.  But that was pretty much the entire tone of the diary.  It seemed like nothing happened to me and I only complained about various health things.  Well, there was one thing.  I wrote in  my diary on June 27, 1982, that I had a feeling the Columbia (which was on its 4th mission at the time) was going to explode.  That sent a few chills down my spine.

Alas, my diary gave me no help in my search for my childhood.  But I did find a program from a show that I ran costumes and make-up on during my senior year of high school.  There, in bold print, was the psychic vampire's name.  I was stunned!  I don't remember knowing him prior to the disastrous show at the old movie theater.    In fact, I don't remember that show at all.  All I remember is what the theater space looked like, nothing more.  But there was his name and now I have so many more questions than before.  Questions that I can never answer.  I found him on Facebook and know that he lives in Cinci, but there is no way I am opening up that can of worms!

But the hardest thing for me to look at were my college writings.  I got washed out of the BFA theater program at my college because I didn't "have that special fire!"  As a result, I turned to writing as a minor.  For some reason I thought saying I had a BA in theater WITH a minor in creative writing would result in more job offers than just a plain old BA in theater.  BWA-HA-HAAA!  That was a joke!  But my writing instructors went a long way to soothe the pain caused by my theater teachers.  I was tormented and tossed aside in theater (even though I would get my revenge and have more callbacks at the Ohio Theater Alliance Association Auditions than any other student my college had ever sent!)  But my writing teachers nurtured and supported me.  They berated my horrible grammar and punctuation, but they saw something in me and went out of their way to let me know they thought I was good. 

So I sat on my kitchen floor pulling page after page out of the box of things I had written and realized something:  I was horrible!  Everything I wrote was drivel and pompous and...and...verbose!  But the teachers' comments are still there and they are positive and inspiring and thought-provoking to this day.  All I can do is wonder how they managed to read my stuff and still find something that indicated talent.  They must be miracle workers.  Sadly, even though they meant so much to me, I can't tell you what any of their names were or what they looked like.  Even that is just a vague memory for me.  But I remembered the things I wrote.  I guess that is something.

After I went through everything, including my brother's notebooks that had journal entries prior to his death, I carefully put everything back in the box, sealed it up and hid it away.  Maybe I'll open it in another 15 years and see something differently than I how saw it today.  Or maybe not.  Either way I definitely know one thing:  I AM NOT IN LOVE WITH WILLIAM SHATNER!!!!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Weapons of Mass Destruction

Hubby and I are lucky to share a lot of good memories together.  Every now and then something will happen that triggers a special memory, however.  Tonight we were eating at a restaurant on the water talking to E about our early history.  This was before Hubby and I were married, when I was still living in the half of a double in German Village.

Now, the part of German Village I lived in wasn't the safest of neighborhoods.  Also, my next door neighbor's house was separated from mine by a mere 5 foot breezeway.  People would occasionally cut through between our two houses to get to the park, or to escape the police or to do....well...whatever.

One night after Hubby and I had gone to sleep and my roommates were all settled for the night, we all heard a sound downstairs.  It sounded like someone was trying to break into the house.  Hubby and I are both pacifists and will never own a gun.  Roommate number one was dating (and is now married to) a raging lunatic who scares the crap out of me and probably stockpiles huge amounts of ammo.  Roommate number two, although very sensible and peaceful, was climbing the ladder to her now very high-powered government job and has her fingers in the pies of some major things.  My guess is she carries a concealed weapon at all times.  Seriously, she's that big a wig in Washington.  But at the time, we were just three women living alone and unarmed in this questionable area.  By the luck of the draw,  Hubby was the only man in the house that night.

My roommates crept into my room and asked Hubby to go downstairs to check out the noise.  Off course Hubby didn't want to walk down the long flight of completely enclosed stairs empty-handed, so we all searched our rooms for some implement of pain.  We discarded hangars, shoes, books-things to throw that would really only piss a robber off.  But then we remembered the movie St. Elmo's fire and Roommate number one came up with a can of hairspray, the kind that actually sprayed, not pumped.  Of course none of us smoked, so we didn't actually have a lighter, just the can.  Roommate number two didn't have anything acceptable so we grabbed the only other thing from my room that looked like it might deliver, if not a painful blow,  a rousing sting.

Hubby descended the stairs with a can of hairspray in one hand, a pink yardstick in the other, and three very scared young women behind him.  It was almost a scene from Three's Company plus one.  There never was anyone in the house.  We assumed it was just someone crossing through the breezeway, but I can only imagine if we had a real robber entering the house.  I can see Hubby now yelling at the man to "Stop and be coiffed!"  or "Take one more step and I'll measure you!"

Oh...I forgot to all the rush to get downstairs before someone actually got in, Hubby threw on the first thing he could grab.  He gallantly rushed to our rescue wearing robe!  Yes folks, this is your pastor!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Pastoral Mistakes

Hubby and I don't like cable.  We have cable, but we pay $12 just to have the basic package of the 4 affiliates, CW, Sci Fi (which I am losing next week for CSPAN) and the weather channel.  There's an assortment of religious channels and shopping networks but I don't watch any of those.  The next level up is $60.00 and you get a lot more channels, but the channels don't necessarily have anything worth watching.  When I have access to all of those channels I get sucked into shows that deal with flipping houses, or eating more than a human should eat in a week, things like that.  They're not things that better my already sloth-like personality.

To offset the lack of things to watch, however, Hubby and I have Netflix.  I love Netflix.  We run it through our Wii or on our laptop and I can watch real shows that I don't normally have access to without being tempted by the 45th showing of "A Baby Story" or what not.  Seriously, how many times can I watch a woman writhing in agony before I change the channel?  Obviously ad nauseum because I never change the channel, thus the need for Netflix.

Anywho, Hubby and I have been watching the Tudors on Netflix.  The first two seasons were available online but the third season has to come to us via DVD.  I love the historical information, the costumes and parade, but yes, I also like the sexiness of it too.  I love Jonathan Rhys Meyers.  He can do no wrong in my book. 

Well, we watched an episode via DVD on our laptop on Saturday night and Hubby forgot to remove the DVD before church Sunday morning.  In fact, he forgot about it entirely until it came time for his Sunday School lesson.  He set his computer up and started the DVD player in his laptop, thinking his DVD for his Sunday School lesson would start. Only churchy, theological stuff didn't start.  The Tudor's did.  Hubby was a little embarrassed (after all, this church already complains that he is too "well-rounded" aka intelligent).  What would they think of us watching this show that routinely portrays people, gasp, fornicating?  And uses big words and requires one to think!  But all I could think is thank God we weren't watching our other favorite show: Californication!  We might have had some 'splaining to do when David Duchovny's foul mouth and bare ass appeared on the church sanctuary screen. 

Bad pastor!

Saturday, July 3, 2010


For my entire married life Hubby and I have been struggling financially.  We had just begun to pull ourselves out of the deep moneyless hole when we got moved here and took such a huge hit to our income.  You may remember I had desperately wanted to go to Santa Fe for my 40th birthday but that didn't happen.

Anywho, I was recently talking to a church member who is even more in debt than we are.  She just had a hysterectomy that her insurance declined coverage on AFTER it had already been approved (something about her being an outpatient who "decided" to spend the night in the hospital).  She now owes the hospital $15,000, which she doesn't have.  BUT she also decided to take her family on a cruise a few weeks ago by charging it on credit card.

When she told me about this it made me cringe.  I am ultra-responsible and can't imagine taking a cruise when such a large bill hung over my head.  But she told me that it was SO large that she didn't want it to prevent her from enjoying life.  Now, it is not physically possible for me to charge tickets to a cruise.  I would be worrying the whole time I was on the cruise about where the money was coming from.  But I did talk to Hubby about how I felt life was passing us by and I wanted to try to incorporate a few more adult excursions into our life.  Nothing that was so expensive that I would panic, but a concert here, a night away there.

So Hubby took that request to heart.  We have to pick my daughter up today from sleepaway camp which was 2 1/2 hours away from our home.   Hubby found a nice bed and breakfast in this quaint little town just 45 minutes from her camp and whisked me away. (One of my readers lives just a few towns away from here!)  It's a beautiful place.  If you ever saw the movie "Fried Green Tomatoes"  the house is laid out just like the one in the movie where the woman NOT played by Mary Stuart Masterson is living with an abusive husband.  It is right on a river and we could walk into town to have dinner on the water.  Which meant we also got to split a bottle of wine because neither of us had to drive.  All in all we will have spent about $200.00 that we don't have, but it has been worth it.

But that wasn't the only surprise my husband had planned for me.  I work at the local arts council which also has a gallery that displays local artisan's work.  Almost a year ago there was a showing of a local silversmith jewelry maker.  She designed jewelry with a nature theme and I fell in love with this one necklace.  It was only $75.00 but it might as well have been diamond encrusted because I couldn't see spending that much money on a piece of jewelry when we had taxes to pay, braces for E to buy, etc.  Still, I would go and visit this necklace every day as I walked out of work because I loved it so much.

As Hubby and I were closing the door to our room to go to dinner last night, he asked me to wait a minute and went back into the room and emerged with a bag from the arts council.  I immediately knew what it was and promptly started to cry.  Not because I was upset, but because Hubby surprised me and made me feel so special.  A while back we read "The Five Love Languages" together.  It is actually an enlightening book.  Hubby's love language is gift giving (mine is quality time/acts of service).  He had been holding money back since I saw the necklace the first time.  He told me that he was proud of me for all the work I have been doing in therapy and for the fact that I am back in the gym working out and trying to actually take care of myself.  This was his gift to me.  I was so touched that I kept tearing up all night.  I don't know what it is about this necklace, but it touches me in some way.  I think it is the way it represents my artistic nature.  I've been hiding away the artist in myself for a long time and I am finally starting to acknowledge her again.

So I am sitting here typing away in a lovely B&B, wearing my new necklace and wishing I could bottle these few moments and remember them forever.

I love that man.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Checking in

Hubby says this is a "had to have been there" story, but I can't stop laughing about it so I will share it and see what happens.  One of my few friends here in Country Time left today to live abroad for three years so I am kind of low and need a good laugh.

I am teaching a theater summer camp right now where the kids spend 5 days with me and we produce a 30 minute show in that time.  Their performance is tomorrow.  We haven't managed to get through it yet without dissolving into laughter.  It's not that the show is that funny, it's just that these kids are like my own kids and  they trust me with their teenage thoughts and angst.  That trust runs over into some mighty funny antics.

Before we begin rehearsal we play some improv games to warm-up.  Yesterday I decided to teach the game "Quirks."  You probably saw this game on "What's My Line?"  A host is giving a party and guests enter who have strange quirks.  The host must guess what their quirk is.  I didn't want the host to hear me tell the students what their quirk was so I wrote each one on a piece of paper.

Things were going well and we were all laughing at each other's silliness when I gave my only male student the paper that said, "Fly buzzing around ear."  I asked him if he understood what it said and he said "yes."  Then he disappeared out the doorway to make his grand entrance.

Damned if that boy didn't enter AS a fly and start buzzing around the "host's" ear.  It was made even funnier by the fact that we had worked on commitment to character this week and he was being the best fly he could be.  I started laughing so hard that I couldn't catch my breath and tears started rolling down my face.  I kept trying to speak to stop him and tell him that HE was supposed to have a fly buzzing around HIS ear, but it was just too funny.  The host finally figured out that he was a fly and the scene stopped and I managed to spurt and stutter and tell him what he had done.  We all laughed for another few minutes but I complimented him on his commitment to being THE FLY!  He was very honored to receive the compliment.  But everytime I think about it, I start to laugh again.  I just hope they can get through the show tomorrow.