The worst part sometimes is that there’s no reason

I have depression and anxiety.   It’s not really a secret, I just don’t really talk about it.  Which I guess kind of makes it a secret, just not one I never fully intended to keep.  I was diagnosed a little over 4 years ago when I made an appointment with a neuropsychologist to determine if I had ADD, desperately hoping there was a reason for how I felt, but not a real serious reason, you know? 

Because of my lack of “official” school records, I could not be diagnosed with ADD.  However, I could be diagnosed with depression and anxiety.   Not severe.  Not even terribly bad.  The doctor did not recommend medication, but he did recommend cognitive behavioral therapy, which I have yet to commit to.

I can remember being sad for no reason as early as 11 or 12.  I would have a few periods of that every now and then and basically I’d just give in to it, cry my eyes out, and move on.  I made that work for me without questioning it or thinking too much about it.  Eventually, it manifested in other ways that were seriously affecting my life… which is what led me to the doctor, someone my friend knew from guitar class (thank God I had good health insurance at the time). 

As soon as the doctor told me he was diagnosing me with depression and anxiety, I thought, “OF COURSE”.  I felt this huge weight come off me.  I almost cried I was so relieved. 

That seems weird, right?  That I’d be happy to be diagnosed with depression?  But let me tell you… I thought I was just terrible at life.  I’d get overwhelmed by housework and just shut the door on it.  Literally.  I’d ignore it because I couldn’t deal with it.  I’d forget to pay my bills on time and then being late with them would stress me out so much that I would ignore them further.  I know.  It makes NO SENSE.  But it did to me at the time; it’s how I got through the day.  I’m STILL dealing with the fact that I was unable to complete my tax forms four years in a row.  I also perseverate.  That’s how I like to refer to it.  That one foolish or awkward thing I said?  That moment I accidently insulted someone?  I hold onto it and revisit it over and over and over again.  If I did one stupid thing, I would revisit all the other stupid things that I had ever done.  I also perseverate on all the things that can possibly go wrong in my life.  It sounds like a joke, but I worry a lot about having left appliances on when I leave the apartment, or did I leave the car doors unlocked?  I worry that something’s happened to my husband if he’s home late from work (that this patient man continues to lovingly deal with my anxiety is one of the greatest gifts in my life).  I worry about why a family member is calling me in the middle of the day.  Did I check to make sure the cat wasn’t in the spare room before I shut the door and left the apartment?  I perseverate.   About everything that could possibly go wrong, which apparently leads to a need to control everything. 

Amazingly, I was still mostly managing to be good at my jobs over the years.  Helping people complete the same activities I could not do on my own, like housecleaning, bill paying, grocery shopping, meal planning, etc.  Helping to coordinate massive city-wide grant processes.   Renewing millions of dollars of grants for housing for people dealing with homelessness.  I ended up losing a job the week before my first appointment with the doctor who would end up diagnosing me.  I made the appointment because I knew I was slipping… and I didn’t know how to reach out for help, so I went looking for an ADD diagnosis because that one seemed okay to me.   I’m an alpha personality.  I’m a superhero.  I help others – I don’t need any help myself because I can do it all.  At least that’s what I thought.  And I hid the fact that I was drowning from everyone. 

It didn’t take me long to come to grips with having these things, especially since it was kind of a relief to find out that I don’t suck at life and there’s a reason that some things are really hard for me to do.  But it’s taken me about 4 years to come to grips that I actually need to do something about it and get better at taking care of myself so I can keep functioning in the world. 

I accepted the diagnosis.  I figured I knew what was wrong with me and now I’d just move on.

HA.

What happened was that I ignored it.  I refused to let it get me down.  But I didn’t do anything to stop it, I just refused.  That’s not really effective, FYI. 

Let me say this: I am extraordinarily lucky in that I do not need to take medication.  I’m able to control it primarily with exercise and strategically scheduled downtime.   I’m not against medication at all; I’ve witnessed how it can appear to be nearly miraculous in helping people with severe depression.  I know that I am lucky that my depression is not that severe. 

So back to the beginning of the post… sometimes the worst thing is that there’s no reason.  If I tell someone that I’m having a really crappy week, their first response is to ask me why.  I don’t want to sound flippant and say, “I have depression, that’s why”.  Because I don’t want to be snarky at that time.  I don’t want to be anything, actually.  I pretty much have no desires at all.  I feel blank.  Why is my week crappy?  Because it’s crappy.  Why am I sad?  Because I’m sad and there’s no reason and that’s making me even sadder, because I can’t explain it.  I’m just… blank.  I don’t care about anything.  I don’t enjoy anything.  I want to, and the wanting to enjoy things without being able to makes me feel even crappier.  It’s a vicious circle.   And the thing is… I can fake it.  I can go out and I might even briefly feel good.  But it’s for a moment and then it comes crashing down again.  I don’t always feel like this.  It comes in waves.  And I’m beginning to get pretty good at actually coping with the triggers that I learned to recognize a long time ago.  It gets worse in the winter when there’s less sunlight.  It gets worse if I stop exercising.  Seriously, the improvement to my mood if I go for even a 15 minute run before work is nothing short of miraculous in my mind.  It gets worse when I don’t eat healthily. 

I’m currently clawing my way out of one of these waves now.  It was building for quite some time; I saw all the signs and I completely ignored them, hoping they’d go away (they never do).  I couldn’t keep track of everything I needed to do – including a friend’s baby shower I’d known about for weeks, which I ended up flaking on.  I was planning a wedding in the middle of all of this and told myself I just didn’t have time to not be well right now.  And I was angry at myself for not always being able to feel happy when I knew I was happy. A couple months after the wedding, it just became overwhelming.  I dragged my ass out of bed every morning and forced myself to go to work.  Then I would come home and sit on the couch until my husband got home.  I would sit next to him for an hour or so and go to bed.  Lather, rinse, repeat.  The breaking point came a couple months ago.  I had a pretty bad tension headache from clenching my jaw all week (a thing I do when I’m stressed out or anxious), and it hurt bad enough to give me an excuse to leave a social event early.   And even though it didn’t hurt at all the next day, I used it as an excuse again to get out of brunch with some friends.  Because what do you say?  That I can’t come today because I just can’t deal?  That I can’t deal with one more day of pretending I’m fine when I am not?  That the thought of having to fake it one more day made me burst into tears before I even got out of bed?  Because saying those things makes me feel incompetent.  A headache is a much better excuse.  Of course, all the people who I bailed on read this blog.  So now they know.  Now everyone knows.  And that is extremely scary.  It’s one thing to say, “I have depression”.  It’s another to say, “This is what depression looks like for me and all the ways I have difficulty navigating the world sometimes”.  I’m not ashamed of having depression…. But I do feel shame at not being able to deal with it.  I’m not saying that’s right.  I’m just saying I do.   

I’m struggling to climb out of this hole.  I was trying to run every day until I was sidelined by shin splints, so now I’m trying to get up every morning and do a lower-stress workout routine.   I vowed to buy a huge calendar so I could remember all my promises to go places with people…. But unfortunately not before I flaked on a really good friend’s wedding shower.  The calendar now sits right next to the couch so I see it every night and remember all my appointments and plans.  I’ve added additional doses of vitamins B-12 and D to my morning multivitamin.  I’m trying to cook dinner each night instead of eating chips and salsa for dinner before my husband comes home.  And although I’m mostly a social drinker, I’m still trying to cut back on how much alcohol I drink.  And I’m looking into therapy.   I’m still only at the “looking into” stage with that one, because it’s the hardest.  It’s hard for me to admit that I need help with something. 

I feel terrible for my new husband… since I fell into this hole just a couple months after we got married.  And he has been nothing but wonderful.  We’ve had a few talks about how I need time alone each weekend to recharge myself; I’m so glad he understands this need and will encourage me to take time for myself.    Because he is pretty great like that. 

So why am I writing this now?  Because I’ve spent 11 years fiercely fighting stigma against people  with mental illnesses and can’t seem to fight it for myself.   Because I am currently a mental health outreach worker who has a mental illness that it looks like I’m hiding.  Because I feel shame about a thing that I firmly believe people should not have to feel shame about.  Because I am embarrassed by a thing that I routinely normalize for others.  I don’t think it’s a thing that people necessarily have to know about me, but it shouldn’t be a thing that I am afraid of asking for the space to deal with.

The Wedding

So I may have mentioned I was getting married a while back… a looooong while back, since the wedding itself was 2 months ago.

Here’s the story of that week.

Wednesday.  T-3 days
My fiancé C has been off since Friday and this is my first day off.  I have to run downtown to pick up my glasses… there was an issue with my bank card the night before, so the woman who helped me set it all up with her manager than I could come in today and pay for them and then they’d be ready in an hour.  I really want new glasses before the wedding because one lens still has a huge scratch in it (I almost took my eye out with a paint scraper helping my alderman’s office remove signs from light poles the year before) and I want new prescription sunglasses before my awesome honeymoon in California.  I get to the eyeglass store and the glasses ring up as almost $100 more expensive than last night.  There’s no way I can afford that.  I freak out.  I cry a little.  I leave angrily, determined to come back tomorrow.   I start getting a headache at this time, obviously due to stress.  I’m sure the sore throat is due to stress too.  They’ll both go away with some rest.  I meet C for breakfast and we head out to look at some flowers we want for decorations…. We get tired of looking and I need to get down to my mom’s house to check a sweater I bought against the flower girl dresses.  I drive 45 miles to their house.  The sweaters that looked off-white in the store are obviously yellow against the off-white dresses.  Great.  Luckily, while I’m down here, I find the perfect green dancin’ shoes for the reception at a store down here and for cheap!  While I’m at the store, I also pick up some cough drops and aspirin to fend off this pesky stress headache and stress sore throat.  Especially since I’m also starting to get some stress joint stiffness and stress back pain.   I get home and realize that I’m actually feeling pretty crappy.  C goes to have dinner with his dad who’s flown in for the wedding, while I curl up on the couch.  I’m starting to have some stress chills, so we pile on the blankets (bad idea!) and I fall asleep.  When I wake up a couple hours later, I am BURNING.  My temperature, which is usually a bit below normal, is up over 100.  I text C and tell him I’m headed to bed because I have a stress-fever (Yeah, I was still in denial… it didn’t last much longer).  After lying in bed for a while, I take my temperature again and it’s over 103.  I start googling “dangerous temperature for adults”.  It doesn’t make me feel better.

Thursday.  T-2 days
I wake up today and feel like hell. The fever seems to have broken overnight, so at least I’m in less danger of cooking my brain.  I text my sister, who is in town and coming in for an awesome sister fun day we’ve planned, where we were going to get her hair cut, and then mani/pedis, and then a bachelorette party with my closest lady friends: dinner at a vegetarian diner and bowling afterwards.  I tell my sister I will promise not to touch her, but that we might have to cancel the festivities tonight.  I still plan on hanging out with her today because I am Not That Sick.  I then get texts from both my sister and my mom telling me to go to the doctor and cancel all other things I had to do before Saturday.  Sadly, I realize they are right and email my friends to say the party’s canceled.  Then I call my doctor and the earliest I can get in is tomorrow.  I lay on the couch all day, feeling like death and getting a fever again that night (not as bad though, whew!)  Poor C is running around all day trying to finish up all the things I’d been working on for the wedding.  I try and work on the tables some more and make place tags, but I keep falling asleep.   C takes my glasses in to get replaced and then comes back to get me an hour later to pick them up.  Then I go back to sleep.

Friday.  T-1 day
I wake up feeling like the side of my head is going to EXPLODE.  The pain and the constant ringing in my right ear are pretty good indicators that this is the worst ear infection I’ve had in 20 years.   I can barely move it hurts so bad.  I just want to claw the side of my head off and keep pathetically swiping at my ear.  C drives me to the doctor and drops me off because he still needs to get a haircut and was busy taking care of me and my stuff yesterday.  The doctor looks in my ear and sucks in her breath.  Not really a thing you want to hear.  She tells me I have a horrible ear infection and she’s putting me on antibiotics.
Me:  So, here’s the thing.  I’m getting married tomorrow.
Her: Congratulations!
Me:  Yeah.  So, I’m getting on a plane to California for my honeymoon on Monday… is that going to be a problem?
Her:  Is there anyway you can postpone it?
Me:  By a day?
Her:  More like a couple weeks.

Wah wahhhhh.  Yeah.  That’s not possible.  She gives me a prescription and a promise to write a letter if the airlines need it.  C picks me up and I break the news: the wonderful honeymoon he has carefully planned has to be completely scrapped.  I would cry if it wouldn’t just make me hurt even more.   We get home and I lay down on the couch while C starts calling the airlines and hotels.   I feel like I’m dying.  A few hours later, he has to drive to pick up my college friend at the train – she’s the pastor officiating our wedding and is driving the 45 miles down with us tonight for the rehearsal.   I try and pack, but I’m in so much pain and have taken Sudafed so I can’t even function.  I end up forgetting at least 6 things.  Including the flower crowns for the flower girls that my awesome cousin went back to get for us.

Rehearsal time: We are more than 30 minutes late, due to massive traffic back-ups.  We hold the rehearsal in record time, since it’s outside and about 45 degrees out.  We keep assuring our family that the weather reports I was reading said it would be in the 60s the next day.  After the rehearsal dinner, which I barely remember, we make a necessary trip to Target for forgotten toiletries as well as both pajamas and clean underwear, both of which I’ve forgotten.   Then we fold programs and start on the place tags.  I fall asleep while C is writing out names.

Saturday.  Wedding Day

I wake up around 9 am, about 2 hours before we need to leave to be at the site to help get it ready.  Aaaaand….. I have no voice.  I literally cannot speak at all.  I try taking a hot shower and it barely works, but at least I can squeak out a few syllables.  The weather report says it’s in the upper 30s and I see snowflakes in the air when I look out the window.   We reluctantly make the decision to move the ceremony inside and try and contact let everyone possible know, so they know they don’t have to wear long underwear under their dress clothes.  C also calls his mom to ask her to pick up a guestbook, and a friend of his to ask him to pick up some numbers for the tables… all of which we’ve forgotten to do.

I sit down to finalize the playlists for the reception, one of several tasks that was supposed to get down while I was off work, before I got too sick to move.  And they’re gone.  Everything is gone.  Apparently I’d built them while my phone was plugged into the laptop to charge, and some of the music was on my phone and some was on the computer.  Everything is completely messed up.  At this point I just start crying, except it sounds sorta like a squirrel crying because I can barely make any noise.  I can’t talk.  The extra decorations we had wanted to get we didn’t have time to get with me being sick.  The Sudafed is making me delirious and I can’t function.  We had to move the ceremony indoors.  I didn’t get to have my sister day or my bachelorette party.  We’re running late.  The music is all gone.  I have a huge pimple on my chin.  I’m just completely overwhelmed and stressed out and it feels like EVERYTHING is going wrong.

All along, I’d been saying, “It doesn’t matter what happens the day of the wedding, as long as we end up married at the end”.  I guess it’s time to put my money where my mouth is.  C hugs me, tells me he loves me and that it’s all going to be alright.  And then my crying turns into a coughing fit and we have to keep getting ready because we really are running late.  C runs the stuff we had over to the site while I build up 90 minutes of music from scratch.  The woman who works at the Forest Preserve where we were holding the wedding actually ended up assigning table numbers to our guests, since we’d divided them up but forgotten to number them.  We would end up plugging C’s phone into our speakers and giving our friend who was MC-ing free rein to download music and build a reception playlist.

And then it was a whirlwind of getting ready and adorable little girls and tears with my mom and laughter with my sister and my future sister-in-law helping me put on makeup so I look a little less dead.

Image

My mom helps me put on my great-great-grandmother’s necklace, which my mom also wore when she got married

My veil is made out of my mom's veil from the 70's

My veil is made out of my mom’s veil from the 70′s

Pinning the veil in place

Pinning the veil in place

My amaaaazing peacock shoes!

My amaaaazing peacock shoes!

C preparing

C preparing

C's boutonniere

C’s boutonniere

We line up to walk in, with me in the back so C can’t see me.   My sister, the best woman, has a stash of Kleenexes not only for my tears but also because the Sudafed is really cleaning me out.

And then I step into the makeshift aisle, in the hall where the reception tables are already set up, flanked by my parents, Yo-Yo Ma and James Taylor playing “Here Comes the Sun” playing on the speakers.  And when I lock eyes with my husband-to-be, everything else disappears.  Not just from my thoughts, but literally, from sight.  The rest of the room is out of focus compared to him and I know that this is the most right I have ever been.

We may have had to move it inside, but what an inside it was.

We may have had to move it inside, but what an inside it was.

The wedding went off without a hitch.  I managed to squeak out my vows… most people thought I was overcome with emotion, so even that worked out okay.

Fancy shoes for the both of us

Fancy shoes for the both of us

Love

Love

The reception was also pretty fantastic, with great food, great company, great dancing.   We did actually run out of food, but the servers felt bad and ordered a few pizzas for us.  And now we have great stories to tell and amazing memories and amazing pictures of all the love that surrounded us that day

Last dance of the night

Last dance of the night

It was a day where everything went wrong…. And everything turned out completely right.

Ch-ch-ch-changes

Apologies for the extended hiatus…. I’ve been giving some thought to this blog for a while and possible revisions I want to make to it.

I’ve had fun with the entertaining posts; I’ve enjoyed making you laugh and sharing my foibles and ridiculous thoughts… but I also want a place to talk about the more serious opinions I have.  And I have a lot pf them.

So, in the coming months, there will be content here that you’re not used to seeing (although, if you know me at all in real life, most of it won’t be a surprise).  I’ll still have funny stuff… it’s not like my life gets less ridiculous when I’m having Very Serious Thoughts. 

Thanks for your patience with me in my absence.  :)

A Lesson that Pierogi Always Lead to Good Things

Back in November, I signed up for online dating.  I wasn’t super excited about the prospect, but figured I’d get at least a few blog posts out of it.

A couple weeks later, I went to my cousin’s place for a pierogi-making party.  My cousins and siblings and I make pierogi every year for Christmas Eve.  They’re delicious and a vital part of the holiday meal, but they do take a LOT of work.  So assembly line parties are held.

My cousin had offered to set me up with a friend a couple times, which I always declined.  Set-ups are so awkward.  Not only do you have first-date awkwardness, but also the pressure of someone else’s expectations that you should like this person.  Not that I doubted my cousin’s taste.  He is a pretty terrific person, and I had no doubt that he would set me up with someone who was not a murderer, stalker, or rapist.  But still… awkwardness.

So there I was, teaching a few n00bs how to make pierogi, wearing an apron, a pair of old jeans and an aldermanic campaign t-shirt, hair up in a messy bun, and Chuck walked in.  My first thought?  I really hope he’s one of the single friends.  He made an effort to talk to me several times, and I naturally assumed that he felt sorry for me for barely knowing anyone there.  Every time he stood next to me, I got butterflies in my stomach.  After that party, I told some of my friends that there was this cute, nerdy dude there who seemed to be into me, but I didn’t know for sure.

The next week, my cousin had a fruitcake-making party (my cousin likes cooking with his friends).  I went pretty much because I knew Chuck was going to be there.  I may have worn cuter clothes this time.  He took forever to show up and I was worried he wouldn’t.  When he finally did, did I reciprocate his interest?  Of course not… because I am totes awkward and also weirdly analytical.  I performed a little “experiment” where I’d move around the condo to talk to other people to see if he followed me (in hindsight, not my best decision).  Naturally, he thought I wasn’t interested.   I am so awkward.

A week or so later, I emailed my cousin and asked if it would be weird if I asked his friend out.  I continued to tell myself I wasn’t looking for a relationship, but he was smart and funny and cute and he seemed to like me.  Cousin said it wouldn’t be weird.  So I sent him a Facebook message (oh social media… giving me multiple ways to be socially awkward).  The actual message is just for us, but essentially I invited him out for cheap beer and $5 pizza (hey, I was unemployed at the time).  He said yes, but offered to upgrade to someplace a little less dive-y.  By the end of the first date, I was done for.  We went out again.  And again.  And some more.  I met his family.  He met mine.  The cat let him pet her.  We went on an out-of-state trip to a friend’s wedding.

And on June 2, 2012, while sitting on my couch, just hanging out like we do, he asked me to marry him.  And I said yes.  And then we cried.  And laughed.  And talked about our future.  And walked  to dinner, where I told the waiter.   I probably skipped down the sidewalk.  We came home and called our families and close friends.  And never stopped smiling.

I just showed up to make pierogi.  And I met my future husband.   I still can’t stop smiling.

New Roommate

So back in September, I decided I’d had enough of living alone and decided to share my space with someone else.  She’s pretty quiet, likes some of the same TV shows I do, and never gets in the way when I have friends over.  On the other hand, she completely refuses to clean up after herself, doesn’t do any of the cooking, runs in circles around the apartment when I’m trying to relax, and doesn’t understand the boundaries of a closed door.

Introducing Little Bit.  This picture is actually one that was sent to me by my sister this past summer, when we were trying to find someone to adopt her.

Little Bit, her mom, and her brothers were strays that lived in my sister and brother-in-law’s garage.  When she and her brothers (Oscar and Tuffet) were born in 2010, my sister continuously sent me pictures of them captioned like this:

Pwease wuv us :(

Because my sister is a cruel, cruel woman and likes to torture me with pictures of homeless kittens.  Unfortunately, my life and work schedule would not accommodate a kitten.  I worked over an hour from home and also worked a second job a couple nights a week, so I’d often be gone for 20 hours at time.  A kitten needs more attention than that.  No one adopted them, so they grew up in the garage.  Then in 2011, my sister moved out of the state, so we had to find homes for the cats and new kittens.  Oh yeah, because mom (Little Black Kitty, or LBK) and Little Bit had each had a litter.  We’re pretty sure Oscar was the father of both litters…. It was all very Flowers in the Attic in that garage, apparently.  Gross.  Big Sister sent me that first picture above and said it was too bad that I couldn’t take a cat, because she really thought Little Bit was the cat for me.  My sister is a master manipulator, obviously, because I took a look at that little face and decided she should come live with me.  I found a coworker to adopt her kitten, and brought both cats home with me (until we could be sure the kitten was weaned).

Little Bit, so named by my sister because she was so little bitty, was not at all sure about the apartment.  I kept her in the bathroom while I was away from the apartment or asleep for the first couple of days, until I could be sure she was box trained (She already was.  Because she is awesome).  But I’d open the bathroom door so she could come out while I was home and awake.  The first time I did this, we spent at least an hour like this

There was SO MUCH NOISE in my apartment for the poor scared kitty.  And after just a week, I took her to the Anti-Cruelty Society to have her spayed (where I found out how rare it is to have a totally black cat with no white on her anywhere.  She’s so special).

Wherein Little Bit makes me feel like a complete asshole for leaving her at the vet, because now all she wants is to lay by me and be petted and knead her paws :(

When she finally did come out, she went directly under the couch.  And she stayed there pretty much until I quit my job in November (oh right.  BTW, I quit my full-time job without another full-time job lined up in mid-November.  More on that another time).  After I quit my job and was home nearly every day, she started to warm up to me.  She’d come out and play with her toys…

She’d play with things that were not toys too… one of her favorite games to this day is flipping her little pieces of kibble out of the bowl and tossing them under the rug.  She then proceeds to dive under the rug, mighty huntress that she is, to track down those sneaky kibble bits.

Around Christmastime, after I’d been home nearly every day for over a month, she started coming up on the couch and laying just out of reach.  Then she discovered the fleece blanket on my legs, and she’d lay just so she was touching that.  After a week of that, I got this

That poor Little Bit.  She’s so stressed out.

Now it takes her about 2.7 seconds to hop up on my legs once I stretch out on the couch.  She has lain on my lap while I was sitting up exactly once, during a snowstorm when the apartment was extremely cold.  I did some consulting work last week that required me to be on a conference call in the kitchen for about 6 hours a day for two days, and she tolerated it until the last hour each day… she’d come running into the kitchen, mew (which she very rarely does), and run back in to the front room.  As soon as I gave in to her demands, sit down on the couch, with the space heater blowing on us, she’d hop up next to me, stretch out so her nose was in the warm air stream, and hug my leg.  And she’d stay like that for hours if I let her.

I held out for a long time, getting a cat.  I didn’t want more responsibility than my houseplants required.  However, this little kitty adores me like nobody else.  She thinks we’re litter mates, always lays so she’s touching me, chews on my hand when she’s sleepy, tries to trip me in the morning if I’m ignoring her, and will softly pat me on the leg if I’ve gotten distracted and stopped petting her when we’re sitting on the couch.  She likes to watch the X-Files and Dr. Who with me, and tolerates The Bachelor, and would all the potato chips if I let her eat people food.

Welcome to the apartment, Little Bit.  You still won’t do the dishes or bring me a beer, but you have added more to this little home than I thought was possible.

Online Dating Revisited

So I joined an online dating website (no, I’m not telling you which one).  I forgot to cancel my subscription within the first 3 days (as was my plan), so my new plan is to make the most of the next 3 months.  Which means either a) great dates for me or b) terrible dates for me that make great blog stories.  I will not be retelling details of any dates who seem like genuinely nice, honest people… I’m not a jerk.  But if they are anything like good ol’ Derek from my last foray into online dating, I will let you know. :)

So far, just in scanning profiles, I wish I could give guys some tips on how to not sound creepy or douche-y:

1) There are several questions for which “I’ll tell you later” is an acceptable answer: Income, Faith, what college you went toNOTDo you have kids?”  Really?  Really dude, you’ll tell me later?  That means that you almost certainly have children and I’m going to assume the worst about them/you:  “Yes, I have 16 children”, or “Yes, I have 2 children and they like poking people with pins”, or “Yes, I have children.  And a wife”, or “Yes, I have kids.  Every Thursday night with a little mint jelly”, or “Yes I have children, but I sell them off when they reach 6 weeks”.  I think I’ll just pass.

2)  I’m going to be honest… I know that you can’t help who you’re attracted to.  However, when you’re a white dude who has no preference for ANY of your ideal woman’s characteristics (height, body type, hair color, eye color, politics, faith, education, etc), except that she be white… I’m gonna go ahead and assume that you are a big ol’ racist.  It might not be fair of me, but there you go.  I guess if you are looking for other racists, that’s a good way to let ‘em know.

3)  Seriously, that one dude, did you really say that redheads are okay as long as we’re “not too feisty”?!!?  Ugh.

4)  Dudes.  Dudes.  For the love of Pete, don’t put anything about being my future husband, Mr. Right, or any other such thing in your user name.  Be normal and use some variation on your name or nickname like everyone else.

I got an email this past weekend from a dude who used the awesomely non-specific line, “something in your profile caught my eye”.  Really?  Really 44-year-old dude, did it?  It obviously wasn’t the FIRST LINE that states 38 is pretty much the highest age I’m looking for.

The next 3 months could be interesting… or horrifying enough for me to swear off dating again.  I guess we’ll see.

Open Letter to Riders of the CTA – part 2

My dearest fellow public transit travelers,

Last year, I sent you a letter (Open Letter to Riders of the CTA) and I’ve recently come to the conclusion that a follow-up is necessary.  It hurts me that you just seem unable to learn basic rules of commuting and human decency, but I’m committed to helping you make your way in this world with as little inconvenience to me as possible.

Picking up where I left off:

10.  There is absolutely no reason – NONE – for you to sit in the middle seat of an empty 3-seat bench.  Does the “no touching unless absolutely necessary” rule really need to be spelled out for you?  This infraction is the public transit equivalent of one of those various “urinal rules” I’ve heard guys have.  You don’t want to be that person, do you?  The creep in the middle seat who is either going to force people to touch them, or force people to stand because they’re so freaked out by your seat choice?  I didn’t think so.  Do the responsible thing and move over one way or the other.

11.  Your toddler is adorable, he really is.  Who doesn’t love watching a small child take those unsteady steps, with their tiny hand clutching yours for dear life?  I’ll tell you who: the person behind them on the subway stairs during rush hour.  Pick your kid up!  For her safety, for mine, for yours.   Teach him how to walk up the stairs and nurture her independent spirit someplace safer and more out of the way.  Hell, unsupervised on some metal bleachers in the middle of winter would probably be safer than up from the Chicago Red Line stop at 5:20 pm.

12.  I get it – The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is just the most AMAZING book you’ve ever read.  You just can’t put it down… I’ve read books like that, where I squeeze in a few chapters on my commute or during my lunch break.  But you know what I never did?  Walk through a subway stop at rush hour while reading it.  Why?  Because that’s stupid.  It makes me want to walk into you on purpose and then blame you for it.

13.  Do we need to have lessons on how to go through a turnstile?  I wish I could just blame the tourists for this, but it’s well past summer and I know a lot of you I see every day have to walk through these things on a regular basis, so there is really no excuse for not knowing how it works.  First of all, if you are scared of the ones that look like they could slice and dice you, I understand.  Go through one of the regular gates (Psst!  They work both ways!).  But maybe it would help if you thought about this like merging on the highway: You need to enter the turnstile and keep it going at the same speed it was when you got in.  That means NO SLOWING IT DOWN to a crawl.  Or waiting for it to make 3.5 empty revolutions before you get up the nerve to jump in.  Be ready to hop into the first available space or stop pushing your way to the front of the line.  And don’t even get me started on the lazy bastards who refuse to do any of the pushing themselves, and let the next person in line do all the work.  One of the days, I’m not going to.   But not during rush hour, because I’m not the kind of asshole who holds up an entire line of people who just want to go home.

14.  I’m going to take what might be an unpopular position here:  Oranges, unless you have pre-peeled and separated the segments prior to your commute, are an entirely inappropriate food to be eating while squeezed into the seat next to me on an overcrowded bus.  If I get orange juice squirted in my eye because of your inattentive peeling, I’m going to be very cranky.

15.  Finally, because it cannot be said enough times, even if you’ve gone back to read the original letter I linked to above, MOVE. ALL. THE. WAY. TO. THE. BACK. OF. THE. BUS.

Thanks guys.  I have faith that eventually you’ll catch on :)

xo,

MW

Oh the shame…

When I was in kindergarten (before the homeschool years), Thursdays were music days for us and the preschoolers.  We had a music teacher (or just some woman who could play the piano well enough to impress a bunch of 3- to 5-year-olds) come in and play the piano and lead us in song.  One of those songs was something about peanut butter and we had to snap our fingers when we got to the bit about “crunchy peanut butter”.

Friends, I could not snap my fingers.  Oh the secret shame of a 5-year-old!  That song is actually burned in my brain because I remember trying desperately to mimic my classmates while praying that they could not tell that my fingers made no sound at all.  My older sister and brother tried to teach me at home, in preparation for music day every week (we sang that song a lot), but it felt like a lost cause.  I was doomed to be the girl who couldn’t snap her fingers for the rest of her life.  It was my cross to bear.

I’m happy to report that, years later (no joke, I was probably around 11) I did finally learn to snap my fingers.  But tonight I’m going to share with you a couple other things that nearly everyone else I know picked up real easily and I could simply never do.

Swim
Yup.  Can’t swim.  My parents enrolled us in swim lessons at a local university (the only place with a semi-public pool)… it was one of those set-ups where your level was the name of a fish: polliwog, guppy, minnow, etc… I never graduated from polliwog.  :(  My brothers surpassed me easily, leaping off the diving board and swimming out in the deep end, while my teachers were getting more and more frustrated with my lack of buoyancy.  That was what held me back – an inability to float.  I’d lay on my back, with the instructor holding me up… I’d be totally relaxed, totally zen.  And then she’d take her hands away and…. glub glub glub.  I’d sink like a stone and have to be hauled, flailing, out of the water.  After being held back 3 times in a row, I begged off swim lessons and my parents agreed.  I can doggie paddle enough that I’m certain if I get knocked into the river or something one day, I’ll be able to make it to something solid to hold onto.

I actually spent a while dating a guy who had been a really serious swimmer most of his life, breaking national records and whatnot.  He always offered to teach me, and I always found a reason to put it off.  I felt like seeing me panic and thrash about once my head went under the water would not be good for our relationship.

Whistle
No joke, I can’t whistle.  When I attempt it, some sound comes out, but calling it a whistle would be mighty generous delusional.  And it’s weird, but I make no noise at all when exhaling, but am able to make more whistle-like sounds when inhaling.   (Incidentally, there was song that involved whistling in kindergarten too.  It was terrible).  Is there a way that someone can learn how to whistle?  Or is that something that comes naturally to people?  How do I learn this elusive skill?

I feel like sharing 2 of my inadequacies with you is probably enough for one night.  If you want to share anything that you don’t know how to do, I promise you’ll hear no judgment from me :)

BEEP

My smoke detector is extremely sensitive.  If even the teeniest bit of something drips in my oven, it sets it off.  I suppose this is good, since it decreases the odds that I will someday burn up in my sleep from an apartment fire, but it gets really annoying when I cook.  Especially since I do have a tendency to wander away from the kitchen to do other things while my dinner is burning cooking.

So one day, shortly after I moved in (okay, that’s a lie… it was almost a year.  I’m trying to make myself look better here), my smoke detector battery got low and the thing started beeping.  You know that beep.  It’s SO annoying.  And since I knew that the sound carried (my neighbor’s needed its battery changed a couple months prior.  I heard every beep for 2 days), I wanted to change the battery right away before I went to work, so it wouldn’t annoy people.  Because that’s what kind of neighbor I am.  I didn’t have time to go buy a new battery, so I grabbed one out of the kitchen drawer that I knew still had some juice in it.  I stuck it in and went on my merry way.

When I got home, I heard the tell-tale beep as I was about to unlock my door.  Apparently that battery had less juice in it than I thought.  I turned right around and ran to the grocery store near my house, where I picked up the cheapest 9V battery they had.  At a grocery store, that’s about $24.

I returned home, determined to be a responsible renter and not let the building burn down with no warning, and replaced the battery.  Hooray!  Responsible Adult Mairin is here to stay!

Two minutes went by…

WHAT?!?  I knew that battery was good!  Maybe I didn’t put it in right.  So I climbed back up on the chair, removed the battery, waited a second, then put it back in.

SHIT!  Now I was really getting annoyed.  My smoke detector is one of the old-school ones, where the part that beeps is the part screwed the wall.  I got a screwdriver, removed it from the wall and sat down on my kitchen floor to “fix” it.

I unscrewed as much as I could unscrew to see if something was loose and not touching the battery.  And then it happened.

Now I knew (knew!) that there was NO WAY that the sound I was hearing could possibly be coming from the spot where the smoke detector had previously been screwed to the wall.  And yet, that’s what I was hearing.

HOW ARE YOU BEEPING?!!?

I just froze.  I had no idea how to handle this.  My brain couldn’t make sense of what was happening and therefore decided it wouldn’t even try.  I stood there like a fool for a couple more minutes.

Wait.  IS it coming from that spot on the wall?  Is there anything else that could be beeping?

Whatthe?!?

Apparently I have TWO smoke detectors!  In my defense, this second one is in the shadows, blends in with the wall, and is above my not-very-high line of sight.  However, it’s also right in front of the door when you walk in.

I should probably be more embarrassed about not seeing it, but I’m so glad I wasn’t hallucinating, I don’t even care.

Grownup Sicky

This week, I got sick.  And, living by myself like a grown-up, it means I had to take care of myself.  Since many of you are aware of how well I take care of myself when I am healthy, I’m sure you know how great this went.

I try really hard not to whine when I’m sick because whining is always annoying, but it’s seriously one of my least favorite parts of being an adult (along with paying rent every damn month, but what’re you gonna do?).  Because when you’re an adult, living on your own, you have to take care of your own self when you’re sick.

Now, I love living by myself.  I really do.  But the times it really, really sucks is when you can’t text your roommate and ask him/her to pick you up some tea and a couple cans of soup on their way home from work.  You have to pull it together to get your own soup and tea and Kleenexes.  And I will freely admit that while I get these things done, I hate doing them.  HATE.

I should’ve seen it coming.  I was scheduled to work an overnight shift (from which I can’t call off unless I can find someone else to work for me), the weather forecast was for a nearly perfect fall day, and I only had two bags of Echinacea tea left.  It was like the perfect storm of events conspiring to make me feel even lousier.

Day 1:
Wake up with sore throat, coughing, and so much tired.  Set alarm for later to call in to work and go back to sleep.

Wake up feeling and sounding like shit.  Call in to work.  Go back to sleep

Wake up a few hours later to demon cat running laps in the kitchen.  Shit.  She’s probably hungry and annoyed that breakfast is 5 hours later than usual.  Better get up to feed the little princess.  Punk.

Check tea supply.  Awesome.  Two bags.  <whine> I just wanna go to back to bed! </whine>

Force self into shower and into clothes suitable for being in public.  The best I can muster are workout clothes.  Go to grocery around the corner, which, of course, doesn’t carry the tea I need.

Get on bus to further away grocery.   I really just want to be in my jammies and lying on the couch, begging my new cat (the punk) to come cuddle on the blanket with me.  Why does life hate me?!!?  :(

Enter drama.

<whine>  I’m miserable.  I want to be warm and cozy and instead I’m now walking a mile home with 3 boxes of tea.  And soymilk, because I remembered that I was almost out when I was at the store.  Everyone else is out enjoying the beautiful weather and I’ve decided I have strep.  Or tonsillitis (minus the tonsils, whoops).  Or meningitis.  OMG can I touch my chin to my chest?!!!?  Whew!  I’m good.  It’s not meningitis (I have no idea what that little test means.  All I know is that’s what my mom would have us do when our glands were really swollen).  It’s probably bronchitis.  Or the plague.  Shit. I totally have the plague.

You know what I really want to do when I’m sick?  I want to take a hot shower, and put my pajamas back on.  I want to sit on my couch, with my cozy fleece blanket on me, cuddling with my adorable kitty.   I want someone to bring me tea and make me soup, and then sit under the blanket with me and watch zombie movies and terrible natural disaster movies (Volcanoes in LA!  Night of the Tornadoes!  The cheesier, the better) and play video games with me.  </whine>

Accept that being a responsible adult blows.

Text every sub at overnight job and ask if they can take my shifts.  No one can.

Spend rest of day pumping myself full of Echinacea and Vitamin C, nap, and then head off to overnight job.

Survive, barely, and disinfect entire workspace before leaving in the morning.  Because that’s what kind of awesome coworker I am.  Text in sick to day job, since losing the ability to speak overnight, despite copious amounts of tea and cough drops.

Day 2:
Sleep on the bus on the way home.  Gradually become more and more sick of being sick… spiral of self-pity begins….

Put jammies on and watch alien movies on Netflix.  Drink a glass of juice.  Start brewing tea.  Decide to spend rest of life wearing leggings and oversized t-shirts because nothing is more comfortable.

Fall asleep on couch while silently cursing formerly stray kitty’s trust issues and wishing she’d just cuddle instead of sitting just out of reach staring at me.

Wake up hungry and throat-hurty.  Dump out cold cup of tea that’s still brewing and start heating more water.  Make lentil soup.  Take multivitamins because I’m really going to start being healthy now, I swear!

Drink more tea and more juice.  Have now exceeded 1000% of daily recommended value Vitamin C.  Take THAT, you virus bastard!

Watch first quarter of Season 1 of Party Down.  This show was made for people who have to stay home sick.

Sick of soup.  Make beans and rice, adding lots of onions and salsa because that can only be good, right?

Fall asleep on couch during The Big Bang Theory.

Drink more tea.

Force myself to post something on Facebook that’s not about the weird cat antics going on around me, even though I’ve barely had any contact with humans in the past 24 hours.

Have conversation with cat, since no one else would be able to understand scratchy, mumbly words.

Shit.  I’m having a conversation with the cat.

Do the dishes, even though I’m dying, because I’m an effing grownup, yo.

Go to bed.

Day 3
Wake up to the sound of bricks falling outside my window (WTF?!!?) just in time to text my ride and tell her not to pick me up.  Am too tired to check on possible building demolition.  Go back to sleep.

Wake 40 minutes later.  Text in to work due to inability to speak above a whisper upon waking.  Bricks are still being knocked around.  Some level of concern, but feel no unusual drafts, so go back to sleep.

Finally wake for real.  Construction seems to be happening across the gangway.

Feed the tiny demon that’s been running windsprints in my apartment all night long.

Take a shower and force self into regular clothes.

Consider today a victory already since it involves wearing real pants.

Realize I probably should take my temperature.  Slight fever.  Hm.  First time that’s happened in a years.  I’m probably dying.

Go to store to buy more Kleenex.  And oranges because Vitamin C.  Upon leaving apartment, discover that sidewalk in front of building is surrounded in caution tape.  Almost get hit by an I-beam while trying to exit the building.  Decide walking in the street is safer than the 4 feet to outside the caution tape.

Return from store.  Enter building from back.  Seems like the landlord just picked up 3 random dudes on the street and possibly paid them in beer to do major construction on the building.  Sounds about right.

Feel like it’s been about 6 years since meaningful human contact.

Watch terrible movie about a new Ice Age.  “Day After Tomorrow” this was not.

Take a nap.

Listen to 5 Gotye songs on repeat.  It’s probably really annoying the “workers” 4 feet outside my window, but I don’t particularly care.

Look for cat.  Where the hell does she go?

Keep turning on electric kettle and then forgetting about it.  Really wishing for some tea.

Practice talking to see if I still can.

I can’t.  :(

Finally remember to make tea.

Write blog post about being sick (whoa.  Meta, yo)

 

Fin.

 

(yes, I’m delirious.  I hate being sick.  I need human contact!  I need to drink something that’s not tea and doesn’t have 200% of my recommended value Vitamin C in it!)