Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Thankful for such a full, prosperous life

And there they go again, more weeks flying by. My days are filled with learning and work, my evenings with family and home. I am weary and frantic most of the time. Some days I drag myself out of bed, unable to open my eyes until I've had more than half a cup of coffee. By 7 PM I'm ready for bed again, my brain overwhelmed with everything it's managing at once.

For all of this, I am thankful.

It's funny that I'd feel this way. Maybe it's the holiday. Today, despite my fatigue, I realized that I am this tired because my life is filled with prosperity. Not the monetary kind (that sure would be nice someday), but the learning, growing, adventuring, challenging kind. When I step away from the stress and frustration of grad school, I am able to see how much both my child and my self are thriving. The reason I am so worn  out is because of the possibilities in my life. My world has gotten bigger with more opportunity.

All I have to do is figure out how to get through this time with my sanity somewhat intact.

Happy Thanksgiving to you all. May you know your own blessings, including the ones you might think are so hidden it's a wonder you can call them blessings at all. Those are where the real riches of life lie buried.

Friday, November 12, 2010

It's Haiku My Heart Friday

What's Haiku my Heart Friday? Head over to my writing/publishing blog Medusa's Muse to see the poem I wrote this morning, then click on the Haiku My Heart link for more info. Some of my favorite Bloggers have also joined in the fun, including Ms. Moon and Elizabeth.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Nothing cures a cold like The Thin Man

Okay, I'll admit it. I'm sick. Sick-as-a-dog. Queen Teen has been sick for a week and I've busily been caring for her while guzzling tea and sucking down Vitamin C and D to hold back my own stuffy nose and sore throat. For a while it looked like I had fought off the bug, but on Saturday it knocked me flat on my ass like a germ-infested Sumo wrestler. Queen Teen went back to school today, still a little stuffy, but in good spirits and fever free. I climbed into bed with a box of tissues, the portable DVD player and a stack of old movies.

I am a 1930's and 40's movie fanatic. My favorite movie of all time is The Thin Man (1934), followed in close second by The Thin Man Returns (1936) with Myrna Loy and William Powell.

Originally a book by Dashiel Hammet, the Thin Man is a comedic, mystery movie featuring husband and wife crime fighting duo, Nick and Nora Charles. Nick Charles is a former P.I. with a love for alcohol and a reputation for solving the unsolvable. After marrying his heiress wife, Nora, he gives up fighting crime and instead pursues the perfect cocktail. But Nora won't let him retire. When an old aquantance disappears, Nora badgers him to take the case. Nick reluctantly gets pulled in by the police and the missing man's family.  Eventually he solves the mystery, effectively coming out of retirement, even though he continues to deny wanting to be a detective again. Nora is thrilled by the excitement of solving mysteries and lends a hand whenever she can, or when her husband is unable to stop her. 

But it isn't the mystery that makes this series of films so memorable. It is the quick wit and hilarity of the characters, Nick and Nora.

Nora: Take care of yourself
Nick: Why, sure I will.
Nora: Don't say it like that! Say it as if you meant it!
Nick: Well, I do believe the little woman cares.
Nora: I don't care! It's just that I'm used to you, that's all.

Nick: I'm a hero. I was shot twice in the Tribune.
Nora: I read where you were shot 5 times in the tabloids.
Nick: It's not true. He didn't come anywhere near my tabloids.

Nick: The important thing is the rhythm. Always have rhythm in your shaking. Now a Manhattan you shake to fox-trot time, a Bronx to two-step time, a dry martini you always shake to waltz time. 

Besides being a brilliant detective, Nick is an alcoholic. If he isn't drinking, he's looking for a drink. Some people may find the constant reference to alcohol and drinking offensive, but in the context of the time period, it's hysterical. Remember, The Thin Man was made only one year after prohibition ended, so alcohol had just returned to the main stream and being a drunk was considered funny.

Nora is that rare 1930's movie wife who is beautiful, funny, adventurous and smart. She keeps up with Nick's wit and drinking, and their chemistry together is what really makes The Thin Man a classic. It isn't the mystery that keeps us hooked, it is the romantic relationship of Nick and Nora. 

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Proof I'm still a bit batty

I've been feeling a tad overwhelmed lately. Too much to do, all of it important, all of it needing to happen today. And the fatigue has come back with a vengeance. I wake up in the morning and actually feel pain when I force myself out of bed. I'm back on coffee just to get my body into some kind of shape before I tackle the day (but not so much caffeine that I turn into bitch-mom. It's a fine line).

"I feel like such a wimp," I whined one day to my husband. "Other people can do this, why can't I?"

He nodded sympathetically, but went on working on his computer.

"I know I'm doing a lot, but I'm so frickin tired all the time. Seriously, how do people raise kids and work?"

"You've got a little more on your plate than most people," my husband said, still working on his computer.

"Yeah, we do. But I know people who's kids are more disabled than ours and they can manage to hold down a job. I'm just a wimp."

He just kept working on his computer.

I waited for some kind of response, for him to say, "You're not a wimp, honey."


"Your silence makes me feel that you think I'm a wimp."

He glanced at me quickly, gave me a quick smile, then went back to working on his computer.

My mind went into panic mode. Oh my God, my husband thinks I'm a wimp! He's afraid to say anything because he doesn't want me to feel worse, but he's too honest to say he doesn't think I'm a wimp if he thinks I am one, so he's just pretending that I never said anything and then maybe I'll go away. I'm a wimp. I really am! Here's the proof! He won't even look at me...

I got up from the table and walked away, feeling like the bottom of my world had dropped 100 feet and the walls were too slippery to grab a hold of. The feeling stayed with me for two days, a crushing depression that grew as that evil voice in my head chanted loudly "You're a wimp. You're a wimp. You're a wimp..." It got meaner after a while. "You're a loser, a wimp, a weakling, a nothing. You can't do anything. You are the most worthless human being on the planet."

Do you know how much money I've spent on therapy in the last 20 years to get this voice to shut-up? I don't even know where it came from! No one ever said that to me. My parents never sat me down on the couch when I was 5 and declared, "You are nothing." So why do I have the meanest, cruelest, evil inner voice in the world?

After 36 hours, I'd had enough. "Shut up!" I told that voice. "I'm not listening." And I didn't. It took an enormous amount of energy to redirect my thoughts away from that cackling mantra of failure. I forced myself to think of what I had achieved (Grad school, motherhood and a publishing company... Hello!). When that inner voice got extra sadistic and shouted, "And your fat too," I told myself I am beautiful and stronger than I've ever been in my life (which is true. thanks to Kettle Bell, I can now lift my 90 pound daughter over rain puddles without hurting my back, something I couldn't do 2 years ago). Very slowly, that voice lost some of it's power and returned to that nagging whisper that is easier to ignore.

Therapy didn't get rid of that voice, it taught me how to manage it.

I still have a feeling that I am lacking, though. No matter what I do, that feeling just won't go away. I guess this is why I do so much. Time to stop.

Maybe with a little more practice, I'll be able to just live and not have to prove to myself that I deserve to live.

And maybe I'll learn not to try and talk to my husband about something important when he's working on a computer. He probably didn't even hear a word I said. 

Yep, I am still a tad batty. Maybe we all are.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Full Circle - Interning with Laura Fogg

The first book I published through my press, Medusa's Muse, was called Traveling Blind: Life Lessons from Unlikely Teachers, written by my daughter's Orientation and Mobility Teacher, Laura Fogg. A memoir about her 30 years as a teacher of visually impaired children, Laura shares stories about many of her students and what each child taught her about life, joy, grief and hope. My own daughter's story is one of the chapters. I had watched her for 10 years working with my daughter, but publishing her book gave me a clear picture of what being a teacher of visually impaired people was like. Shortly after the book was released in November, 2007, I applied to the O and M program at San Francisco State.

Last week I started my internship with Laura, riding with her all over Mendocino County, teaching toddlers and high school students, both multiply disabled and able bodied, English and Spanish speaking. She also works with other teachers to help them understand a child's vision issues and parents to help them communicate their child's needs. She eats lunch in her car and rarely takes a break. Occasionally she works 10 hour days. But through it all, she seems joyful and tireless. Even when she's starting to feel the stress because everything happens at once, she has a smile on her face. 

I want to be just like her when I grow up.

Life has come full circle. Queen Teen was born visually impaired. Laura has been her teacher for 12 years. Laura wrote a memoir. I published it. Her book inspired me to go to school. Laura is now my Master Teacher.

Hey, someone tell Oprah. I think our story would make an excellent feature for her magazine.

The other perk to this internship is I now get to work with my own daughter. It kind of feels like cheating taking Queen Teen on shopping trips and nature walks after school. Queen Teen is in heaven. She likes going on outings with Laura, but with Mom in tow, it's that much better.

And this is Laura's office

Anderson Valley in October

And this...

And here's one more shot of Laura Fogg's office, which is mine for the next five weeks...

The Village of Mendocino
No wonder she loves her job.