Spectacularly Normal

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Location: Brooklyn, New York, United States

I have a tendency to unconsciously appropriate other peoples' affectations, leading me to say things like y'all.

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Monday, May 08, 2006

Ta-da!

I'm up and running at the new address. It is possible to automatically redirect from this site to the new one, which has been happening throughout the day, but I've turned that off temporarily because I need access to the old posts in order to reformat them on the new blog.

I won't be updating on this site anymore. Instead, you can find new posts HERE.

I hope you will all continue to join me.

Kiss,
I.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

So much to tell...and sorry for all of the sap

This is what I found when I came home last night: John had gotten back from D.C. and gone out to Brooklyn Chinatown on his snappy new bike to get ingredients for dinner. Dinner was already made and delicious. John bought me a lock for my bike. He was thrilled that I found a great pair of Jeans, regardless of the cost. He'd burned the first six episodes of the last season of Arrested Development, which I didn't even know we finally had. He asked me to close my eyes, then showed me a screen on his computer which displayed the following:

Boo. Whatever you do, do not click here.

Yes, that is my very own domain, which John registered and set up for me. I have to play with the layout and make it look like something I would want people to see before I actually start posting there, so please keep coming here for now. Eventually, when I'm ready to "launch," I'll probably be able to work out a set-up which will just automatically redirect readers from this blog to the new site. I can't tell you how thrilling it is to have this enormous, overwhelming thing that is my very own. I don't know what I'm doing yet, but learning is going to be a lot of fun. There's also a chance that I can get my employer to pay for coding classes, but I'm not positive.

Additionally, having already said all kinds of wonderful things about John the night before, it was acceptable for me to jump up and down with glee instead of saying anything resembling a proper thank you.
Moving on, I saw my shrink this morning. We're going to try adding Lithium to my Depakote. It's a small dose and I'm trying it out for three weeks to see what happens, but I'm still a little freaked. It's a totally irrational concern, but it's Lithium for christ's sake and that's a scary word to me. On the other hand, I'm resigned. Things aren't working and as disciplined as I might be about the sleep...it won't be enough apparently. According to my doctor, there is no way that I can stay out even one night a week. Every day I should be in bed by 10 and up by 5:30. What kind of life is that? Never mind the business I'd eventually like to have and the baby John and I will make. So for now, it's worth a try, particularly since I have John to look out for me if anything starts to go awry.

My jeans are ready to be taken home and I can't wait to have John photograph my butt, so that you can all see how fabulous these jeans are...and how big my butt actually is.

Something else that I'm really excited and happy about is my relationship with my cousin. I haven't mentioned it before only because it's never occurred to me to do so, but Heather has been a really great part of my life. During the last few months in particular, we've gotten close in a way we've never been and we truly are sisters more than anything else. I guess it just goes to show that sometimes family works better when you get to pick it (or when your cousin picks it for you, at any rate). I suppose it's also evidence that when one door closes, another one really does open, because it was during the crisis with my mother that Heather and I started to understand and communicate with each other on a whole other level. Her mother is crazy too...okay, her mother is actually crazier. I know that Heather reads my blog daily and I know that she knows this already, but the fact is that there isn't a day when I take her friendship for granted and I love her dearly. Now all of you know it too.

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Not the perfect mom and proud of it

My cousin sent me a link to an article that I think every woman and mother should read just because it's the kind of reassurance we often need, but rarely come by. It's not the best piece of writing, but the author is really hot, so that's something too.

This is why I really shouldn't be allowed to leave the house with anything resembling a credit card

Okay, so it wasn't credit exactly; it was a checking card. So I paid for my purchase outright. But still.

I finally found and bought the best jeans ever today. They're some fancy issue of True Religion and I bought them at Henri Bendel. I've been feeling pretty sick most of the afternoon about having bought these jeans, because they were so expensive, but now that I think about it, I would have paid as much for the experience of barking "I don't work here lady" at the crabby old rich woman who mistook me for a sales girl while I was waiting for the real sales girl to bring me another size. She apologized, looked at me like I should hop to it anyway, then walked off in a huff claiming that it was because I looked so efficient.

What does that even mean, I looked efficient?

So, finally, my quest is over. However, out of a need to replace balance in the universe, a very fine, unremovable hair or fiber has placed itself in my left eye and is obstructing my vision.

I did manage to read the large neon yellow sign held up by a man standing outside of the store that read: LOOKING FOR WEALTHY WOMAN TO BE MY WIFE.

Everyone has a dream.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

What started out as a post about nothing, but became an ode to John

John has been in D.C. since yesterday. The house feels empty without him. I'm finding that me time often involves some sort of housekeeping that's goes undone when John is home; yesterday it was a sink full of dishes, tonight it's laundry to be folded. It's really strange to realize how much of ourselves we unthinkingly give up when we join our life with another's. It's not a bad thing and it's not a sacrifice and it's different for everyone, of course, but it's inevitable. I know that I always have the option to just hang without John...to break away and do my own thing...but when you've met someone with whom you really enjoy spending your time and with whom you share such a multitude of interests as John and I do, well, it seems stupid to do the same things separately. Which is not to say that we don't go out without each other or spend time alone with our friends. We just don't do it as much as we did when we were single.

The other thing that's weird (but not at all surprising) is that when he's here I think about my life before him nostalgically. I remember what it felt like when no one needed me other than Sophie and it seems like a quieter time. But then John goes on one of his business trips and I'm so glad that my life is not like it was before him. What I forget when John is home is that I was bat-shit crazy most of the time and that carrying a sleeping 35 lb Sophie home from the subway in kitten-heels was no small feat. I forget that the bed wasn't as warm to sleep in and the apartment was too quiet without conversation. I forget how much time I spent on the phone because I didn't like the quiet and how much better quiet is when someone else is breathing in it. When John is here I fail to take into account the more base things like: how hard it is to pay full rent on a fairly small income by yourself. Or buy groceries. I overlook the fact that I would be $40,000 in debt rather than $20,000 if we hadn't gotten together when we did.

There is no way to articulate what this last year and a half has been like for me. I went to a party one night to get laid and I met the one. Now, I don't believe in the one, but shit John's the one. All of the things that I love him for the most are the things that challenge who I am, which, for his edification, includes his sense of humor. He's an incredible spouse and care-giver, a terrific father, an amazing lover, a brilliant teacher and an emotional guru. The last being particularly impressive because his mother and I have often referred to him as The Robot. The last 7 months since my diagnosis have been harder than I could have imagined, but John has lovingly stood by me and supported me and reassured me without ever asking anything in return. When he was sick, he still did what he could to put my needs first; even when I insisted he shouldn't. But that's the kind of man that he his.

A The One kind of man.

So if he happens to be reading this, which at some point I know he will be, thank you John for being everything you are. And thank you for who I'm finally managing to become.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Weekend up-date, including some things I learned about me

Starting the weekend off early, we went to the Gowanus Yacht Club last Thursday under the auspices of trivia night. Apparently Captain KnowItAll didn't actually know that it was a Thursday when he woke up that morning, because no trivia actually took place. We had a fun time anyway and here are pictures to prove it:

As you can see, we are drinking beer. We drank lots of beer that night in order to drown our woes over the lack of trivia. The most significant thing to notice about this photograph is that we are sitting.

This is Uncle TJ. He is the world's most perfect uncle because he is not actually related to us by blood. Sophie picked him out all by herself and she will be the first to tell you that she has impecable taste.

This lovely woman is Johnsmom, also known as Mom, also known as Gramma Lawwa. Here she is learning to use her camera so that she can take pictures of Sophie at the Botanic Gardens the following day.

This is the smooth and cool expression of a man contemplating his next beverage option.

John shows us all up by never letting his attention wane, even after the sun goes down and his belly is full of grilled meats.

We were also joined by dear sweet friend Sonesh, but by then too much beer and hotdogs had been consumed to operate the camera properly.

Friday night we went to Me Bar atop the La Quinta Hotel in Korea town to celebrate my ex's big 3-1. We ran into lots of people, toasted the birthday boy, and got into a little verbal scuffle on the way home that led to my disposing of all the alcohol in our apartment. It was a selfish, unfair move on my part, mainly because it was done out of my own need for control in my life. It was symbolic and expensive and even a bit histrionic, but it was what I needed right then.

Saturday we ran around all day shopping for jeans. I haven't bought a pair of jeans in years and I was ready to go high-end if it meant finding a really nice pair that fit well. What I have learned as a result is that my body is not of this planet because jeans do not exist that will actually fit onto it. It was extremely discouraging and I came away feeling amazingly fat. Fortunately, we stopped at Target where I bought two pairs of gauchos in my miracle fabric: cotton spandex. Now I can feel fat, but comfy.

We also decided that we are going to Greece. Now I have to lose some weight so that I can run around half naked with a lesser feeling of disgust. One thing that is important though is that while I'm desperate for some kind of quick fix, I'm not willing to starve or vomit anymore. This leaves me with only one odious possibility: exercise.

Alas! On Sunday we bought bikes. They are brown and ugly. They are his and hers matching. His has a little Chips style mirror on the handle bar, hers will soon have a straw basket on the front. And I am so fucking stoked!! I love my new bike. I haven't owned a bike since I was twelve and to have just randomly come across these while we were walking in the hood feels like kismet.

Is it too much to expect the bike to solve all of my problems?

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Johnsmom wuz here

Now she is gone and I have time, once again to resume my regular postings. And how better to do so than to memorialize the best gifts my mother-in-law has ever brought us by publishing photos of them here?

These are some new friends of Sophie's. Last night I heard them pillow talking while she was asleep about overpopulating her room and then taking control of the world. Or maybe it was our apartment.

This is a book that will be extremely useful now that John and I have decided to give up drinking for a while. Much like the bread maker that we got for Christmas from Johnsmom (note: we don't eat bread), it is a gift that will keep on giving.

I have nothing funny to say about this gift because I am a crossword junky and this book totally rocks my world.

Much the same can be said of this record...yes, that's vinyl people and I have a turntable on which to play it...because it's fucking Richard Pryor for god's sake...on vinyl.

This is for Amanda

Dear Amanda,

I hope you'll forgive my responding to your post on my blog, but I'm hoping that other people who have experienced any of the things you and I have, might find some sort of comfort here.

First off, I think you have to stop putting so much pressure and blame on yourself. While on the one hand mollycoddling yourself all the time won't make the situation better, you have to remember that you've got a condition that is in a large part out of your control and that it's going to take baby-steps to find an appropriate pace at which to move in your life. You need to think about what's right and necessary for you to feel good about the world around you: what kind of stimuli set you over the edge? what kind of environment are you most comfortable with? are there changes in activity or diet or sleep that might support a higher level of functioning for you? do you need more time with friends who love you, but in smaller doses? could you make a deal with yourself to go out one night/day if you had friends in the night/day previous to that? Does any of this make sense?

For me, the process, which is clearly still very much a process, has been one of understanding how to construct the right conditions under which I can overcome the limitations imposed by my bipolar diagnosis. As we've recently found, sleep is a big factor...huge factor. Alcohol, I believe, is also a factor. Spending too much time in crowded places with too much stimulation is also overwhelming. These are just a few examples of what I meant in my questions above.

I can certainly understand your fears and concerns about meds. The first time the question of meds was raised was last summer when John and I were in India for a wedding. We were there with all of our friends, as well as Johnsmom. One morning, after a long night of celebrating, John suggested that maybe I would be more consistently happy if I looked into meds. I didn't smile as much anymore, or enjoy the things that had once brought me so much pleasure. He was right, of course, but I'd been doing such a good job of convincing myself that if I just lost another 7lbs or another 5 lbs everything would be better, that it never occurred to me that there was anything else wrong in my life. I should say: wrong in the way I felt about my life.

Needless to say, when he brought the issue up, I refused to consider it. I was terrified of meds. I had totally irrational presumptions that I would end up a fat emotionless vegetable if I started taking something. And that my brain wouldn't belong to me anymore. Worse yet, I was raised to believe that people who needed medication or had any kind of chemical imbalance were sick freaks that were discountable. That people like that were weak. Now, let's be perfectly clear, I didn't believe any of those things myself, but this is back when I was still talking to my family (for the most part) and the thought of their response to my taking meds was enough to close the issue. When my brother was 15 or so, he was diagnosed depressed and put on Prozac, then Zoloft, and my father acted like my brother was a pariah. Only when my brother went off his meds did their relationship start to mend. When, directly preceding my own diagnosis, my brother was diagnosed bipolar, my parents totally wigged. It was a good three months before I confessed to them that I was undergoing treatment for the same condition, but I refused to talk to them about it. If I told my mother I was having a bad day, she would suggest that my meds needed to be adjusted. If I told her I was feeling great, she acted like the issue had never existed. I swear, it was as if I was a dog who was learning to stop peeing on the floors...bad girl, good girl, here's a treat. Ridiculous. In her own way, I believe, my mother was trying to be supportive and even innocuous, but the best thing she could have done was to actually learn about my disorder.

I don't know what kind of relationship you have with your parents, but maybe (if they haven't done so) your parents could read about your anxiety...suggest that they read some of the same books that you are. They should make the same attempt to understand what your experiencing in the world that you are. I would guess that their questions about your condition are very similar to your own and that their behavior towards you is bred of ignorance. I don't know, I could be wrong since I don't have full back-story. I know that (in leu of my parents) having the support of a family (which is, of course, largely comprised of my friends) that I do makes a huge difference for me. It's what gets me out of bed when I can't do it on my own. I believe as well that if my parents were actually available in my life, really available, then the quality of this struggle would be, and have been, incredibly different.

Now, as far as meds go...again...I have friends who take (or have taken) them. One of my closest friends has found her way back to life through Zoloft. I mean to say that she was in the darkest hole I've ever witnessed and for her Zoloft was the light she needed to find her way out. I know that sounds dramatic, but it was. Another of my dearest friends takes Wellbutrin. He, like me, didn't realize that the emotional dips in his life were indicative of a long period of functional depression. Wellbutrin has worked remarkably well for him without side-effect...at least none that I know of. Unfortunately, the medication side of a clinical condition really is a total crap-shoot. I know that isn't very reassuring or inspiring, and I know that it will be even less so when I say that I do believe what a doctor prescribes often reflects what the pharmaceutical reps have encouraged them to sell, but...and this is an important but...if you have a doctor you can trust, that shouldn't be an issue. I know that my shrink, for instance, favors Depakote. She's had a great deal of success with it, so it's her typical go to drug when the condition and potential recovery of the patient seems to warrant that as a prudent choice. I know, however, that if the Depakote wasn't working for me she would try something else because my relief is more important than a pharmaceutical perk.

Something that stuck out for me in your post was that you're seeing a therapist, but it's your internist who's responsible for monitoring your meds. You may find better guidance with a psychiatrist to prescribe this sort of medication to you since that's their specialty. More importantly, a psychiatrist will meet with you monthly in order to make sure that the medication is doing what it's supposed to and not messing with your system in some unexpected way. Most (or many) shrinks don't do the actual therapy work, so you'd probably be right to stay with the woman you've formed a relationship with (assuming you're happy with her) so that you have someone to continue talking this out with (you know, who's better at it than me).

Now, this is totally silly, but when you were a kid did you read the Little Miss and Mister books? Do you remember Mr. Jelly? He's petrified of everything in the world around him and thinks that every leaf falling from a tree is the world coming to an end or a band of ruffians out to get him? Well, towards the end of the book he meets a tramp who tells him that the answer to overcoming his anxiety is to count to ten every time he feels like he doesn't have a handle on things. I know, I know, it's so inappropriate to bring up a children's book when you're going through something real and serious, but Sophie was "reading" this book to us the other day and I can't get out of my head how true that is. How taking a few seconds to reevaluate and calm down can make a difference.

I don't know if any of this is helpful. Other people have given you good advice to your post as well, from what I gathered...reading was a helpful, less isolating, step for me. Finding blogs written by people who knew what I was going through had an enormous effect on me. And then writing a blog...exposing myself and exploring myself through writing, that moves the process along too. Just remember to breathe when it all seems like way too much, because often it probably is and I know how suffocating that can be.

Best,
I.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Oh boy

It is 4pm. My boss, the woman who trained me, and I were out to lunch and drank lots of wine. I drank mine on a mostly empty stomach. Now, I'm a little less depressed, but would also like to go home and sleep.

I'd also like an exorcism performed to rid my body of the peanut m&m's I ate to sober me up.

Shit.

On an alternate note, my ex-husband did a very nice thing and had a friend of mine, an author with whom I haven't spoken in a while, sign his newest book for me and messengered it over. This makes me feel all the more cared for.

I know I'll figure this...whatever...out and all will be better eventually.

I appreciate the time any of you have taken in sticking through it with me .

A short list of unhappiness

Here is what I know:

My life is too good to be real.
I have an amazing child and an amazing partner.
I am surrounded by friends and people who love me.
I really enjoy my job.
I love to laugh.
I used to enjoy just about everything so much more than I do now.
Everything John did used to be endearing.
Nothing John did made me irritable.
I have the world’s greatest mother-in-law.
I can be really stubborn.
John’s taught me, just by being him, how to be less so.
Until a month ago, (give or take) I was doing really well.
What’s wrong with me is beyond my immediate control.
My sleep isn’t regular or deep anymore without a pill.
I like to talk a lot, but lately I have very little to say.
John is possibly one of the most patient men alive.
Sophie isn’t getting a whole mom right now.
This makes me sadder than I already am.

Here is what I don’t know:

Why this is happening.
If it will get better and stay better.
Whether it will come back and be worse the next time.
How to fix it.