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Archive for June, 2009

rev books

Summer isn’t summer without books, right? I can’t think of anything more delicious than coming in from the beach, cranking up the fan and crawling under cool sheets for a late afternoon read. I get all goose-bumpy just thinking about it (tip: if your afternoon can accomodate it – add a cold beer to your bedside table. You can thank me later).

Only this year, I am embarrassed to say, did I start going to this place called The Library. I couldn’t believe it. Thousands of books I could just try out and if I didn’t like them, take them back. What a concept. As my neighbor says, the library: “It’s a total scam”.

At my last visit I picked up the following:

Stephen King On Writing: I bought this one because I figured I’d want it around. I had this weird thing where, for two days I kept hearing people talk about this book. I figured it was a sign. I started reading it in the car on the way home (not while I was driving, of course, but sitting in the car after a Starbucks run). I tore through it. I loved it even more than Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird which I didn’t think was possible.

The Memory of Running: Alias Mother suggested this one for me last January. I just got to it recently and finished it last night. Narrated very simply by the main character, it is a wonderful story about beginnings and endings, mental illness, love and second chances. It’s also a read that is both darkly funny and achingly sad at the same time. Make sure you can handle that.

Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name: I’ve picked this up and the bookstore like five times and put it back. Now I can try it for freeeeee. Anyone who has read it – please let me know if you liked it.

To Kill a Mockingbird: I’ve never read this and I can’t blame anyone but myself – or the sub-optimal school system from which I graduated. I am looking forward to it. Interestingly, Alias Mother just listed it in her post on top five books. For me, that’s all it takes.

Amy and Isabelle: See above Let the Nothern Lights Erase Your Name.

We Need to Talk about Kevin: I’m not sure if I can handle the topic, but I just I just read The Post Birthday World” and I loved, LOVED Lionel Shriver. I would seriously re-read her sentences several times because I couldn’t believe how beautifully she strung her words together. So I’m going to give this one a try.

If anyone has any other must-reads, please suggest. I plan on spending a lot of summertime under the covers.

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I had this post in mind. I was going to write about the contents of my refrigerator and how I’m always art-directing –like moving the melon to the front, cream cheese to the back, stacking yogurt with the labels all facing out. It’s a sickness, I know, but it gives me such satisfaction.

But since I was out of the house for two whole childless hours, I decided to go to the Barnes and Noble cafe and write in this old spiral notebook I carry around for just such an occasion (note: no mega cookie for me this time, just iced-tea as I’ve been cutting back since the dermatologist called me fat).

Flipping through the notebook to find a clean page, I skimmed a couple of old entries from this winter. Even though it was me who wrote everything, I was startled by what I read. Page after page of rambling about sleep and crying and falling into the big dark hole- example:

“I spent most of Christmas Eve lying in bed”.

“I’ve been crying again, several times a day, and I want to sleep away every minute”

“Nothing helps but sleeping”

“When will this nightmare end? I can’t get out of this hole I’m in.”

I know I tend to be dramatic, but I was still stunned. It was like reading someone else’s journal. Only looking back do I realize how bad it was.

I’ve had a little experience with the “big D” before. Pregnant with my second daughter, I spent a lot of time sleeping and crying. After she was born, I tried a low dose of medication. It was just enough to get me back on my feet. Life felt good, I was good (good being relative and all). Two years later I weaned off the drugs and did a triathlon. Tah-dah! I’m healthy see? Completely cured!

Then three years later, I slipped again, only this time the hole was deeper, darker, colder and more painful. Being aware, I did what I could: I saw a therapist (an amazing, kind, insightful therapist), I made daily lists of things I was grateful for, I exercised, I took Omega-3’s and extra vitamin D. I prayed. I meditated. Yet I still couldn’t shake the devastation I felt every single, overwhelming day.

I was pretty adamant that I didn’t want medication. I thought antidepressants were too omnipresent, too over-prescribed, too cliché, and too dangerous. But here’s the thing: months went by and I just couldn’t get upright. My brain was so out-of-balance, so stuck, so defeated. No matter how much I tried or did, I was still sitting on my ass, in the hole, face in hands, sobbing.

Finally, after months of this (plus some stern phone calls from my friends), I found a good doctor who got me back on meds. Very, very slowly things came back into focus. The hole got a little smaller, brighter and warmer. Then one day, without even being aware of it, I just stepped out. No tah-dah! More like: whew.

I feel normal now. I can breathe, I can say “so what?” and really mean it. Little things please me again: the sound of a sprinkler, smoked gouda, a cold Diet Coke. If I drop a glass on the floor, I sweep it up. I don’t sit in the glass and cry about how the world sucks and what a failure I am.

It’s hard for me to see those pages. It’s even harder for me to write this post, knowing the jig is up, OMG people will know. Plus it’s a long post (are you still with me?). Why write it?

I write it because if you have any friends or family who seem stuck in the cold, dark torture chamber of their own powerful brain, help them get help.

Do not tell them useless, merry-sunshine crap about just “being positive”, do not tell them they “think too much”, do not tell them they have “so much to be grateful for” and do not, DO NOT, tell them “to stop feeling sorry for themselves.” Depression is not a self-indulgent, chosen state-of-mind. No one would choose to be so sad, so desperate, so negative, and so guilt-ridden for one second. No one.

Instead, tell them you’re here for them. Tell them not to feel embarrassed. You don’t think they’re weak or crazy or a lazy sack-of-bones. Tell them they can feel better – a lot better. Tell them it’s possible that one day they’ll look back on this and not believe they waited so long to get help.

If they can’t get a recommendation for a therapist through their own doctor (note: if they think they need might medication, get a shrink who knows how to prescribe meds – OB/Gyn’s should not be prescribing psychotropic drugs), tell them to Google psychiatrists in their area. Often one can find a website that rates them. Pay attention to those ratings. Some shrinks are real assholes. Some, like mine, are awesome.

I’m not advocating drugs in all cases. Personally, I still find them omnipresent, over-prescribed, cliché and when not given correctly – dangerous. But when a person has diabetes, we don’t tell them to just “focus on the positive” and their insulin will re-balance. We don’t say, “buck-up, you think about your thyroid too much.” In my case, having exhausted all other options, it is clear to me – my noggin? Sometimes she not work so good.

But then sometimes, she work really, really good.

Okay, I think I’ve made my point. Plus I’ve outed myself and though I am quick to say we need to abolish the stigma, I need to hit “publish” before I lose my nerve.

Check in later for a riveting post on my refrigerator.

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Check out my Clematis. It just started blooming the other day.

Clematis Vine

I’m from the midwest so I say “Clem-aaaatis.”

Martha Stewart, on the other hand, says “Klehhhm – atis.”

But my friend’s neighbor once said to her (true story), “Did you see my Clitoris out on my mailbox? Isn’t it beautiful?”

I don’t know about hers – never saw it. But my Clematis is really quite something.

clematis

P.S. Alternate titles I considered for this post: “Growing your Own G-spot” and “Why the Postman Really Rings Twice”. Other suggestions are welcome.

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c with backpackFriday was my youngest’s last day of kindergarten. I was in such a hurry with thank-you cards to write, snacks to pack, checks to fill out and forms to drop off, that I didn’t take a minute, even a second, to grasp the enormity of what this means.

I’ve been waiting nine years for this. To get my time back, my life back. Next year we enter a new phase. And like it or not, this exhausting one has come to an end.

She never asked me to stay home. I chose it. I wanted it. But it wasn’t easy, and I wasn’t good at it. Sure, we had moments: we snuggled, we read books, we went to Target, got juice and sat in the cafe.

But too often I left her alone with the television, I let her play on the computer so I could talk on the phone. I ordered in friends so I wouldn’t have to play with her. I melted cheese over taco chips and called it “lunch.”

I wish I had been more attentive. I wish I hadn’t secretly been bored, tired, lonely, isolated and sometimes resentful. I didn’t feel that way all the time, but certainly enough to push the boundaries of the “I’m only human” excuse. But despite it all, despite coming verrrrry close to the edge, I’m going to miss this phase.

I’ll miss our walks to school. Just the two of us. No matter how much chaos happened over lost shoes, warm coats and clean teeth, once we stepped out on the driveway, things changed. The walk centered us. She seemed so little on those walks, I’d watch her ponytail bounce and I’d shiver with gratitude.

She’d reach for my hand — her little fingers skimming my palm and curling around my fingers. She wasn’t even aware she’d done it. But I was, every time. She needs me, she loves me, she wants me, she forgives me: I could feel it all in that little reach.

Next year she’ll walk to school with her hero, her big sister. She is elated over this, and I suspect I will be too. I hope I will be too.

Next year: Ahhhh yes or oh noooo?

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