Sunday, December 27, 2009

The down side of a swell

I like equilibrium. I like slow and steady. I like the same pace. All of which is why I don't "do well" at this time of year: too many God-damn swells. I feel like I'm on small boat in the north Atlantic.
Last weekend our family was traveling to and from Pittsburgh for the Packers/Steelers game on Sunday, the 20th. We left on Saturday, the last flight heading east to fly out of O'Hare. We got to the hotel late on Saturday.
Then the game time was changed to 4:15pm EST so we had a nice leisurely tailgate party sponsored by our tour group at a local brew-pub. It was a long game and we took the ferry across the river (don't ask me which one, but it was one of three {if you're familiar with the lay-out of Pittsburgh you'll find that hilarious, trust me.}) The Cleveland Show was on the TVs on the ferry so it was after that when we got back to the hotel. We did a little shopping on Monday morning, then started the trek back west from Pittsburgh, to O'Hare (where we spent a 4 hour lay-over {yes, it would've been faster to DRIVE from Chicago back to Appleton than stay at the airport, we realize that}) then we had to caravan back to Appleton from Green Bay once the plane landed. I don't fly well, so I was comatose for most of our time in the air both ways, but it all seemed like a very long trip. We were in bed by roughly 11:30pm Monday night. That was December 21st. That was a long 3 day swell.
Four days later it was Christmas. Four short days. That's not a lot of recovery time for me, especially when there were still a few Christmas gifts left to purchase.
Did I mention the ice storm on Wednesday the 23rd? As you know I'm currently unemployed so I was waiting for that weeks unemployment check in order to buy those last minute gifts. Usually my check comes on Wednesday, but not this week. This week it came on Thursday, Christmas Eve. So my husband and I sat in the house stressing about the ice that was layering the 14" of snow still on the ground from a couple of weeks ago and those God-damn Christmas presents. That's holiday spirit, isn't it? How did we get related to so many people? When did our Christmas budget get so out of control? When did we decide to go on vacation the last shopping weekend before the holiday? At the time it all sounded like a good idea.
So Christmas came just the same, which was good and wonderful and bright and all of those Christmas-carol adjectives it should be.
But now it's over. It's the down side of a 4 foot swell and I'm losing my footing just the same. Just for kicks I put on Mannheim Steamroller's Silent Night from their first Christmas CD and plugged in the digital picture frame just to see exactly how low I could make myself feel. I stopped after 5 photos or so because I realized I was just being stupid. Why fight the good 300mg of Effexor is trying to do on a daily basis? Oh what I wouldn't give for a little hypo-mania right about now. I've never experienced it, but I've heard good things about it. I get the crushing depression anyway, so you'd think I could get a little pay off for having to plow through that, but no. It's either even-Steven or skidding downhill for this chick; no upsie-daisies allowed. God-damn it.
This week is not going to be easy. It's going to be long and lonely and, quite frankly, sad. This time next week we'll likely be taking down the tree and packing away all of the indoor decorations to spend another moldy year in the basement. Then what happens? Maybe the boat evens out, the waters calm, and I feel just a little bit more like myself again.

Friday, December 25, 2009

The View of "the end"

So it's over. Christmas, I mean. The packages have been torn open, the gifts examined, the holiday ham eaten, the eggnog all gone. Oh sure, the stores will be open at 5 or 6am tomorrow morning waiting for all of those returned items that "just weren't quite right," and for the spending of all those gift cards bought when one just couldn't find that "quite right" gift.
This whole Christmas season had a different feel for me this year. That was likely due to fact that I haven't worked since the end of September so I saw the holidays coming down full bore the minute Halloween was over with. Holiday time starts November 1st and ends abruptly at 12:01am December 26th. The all-Christmas-music-all-the-time radio stations stop. Which makes no sense to me because the week between Christmas and New Years is really the week of the holidays so why put an end to the music just because Christmas is over? It's the holidays remember, not just a holiday. New Year's is coming and I think it's about time it got its due as a part of the official holiday season. I mean really, we don't celebrate any two holidays closer together on the calendar than that whole President's Day/Washington's Birthday/Lincoln's Birthday mess someone decided was a good idea in February. I beg of you: include New Years in your holiday wishes! Play Christmas carols into the new year! Let New Years shine in the glow of the leftovers of Christmas. This is the holiday week after all. This is the holiday week we waited for all fall during the school year. Christmas and New Years go together like apples and oranges, and Whoopi Goldberg and Barbara Walters from The View. Let's not let it all be overwith in one single day. Can't we hold on to the holidays for just seven days more and carry it through to New Years Day?
Can't we enjoy the holiday view for just a few more days? By mid-January, it will be like the whole thing never even happened anyway, so I say we dig in and hold onto these precious seven days as if our happiness depended on it.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

The View of my Christmas Tree

I love plugging in the Christmas tree lights each day and smelling the balsam that still emanates from it. It's ever so subtle now that it's been up for a couple of weeks, but if I am deliberate and sneak in close enough, there it is, wafting up from deep within the dark green needles.
Our lights are gold this year. I change the color of the lights every year because I like something different. This year's "theme" is gold and bronze, in honor of the packages of frankincense, gold, and mir that were carried by the Wise Men to the Christ child in the dessert so many years ago.
You can't really tell that our tree has a color theme though, even though there are plenty of brown, bronze, and gold ornaments. Our tree has become over-run with personal ornaments. Since Mark and I moved in together in 2004 we have gotten a "couples" or "family ornament" from "Our First Christmas Together 2004" to a house with 4 snowmen in front of it with each of our names hand-written on the snowman's stocking caps and 2009 on the chimney. We have many (well, 5 actually) variations of the "couples/family ornament." Plus, Peanut and Angel have each gotten their own individual ornaments since 1995 for Peanut and 1998 for Angel. That's a lot of dog-houses and little fish with names and years stenciled in. Those really throw off the "theme" of a tree, but I wouldn't have it any other way. I would take the craziest, most eclectic, all-animal-ornaments tree any year over a tree that was "perfect": matching, beautiful, elegant and cold and impersonal. My life is a bit chaotic, why shouldn't that be reflected in my tree? I think I try to force the "theme" to create some sense of control or normalcy or "behavior that people expect" from me. I watch White Christmas and want so badly to have the house decorated like a beautiful inn from Vermont every year, but it never is. I've got a bronze-ish tree with gold lights, angel hair over green lights and a collection of Santa Clauses on the entertainment center, and the Nativity scene in 3 snow globes surrounded by red beads on a glass shelf. You don't even want to hear about my husbands outside decorations of lights and wreaths and bells. It's not something I can picture Rose Mary Clooney singing around. But that's what DVDs are for: I can sit back in the golden glow of my eclectic tree and spend my time counting my blessings...or washing my hair with snow.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

The reason for the season?

So the debate has again been about what to wish people during this time of year, "Merry Christmas" or "Happy Holidays." People that use the justification that "Jesus is the reason for the season" are just plain wrong. He may be the reason for the Christmas season, but there's a lot going on during this time of the year, including Hanukkah, which, by the way, was the holiday that Jesus and his family practiced as they were Jewish. I am not familiar with the Islamic New Year which begins at sundown on December 17th (according to my pocket calendar)but that is certainly happening soon, as well as the beginning of Kwanzaa which (again according to my pocket calendar) begins on December 26th. And we can't forget the winter solstice that begins on December 21st. I am a big fan of the winter solstice because that means on December 22nd, the days are getting incrementally longer and there is more daylight than not.
Personally, I'm a "Happy Holidays" person. I don't want to offend anybody and I think this includes just about everyone who is celebrating something during this time of year. Just once I want to turn to someone who says to me, "Merry Christmas" and say, "I'm Jewish." I just REALLY want to see the look on the face of someone wearing a "Jesus is the reason for the season" pin and find out what they have to say to me. Because again, Jesus didn't celebrate Christmas.
Then there's the issue of what type of cards to send. I go for the vanilla "Happy Holidays" because I have Jewish friends I send cards to. I do the photo cards which this year included a separate picture of Peanut, Angel, and then me and Mark at a baseball game this July. It's my understanding that Jewish people do not as a rule send out Hanukkah cards to each other, but mostly get them from their gentile friends who send out cards to everyone. Have you ever seen a box of Hanukkah cards for sale at the Hallmark store? I thought not.
Don't even get me started on buying stamps from the USPS with all of the different holidays on them. I tried to buy some Hanukkah stamps at my local post office and the gentleman behind the counter told me that this particular post office doesn't order them because they don't sell well. Well how about that.
Whatever you want to wish someone at this time of year...

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

They did not live this day

A friend of mine's father died late last week and another friend of mine's father died earlier in the fall and it's got me thinking about loss. That and I'm taking Counseling for Grief and Loss this interim at school along with Peanut's declining health and it seems I can't get away from it. Within the last 2 weeks I've had two dreams that my grandmother died too and today the dream was so real I almost called one of my cousins to make sure that she's still among the living.
When I was younger and read obituaries in the paper it used to drive me crazy when there was wording like, "She went to be with her Heavenly father," or "He was accepted into the Lord's loving arms," and now I don't think those are odd things to write. In my young, logical head, I was screaming, "SHE DIED!" But as I've matured, and if the person who died believed that, now I think it's appropriate. Death is something we try to rationalize, and statements like these go against that human-grain and I like that. When we use phrases like, "you're strong; you'll get through it," we're basically telling the mourner not to grieve, but to rationally think their way out of their grief and that's wrong.
My first serious high school boyfriend died the weekend before Thanksgiving in 1991 and for a long time after that I was conscious of the fact that he did not live this day, he did not see the sunrise nor will he see the sunset. And then I started feeling grateful that I could've seen the sunrise this morning (had I been up early enough) and I will see the sunset tonight. And I pray to God everyday that I get the same opportunity tomorrow. But eventually we all run out of tomorrows. Everyone who knows you is going to die, including yourself. Why are we so afraid of it? Why won't we talk about it? Why do the grieving feel they need to isolate and why does society like it that they do? Because...everyone I know is going to die, including myself.
What are you going to do today that "they" could not?

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


A friend of mine reminded me of this poem a few weeks ago and I found it and decided to post it. Enjoy.

Small Asian children
released paint-filled balloons
last night to paint the sunset.

They bumped the bare canvas and burst.
Hues of apricot, blue, and yellow
Sweetly kissed the sky.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The View from Club Seats

Lambeau Field is sacred ground. It has been consecrated in the blood, sweat, and tears of great athletes since 1929. Only a handful of them have played in my lifetime. I always get choked up whenever I first see the field every time I walk into the seats for a game...the light green color of the grass, the Green Bay and Packers lovingly painted in the end zones, images of past championships up on the Jumbo-tron.
But today's game was different. For the first time I watched a Packers game inside while at Lambeau: yes, I had Club Seats.
Talk about a different game experience! First, we had a parking pass and actually got to park in the Lambeau lot. We had an exclusive entrance to the stadium where the security pat-downs were not nearly as invasive as they are in general seating. Then we had an exclusive elevator that whisked us up to the 6th floor (I had no idea there were that many floors at Lambeau) and we were escorted to our seats. We were in the third row in what looked like a really really big living room with stadium seats. There are a maximum of six rows so it's not like there's a bad seat where somewhere is suffering by not being able to watch the game. We had a menu and waitress that took our food & drink order and served it to us. Then we sat back in really comfortable, padded seats and looked through tempered glass at the game below. The radio transmission was piped in play-by-play. At first the crowd was a bit subdued, we couldn't hear anyone near us singing along with the National Anthem, but as the game got underway and the Packers started scoring, there was hooping and hollering just like we were outside...almost.
We couldn't hear the G Force drum corps. We couldn't hear the music before kick-off. We couldn't hear "Go Pack Go" pumping from the speakers and 69,000 people shouting along. We all eventually screamed and cheered, but I didn't feel like Donald Driver was pumping his fists for me. I didn't feel like the defensive line, arms in the air, waving toward the crowd to make some noise, were doing that for me. Because they couldn't hear me. Other fans, sitting in padded seats, with carpet under our feet could. Other fans, who were wearing only tee shirts because it was an ambient 74 degrees in the Club Seats could. (Granted, it was a balmy 54 degrees outside, but still.) But roughly 69,000 other fans could not hear me. I was not a part of that crowd, that mob, those fans.
If I had a Lambeau Field "bucket list", (and I don't, really) one of the items on it would be to watch a game from the Club Seats (or better yet the private suits where the food is brought into your own little living room)and I can now cross that off of my imaginary list.
The next thing on my Lambeau Bucket List? Being on the Jumbo-tron. What is yours?

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

A Thousand Paper Cranes

Stunning emerald eyes betray the passage of time we are toasting tonight… I saw you last, in the late summer haze, not even a whisper of autumn in the lazy trees, then.

This prison holds all of my memories. Shabbier now as the shadow of hope wanes above us. After twenty years, our Mother-Guardian moves to the young who desperately crave her.

The fireworks explode and the sparks fall to the earth around us. In spite of myself I weep like a child for the past.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Memory of You Haiku

Motherfucker. What
I thought, given. Unwrapped presents.
Only left: burnt remains.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

November 7

Conceived 25 Years After Michael Ryan
by Kristine Sack

It was 1970, and it was August.
The annual county fair had come again to Shawano, Wisconsin.
The Viet Cong wouldn't give in and the Americans shoved on.
My father picked up my mother at her parents' house,
Wearing a leather fringe vest and bell-bottom jeans,
Not picturing the grunts fighting in the jungle
Whom he would soon join.
Maybe after the music from the grandstand stopped
They drove to the lake and
Watched the stars from the backseat of his Dodge convertible,
While The Beatles sang from Abbey Road on the radio
And they both hummed along. My father,
his new degree hung on the den wall, was drafted,
So if he was frightened maybe she held him
Under the stars by the lake,
The chill in the air drawing them closer.
So when he kissed her, maybe she sensed his need
To leave something of himself behind.

Friday, November 6, 2009

November 6

On one hand anxiety makes me feel like I'm on fire; I can feel every hair sticking straight up and my body temperature goes through the roof. But it's so paralyzing at the same time; I just want to run into a deep, deep hole and stay there, hoping the world will just fall away before I feel that I'm forced into making one more decision. This is the existential angst that the great philosophers and therapists have talked about: one of the "life themes" that cause psychic dissonance is freedom and that's what this situation is about. I have the freedom to take responsibility and be an adult and write out my bills and call to explain why they are late, but I also have the freedom to crawl into bed for the entire weekend and do nothing about them. Not that I have a ton of bills to write out, but when I write out the check to my current employer for my insurance premiums, it's just one more reminder that I'm not well enough to be working there full time yet, that there are rumors that grow by the minute as to why I haven't been back yet and when I will be, rumors about what my job will be when I go back...things that are really no one's business except mine and the HR rep's. So why is it all so interesting to people that will not be affected by however this plays out? There a BIG difference between the need to know a piece of information to complete a job and the want to know a piece of information, just for the sake of feeling "in the loop." I feel really uncomfortable going to the grocery store near the office because I'm afraid I'm going to run into someone who will report back to HR that I was out of the house when I should be barricaded in, suffering with my "disability" that is keeping me out of work. I know that that is not logical or valid thinking, but after getting my hand slapped for being on Facebook in the first weeks of my short term disability, my impression is that their expectation is for me to be at home quietly rocking in a corner. And anyone that knows even a minimal amount about treating depression and anxiety has to know that social interaction is a good, therapeutic tool and that going to the grocery store is healthy because it means I'm facing my fears and working to get through them. But there in lies the rub: how much is known about depression and anxiety in the common Human Resource professional? This is a medical disease, not a moral disease and the judging is making my symptoms worse. Not to mention decreasing any happy memories I may have had from this employer. And that's the sad thing, because I have many happy memories from there and have enjoyed working with a lot of the staff. I thought this was the second best job I'd ever had, after working for St. Mary's in Milwaukee - that was the best job I've ever had. But who know how this will all end. I'm going to write out the bill and send an email as to why it's late. Needless to say some things have been on my mind lately - my dog's health for one thing. And I can explain some of that but there's no need to go into details. See, I do have more control over some of this than I originally let myself belief.

And the weekend is coming, the weather is supposed to be warmer and I'll get to spend some quality time with my husband.


Tuesday, November 3, 2009

November 3

So one of my assignments from my MD was to go out to places where I may run into co-workers during the day. I have this blinding anxiety about going to the grocery store because if someone I worked with saw me there, that would get reported right back to HR. At least it has before when "I was doing something I shouldn't have been doing while out on a medical leave." So you can understand my trepidation about going to Wal Mart during the lunchtime rush hour for some casual grocery shopping. But I did it!! I left my house right at noon and got into Wally World at about 12:10pm. I made my way down my list that my husband helped construct as he usually does all of the grocery shopping. I didn't get all "gussied up" but I wasn't wearing my pajamas either so I felt comfortable in my apparel selection for the afternoon. Just as I was walking down the main aisle to find a check-out, I heard my name behind me, just a whisper of, "Kristine." I turned around and there was one of my totally kick ass friends from work running in to get some soda for her desk at work. We hugged, she told me I looked good in that way where there are a few pauses in it, which I completely understood because as I said, I wasn't red-carpet material today. So we chatted for a few minutes and I briefly told her what my mission was and she said she was proud of me for getting out today, and we parted ways. She was in the "Less than 20 items" category and I definitely was not.

By the time I pulled into my garage I was exhausted. I had brought along all of my canvas tote bags so I didn't need to pack any of my groceries in those plastic non-bio-degradable horrors and I had about 50 pounds of groceries to pack on my back like a work mule, but I did that too.

I have my final group presentation tonight for my Theories class which I'm of course not really looking forward to, but I'll go and get it done and will have done excellent work.

By continuing to do the chores I don't really want to do, I find myself feeling just a little better for having done them. I still don't feel well enough to dress up in my red-carpet formal, but jeans and a sweater will suffice for most of my upcoming social engagements and I can handle that for now. The red-carpet days will come again, they always do. It's just not today.


Monday, November 2, 2009


It's been a few days since I've had the time and inclination to write anything. After dealing with all of Peanut's medical issues last week, I needed some time to just not think about that all the time and whenever I sit down to write, my feelings for Peanut is the first thing that is going to come spilling out.

This time change is goofing me up internally because I've been up since 6:30am CST and I haven't been up voluntarily that early in months! It's nice to have the house to myself though; it's quiet and I can sip some apple cider and curl up with a quilt and do my own thing for few hours until Peanut and Angel figure out that I'm not in the bed and come looking for me.

Given the fall weather that had blanketed us so heavily in October, I'm going to include an appropriate poem that was written 20 years ago on my first trip back to Appleton after spending my first three weeks as a student in Madison. I can name the other people mentioned in the poem, but won't do that just to keep the images vague. It's no fun if you're expecting a story but you get a movie and the cast of characters is filled in. I think this was published in the Foxcry literary magazine, but that could just be wishful thinking on my behalf. It's 20 years old, but I can see my current writing style buried within it.


Going Home in Autumn

We -
All four of us -
In his brother's tan 1979 Celica
with torn upholstery
and long strips of metal that blew off when driven too fast,
Rambled back toward Home
On that burnt yellow autumn afternoon.
Those colossal elms and oaks and their dying, adorned limbs
Arched over Highway 151, County E, State Highway 26.
And two of us:
Our insulated down jackets wrapped around our heads for make-shift pillows,
tried to sleep.
While the engine rattled the car
and tires rolled over cement cracked by seasons of frost.
We opened the windows to clear out the cigarette smoke
and our hair whipped our faces.
All I could hear was the speed of the tires
cutting through the singed leaves
and leaving behind white farm houses with beaten down corn fields
exposing worked earth...
Leaving them behind in the shadows of mid-day sun,
Because we were going Home.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Day 9

Peanut had abdominal x-rays today and there are no tumors or masses on his kidneys or liver. His liver is enlarged, but that can be a side-effect of his kidney disease, some over compensation on behalf of his liver working overtime. If he was a person he would be on dialysis immediately, but that's not something they do for dogs. It's a Freudian thing, but when I mean to type "dogs" I always type "gods" by mistake! That will tell you how highly I think of our canine companions...especially my Peanut Butter. His middle name is Butter - it's on his medical records and everything.

I am so exhausted. It's been back and forth to the vet at least twice a day since Monday and now that most of the diagnostic work is completed, I feel like I can exhale. I bet I sleep like a rock tonight. I prayed so hard for there not to be any tumors on his internal organs...big thanks to God for that being the case. I believe in prayer. And that faith without works is dead. To me, that means that I can have all the faith I want, but unless I do the footwork of what I can do, my faith isn't worth a hill of beans. I do what I can and leave the rest to God. I struggle so hard with that sometimes because I want to yank back that control and do it MY way damn it, most of the time. Well, some of the time.

Since I've been feeling so low emotionally lately, my faith has fizzled. It's not gone by any stretch of the imagination, but I used to pray twice a day, every day. Today was the first time I've prayed in at least 2 weeks. I feel like I'm the walker in that parable, "Footprints in the Sand." I feel like I'm walking alone when I know God is carrying me...but I don't feel like I'm in anyone's arms right now. I feel alone.

I saw my MD today and he's not up for switching my anti-depressant right now. He thinks I need some serious therapy time and I don't have a lot of faith in my current therapist. I am out of mental health benefits for the remainder of this calendar year so I've been seeing an intern (student.) And there are a lot of great interns out there, I know because I plan on being one in about a year, but this chick and I just don't mesh. I feel like I have to come up with things to say. There's no direction at all from her and I need someone way more involved. Don't get me wrong: I can talk about myself all day, but when I start to go into past issues or situations, she wants me to talk about what's going on here and now. I don't have a problem with that either, but she's too stuck to the theory of DBT and not everything fits into that one bag of tricks. I'm not going to go into describing the theory of DBT because I wrote a 7 page paper on it recently for my Theories class and I'm kind of sick of it. I should get that posted somewhere on my blog. I need to look into how to do that because I have some poetry that I want to post as well. Anyway, I have an appointment with this therapist intern tomorrow. My MD sent her a note today giving her some direction on what to work on with me and one of them is marital counseling with my husband (which neither of us have any issue with.) I know she doesn't do couples therapy so I'm hoping to get a referral out. If not, I need to be honest with her and let her know it's just not working. We don't even fill an entire 50 minute session because SHE WON'T SAY ANYTHING. I'm glad I got that out. :-)

So I plan on watching the two episodes of The Simpson's "Treehouse of Horror" V and VI tonight from 6-7pm. Then I plan on having some pleasant dreams for once. Right after I pray.


Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Day 8

Not too much has been going on today, which is actually a nice change of pace.

Peanut's got to have some x-rays tomorrow of his abdomen and they're going to teach me how to administer the sub-q fluids myself which I have no problem with. I just stick the needle in the back of neck and let it drip at full bore. It's in the same spot where they give him his shots. I'm just praying that there's no masses or tumors on the films tomorrow. Ugh.

Class went well tonight. We actually got out an hour early due to illness - there were supposed to be three presentations by students and only two groups actually presented. The third group had someone out sick so they will have to present on the last night of class which is only two weeks away. I got a perfect score on my autobiography. That's the odd thing about counseling programs, before they ready us to counsel others, they make us expose all of our secrets so we're aware of them. There's no point going to see a counselor if the counselor is more in need of therapy than the client.

I made some excellent meatballs from scratch for dinner tonight which my husband really liked. I also scrubbed the bathroom raw. Man, how can two individuals create such a mess? It's just the two of us and that bathroom was gross. And it's not like I don't clean it regularly, but this was super-duper-extra cleaning in preparation for Thanksgiving when my mother will be here. Who knew a bathroom could get so dusty?? I had to use Windex on the tops of candles I have in there for decoration. I'm coming to think that decoration of any kind in the bathroom is just a waste because everything gets so dusty!

I have an unexpected hour of free time tonight and if you do too...


Monday, October 26, 2009

Day 7

Peanut's appointment at the vet this morning didn't go terribly, but the news isn't exactly uplifting either. His kidneys are failing pretty severely. His Creatinine is 3.3 and normal limits are .5-1.8, his BUN is 103 and normal limits are 7-27, and his Alk Phos is 873 and normal limits are 23-212. The first two are kidney functions and the last one is a general liver function. They wanted to put him on doggy-ibuprofen and medicine for doggy-Alzheimer's but not with his kidneys and liver in such bad shape. His thyroid has been out of whack for a couple of years and he's been on doggy-Synthroid since, and the thyroid test results will be back tomorrow. If that's abnormal that may explain the liver function being high, but I doubt it. His thyroid's been pretty well controlled with the doggy-Synthroid. I think his liver is just aging. I think (actually, I know) that he is aging and it breaks my heart to watch. It will be 14 years this weekend before Thanksgiving that I brought him home as a baby 10 week old puppy. He was so funny on the ride up to Appleton from Milwaukee: he sat all curled up in the backseat of my Nissan Sentra, minding his own business, not really sure what to think of me yet. Then on the way back to Milwaukee on Sunday he crawled from the backseat onto my lap and made himself to home, and that was that. He literally crawled his way into my heart and has been there solidly for 14 years. Some people don't understand my devotion to Peanut, but in my mind he's the only child I'll ever have. If he were a human he would have started 9th grade this fall: that puts it into perspective for a lot of people instead of saying, "Well, he's 14 years old." The vet is confident we're talking about a matter of weeks or months in terms of his quality of life and his life expectancy. She gave me some signs to look for including him not being interested in his food, vomiting, and pulling away from the family. Somehow I always thought that I'd know...I'd just intrinsically know when it was time...that he'd look into my eyes and would say to me, "Mommas, it's time." That hasn't happened yet, but now I have to be on the look-out and ever vigilant for those signs. I still think he'll tell me in his own way. Until then, I'll just love him the best that I can.

If there's a dog in your life...


Sunday, October 25, 2009

Day 6

A Packers win is always a good thing! And on top of that, a Vikings loss is even better!! I'm trying to get Mark to teach me how the announcers know when a defense is "showing the blitz" and he sort of mumbled something about "the receiver in motion...if they let him go...there's gonna be a blitz," and I said, "That's it?!?" and that was pretty much the end of the conversation. Honest to God, I don't think he really knows. He says there are a lot of ways to tell and that it's complicated, but I have my doubts. He also said that when the entire defense is on the line of scrimmage it's going to be a blitz - well, duh, I could have told him that! The entire defense is always lined up on the line of scrimmage...aren't they? We haven't been to a Packers game since the preseason game against the Buffalo Bills and I would like to go to at least one more home game this season. This doesn't take into account the Packers/Steelers game we are attending on December 20 in Pittsburgh. I'm a little scared of going to that game to tell you the truth. I've heard not-so-kind things about Steelers fans. I don't want to get hurt just for wearing my HUGE Packers parka and floppy green and gold knit hat, man. Just let me out alive and I'll be happy. Last October (2008) we went to the Packers/Seahawks game in Seattle and I got harassed while in line for a soda. And the Packers won! Some drunk guy slapped my shoulder and started talking crap about the Packers and Aaron Rodgers. Hasselbeck was hurt at this time and I asked him, "Who's your next quarterback after this loser?" and he didn't take it very well. Well, actually he did because he left me alone after that. My shoulder hurt for the rest of the weekend though.

I don't like going to Packers game in the dead of winter. Call me a wussy, I don't care. I have no desire to sit on a metal bench with my feet on solid concrete, in the snow, when the ambient temperature is negative 4 degrees. My husband and I went to the Packers/Lions game last season in December and honest to God the temperature at kick off was 4 degrees above zero. We stayed for the entire game, but that was the only time I'd have happily walked out of the stadium at half time. We won, the Lions had an 0-16 season and we all knew that outcome at half time.

And to make today's victory even sweeter the Vik-queens lost! Gotta love those Favre interceptions we had to deal with for 16 seasons! The whole "Brett Favre playing for the Vikings" thing made me sick at the beginning of the season. But, after today's loss, my hunch is he will complain this week that he's hurt or sore and won't be there for practices. Then, with hope, the adrenaline of next week's game will wear off quickly and he'll stink up the place. It's going to take many years of actual retirement (when one no longer works in his/her given field in case he's not familiar with that term) before the sting of this move will deaden in Packer Country and the team will be able to retire his number with a nice ceremony and loving fan-fare. And that is due him, don't get me wrong. We would have been in dire straits without him in the '90s and for most of this decade, but a move to a divisional rival is just too much to take. And then he didn't want to partake in preseason practice so he signs on at the last possible minute. Not cool, not professional, not worthy of the legacy player he is. The Packers and their fans will move on, we already have for the most part, but he has to live with himself and if he can skate around protocol and still look at himself in the mirror at the end of a day...well, let's just say that's a skill most of us lack.

There's a lot of football left this season! Let's grill some brats, have some potato salad and...


Saturday, October 24, 2009

Day 5

I just started reading the cover story of November's issue of O Magazine and I'm really liking it. It's about becoming the person you were meant to be. That's a heavy question, but it doesn't really have to be. We've been talking about this a lot in my Career Counseling & Development class and this idea that each of our lives has an intrinsic meaning, bestowed upon us by a power greater than ourselves or from something deep within us, is very Logotherapy, Viktor Frankl, based. Frankl is one of the great theorists of psychotherapy and if you ever want to read an inspirational story, I highly recommend his "Man's Search for Meaning" which chronicles his life in a German World War II concentration camp and how he finds his meaning through suffering...that there is meaning in suffering. That's an idea I've latched onto lately, given the current mental health crap I'm working through.

So one of the writers in this issues says, when trying to direct people to finding their authentic selves, "You have to make mistakes to find out who you aren't. You take the action, and the insight follows: You don't think yourself into becoming yourself." Truer words were never spoken...or written, rather. I may not know who exactly I want to be, but I for damn sure have some ideas of who I don't want to be. I don't want to have a job where I have to lie. I lie a lot at work: to owners, customers, suppliers, whomever is asking a question of me that I have been instructed not to honestly answer. Ever work in customer service? Then you've lied too. It's sort of a game because the people I talk to know I'm going to lie to them and they laugh it off as an answer they expected to hear. We all know the rules and for the most part we all follow them; it's called "being polite." Maybe that's it? I'm sick of being polite? Not in the "if you don't have anything good to say, keep your mouth shut," sense (I'm actually a big believer in that phrase), but in ALL the phoniness. I'm sick of having to talk to people I don't like. I'm not just talking about the people on the phone at work, but some of the people I work with, people I know socially, people I don't spend a lot of time with and don't know well. Why all the fakeness? Is that what gets passed along as "polite society"? I can't answer that question because part of me thinks it does. If I go through a fast-food drive through I always say back to the employee that hands me my bag of saturated fat, "You too," when he/she says to me, "Have a nice day!" I don't think that's phony; they wished me a pleasantry and I respond in kind: that's the type of person I want to be and, I guess, am becoming if I'm already saying it. I'm so looking forward to graduating from graduate school because when I'm a mental health counselor it would be unethical for me to lie at work, at least with clients. The truth doesn't have to be brutal and problem-solving doesn't have to be painful and I believe that we carry our own answers around inside of us, sometimes we just need assistance in pulling them out into the open. That's honesty, that's not phony.

On a completely different topic, things are getting better here on my home front. As I said in an earlier post, we seem to be better together on the weekends, when my husband doesn't have to deal with work. We argued a bit this afternoon about who is to blame for wrapping this blanket of misery around our house; he thinking it was entirely me and me thinking he has a large part in it too. Logically I think we both know we both play a role, but blame is so much easier, isn't it? So we sort of got over that without any resolution, and now we can at least acknowledge the fact that we're not really happy as a couple at the moment. We can move on from here. This is just one moment, not my entire life...but sometimes moments can be very very long, can't they? We'll talk more tonight or tomorrow, that's our way. We've become accustomed to these patterns in each other, knowing in the end it will all come out and to some resolution. It always has before and will this time too. If there's one thing I have complete confidence in it's our love and our relationship. It's not always glamorous or perfect or even easy, but it's real and something that we are both committed to. I love him entirely and he loves me completely, so we're a good match that way.

It's Saturday evening and it's time for me to watch my favorite TV program, "As Time Goes By" on PBS. Have an authentic evening.


Friday, October 23, 2009

Day 4

I had a great lunch today with an old friend I've known for over 20 years and a friend of hers from their work. It's was great to be laughing again, especially because the weather is so lousy today. The high was 45 degrees and it rained. At least it didn't snow - it did about 45 minutes north of here and it's sticking. This fall has just been horrible - it has rained on over 1/2 of the days in October and we were over 60 degrees just once I believe. What kind of fall was that? September was unusually warm and it's just been downhill since then. And November is the cloudiest month in WI, closely followed by February. I'm not looking forward to it. Although my mom wants to go shopping for some winter boots and snowpants for our trip to Pittsburgh in December so maybe I should take her up on that sooner rather than later.

Peanut's health is steadily declining. I shouldn't say it's his health: he doesn't seem to be in any pain, however he sleeps the majority of the day and will only eat his canned food and won't eat his hard dry kibble. It doesn't sound that appetizing to me either as I write that. And it doesn't really smell all that great either, so I don't blame him on that one. My husband keeps talking about his quality of life and I am well aware that it is the biggest factor in all of this. I called the vet today and set up an appointment for Monday morning just for them to take a look-see and run some blood work. I want to see how his kidney functions are doing because he's been drinking an insane amount of water this past week too and he's currently got some small issues there. His BUN was elevated at his annual physical in September but his Creatinine was fine and the Creat. is the more concerning of the two. My 9 years in human healthcare has proven to be very valuable when dealing with the health of my four-legged babies. Or, BWTs as I like to call them: Babies With Tails. The vet tech that I spoke with was incredibly reassuring. He's not on any pain meds right now and she said that is certainly an option. I'm a big believer in the therapeutic value of analgesics, trust me. I was very teary - ok, I was balling - this morning, but she helped put some things in persective. So on Monday's appointment I'm not anticipating good news, but I'm not thinking it's going to be over and done with right at that moment either. My guess is we'll now be moving into hospice stage and I'm alright with that. He's been alive for 14 years and 2 months...I was hoping to get through the holidays because it will be 14 years on the weekend before Thanksgiving that I brought him home with me from that farm in a very small WI town and I fell immediately in love with him, and he with me. I've been his mommas ever since. In human years he's 98 years old and that's a frickin' full life man, you can't argue that. And he's had a good life: he has loved and been loved and that's the litmus test for me. Ooh, I'm getting a little teary again. :-)

I'm going to have a smoke. Enjoy.

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Day 3

I just got home from class and almost forgot to log in today...but I have my reader to consider so I will make an entry today. Yes, you read that correctly: I said "reader."

My first class of the semester ended tonight and I'm currently pulling a 94 so I'm feeling very confident about the whole thing. I turned in my final project and I think the instructor felt a personal connection to it, so I'm sure I'll do well. It's nice to be that confident because in my on-line Career Counseling & Development class I have no friggin' idea where I stand grade wise. I've turned in 2 assignments that haven't been graded yet and that drives me a little crazy. If I have to have it done on a certain date, the least I would expect is a quick turn-around on the grading process. That's all I ask, really.

Oprah had a good show today. Although some vegan chef made some creamed soup that looked a lot like toddler vomit if you ask me. The whole group dance thing with Black Eyed Peas was pretty cool though.

My husband is being a total and complete dick. I can't put it in any other words. He comes home from work in a lousy mood and sulks until I leave for class. Now that one of my classes is completed, we'll be staring at the TV in the same room 6 nights out of the week instead of the usual 5. It's been this way for so long, I wonder where we start. It's so stupid because when he wants sex, then he'll come home in a chipper mood and actually talk to me. It's not abusive in any way, but this sort of smacks of my previous marriage and that scares me because that was abusive and horrible and ugly. I thought about writing him a note tonight because we often do that for each other since he leaves for work at 5am, but I don't want to lay all of this on him right before he goes to work at a job he hates for 8 hours. I tend to express myself better in writing though, so maybe I'll write the note while he's at work tomorrow and give it to him when he gets home. I know he's got a late meeting tomorrow and will come home in a particularly glum mood. I love him and I know he loves me...we just don't like each other a whole lot sometimes. Isn't that the way with most relationships? All except for the relationship I have with Peanut. The best part of his day is whatever part I spend with him and that's amazing.

Get some sleep. Enjoy.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Day 2

My computer was out of commission yesterday and I feel completely out of touch and somehow "behind" in the world. How dependent am I on technology? It fills my free-time because yesterday I actually did the dishes out of sheer boredom. Then of course there's the school work that I'm a day behind on.

I'm taking an on-line class for the first time ever. It's Career Counseling & Development which doesn't interest me a whole lot in terms of my future career, but I understand that there's a lot of career development questions on the National Counselor's Exam and it's a required course for graduation. One of the requirements for the on-line class is that I log in and comment on other students' posts at least 3 times a week which is odd to me since I've never met any of these people face-to-face. I feel like a voyeur a lot of the time...but that's the whole idea of Facebook and blogging, isn't it?

Maybe it was due to the lack of access to technology yesterday, but regardless, my anxiety was out of control. It felt like my hair was on fire. I didn't actually have enough energy to start cleaning the basement, but my mind was spinning for a good hour. Once I latch on to a thought, I can't let it go. I know there are skills from various therapeutic theories that I could practice, but when my world is turning off its axis I can't seem to pull myself out of that in order to do a Thought Record, though challenge, or whatever other skill I could be practicing. I guess that's really where the rubber meets the road in terms of deciding what I want to do: Do I want to watch myself go crazy or do I want to stop it and try something else? Obviously today is a better day because yesterday, in the midst of the storm, I couldn't see any options. It feels incredibly restricting and feels like I don't have any options. Then I have a better day like today and I feel frustrated for not making a better choice yesterday! It's a never ending circle of helplessness and despair.

But today's a better day. Enjoy.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Today's the first day!

Hello -

I've been thinking about starting a blog for awhile now. I'm in graduate school, married, struggling with a few medical issues, and trying to figure out the meaning of life. Well, not the actual meaning, but I'm trying to prioritize what I want to be doing right now and what I need to be doing right now. I'm off of work on short term disability and really don't want to go back. That's not entirely my choice; my MD has a bigger say than I do. I'm dealing with chronic depression: I'm not suicidal or anything, but it just seems that no matter what I do, I feel "gray." Nothing really has any color anymore and hasn't for some time. I've been off of work since 07-28-09 and was doing better in August when I was going to a local hospital for daily outpatient therapy and skill building, etc. It's a great program but now that I've got all of this unstructured time, I'm slipping. I was getting up at 8am to be at the hospital by 9:30am and today I got up at 9:30am. I'm compliant with all of my medications and get tasks done around the house (including all of the homework I have to complete) but I don't feel any "umph." Sometimes I feel that if I just slipped away no one would notice. Of course I know my family and friends would notice - not to mention my dog Peanut whom I adore and who adores me right back. (Check out his photo on my blog site.) PMS doesn't help matters any. I would kill for a good referral for a hysterectomy. I don't have any kids and have never wanted any so take my uterus please!! My husband doesn't believe me when I tell him any OBGYN worth his/her reputation won't take out perfectly good organs; he thinks because we have insurance and this is what I want, the doctor should do it. He's naive that way.

So today is installment one. Since I have the time, I might as well put my thoughts down in cyber space for all of humankind to read.