fuck you too, universe.

L didn’t get the job.

The dean called today to tell her this. The dean also told her that she could “offer no critical feedback” because L was amazing, and the dean could see her at the school and thought she was fantastic. But the president wanted someone with more “full time experience building programs.” Never mind that you can’t get full time experience until someone gives you a full time job, and that L has done a stellar job building a program as a fucking adjunct. It’s maybe even more heartwrenching when what she felt – that this was a great school and a good fit – was all true.

The news is devastating for us. We really really thought this was going to happen. There are so many reasons why this happening would have been so good for us. Selling our house and moving out of one of the most expensive housing markets in the country would have given us some cash to pay off debts, I wouldn’t be sharing geographical space with my mom which would really improve my relationship with her, L would have a job where she’s paid what she’s worth and is treated with respect.

But, it didn’t happen. So, now what? We stay here. L keeps applying for jobs and keeps her head down while the full time guy at the school where she teaches now is an asshole. I pray the asshole disappears or otherwise ceases to exist. We keep treading the same water and hoping and praying for something to change.

***

Before 5pm and the phone call that left the house in weepy anger, things here were going ok. So, I guess they will be going ok again soon enough.

Tomorrow I head back to work. It’s been a really nice week and a half of recovery, a lot of time hanging out and not doing a lot with my family. (L also had the week off as it’s the break between spring semester and summer session) I took a nap every day with Ansel, and between that and his newfound sleeping through the night (!) I think I’m chipping away at the massive sleep debt I accrued over the last 15 months. I’m still in a fair amount of pain and using vicodin to manage it, which isn’t ideal for returning to work, but hopefully I can taper off gradually over the next little while. Tomorrow is my first post op appointment and I’m dying to have the partial plaster cast/ace bandage/cotton batting bandages off because I fee like I’ve been wearing the same sock for a week and a half and I’m so grossed out. I’m also curious to see where all the incisions are, because I was already all bandaged up when I woke up and I can only guess based on pain and what I recall from my pre op conversations.

The Happy Sleeper training is going just splendidly. We now give Ansel a bath, put him in PJs, I nurse and sing songs, then we read two books and put him in his crib and he lays down and goes to sleep. Sometimes he cries for a minute, but mostly he jabbers to himself and then quiets down completely before the first 5 minutes are up. In fact, he’s done this since night #2. He’s also slept through, from 7:30pm-7:30am, most nights. He’s woken twice around 2am and chattered or whined for a bit before settling himself back to sleep, and last night he did end up crying and L had to go in and say the phrase to him. He apparently saw her and then threw himself face first into the mattress and then went back to sleep.

I feel 100% awesome about our decision. And, I am glad we did it when we did. Up until last week, our system was working. It stopped working, so we made a change. And now that’s working. I think this is the best response to most situations, and really underscores for me that there is something between righteous adhearence to one philosophy or another, and that is being responsive and doing what’s best for your own family. Fuck yeah.

I have a post about “parenting in public” that I want to finish and share, but tonight I have too many fucking feelings for that.

I’m writing this on my phone,  from the couch,  where I’m watching my zillionth episode of “Bones” while hopped up on vico.din. Which is to say, forgive my typos, I have a lot of excuses.

Surgery went well,  according to my doctor.  They did all the things they expected to,  and also lengthened my Achilles which was up in the air until they saw it in the scope.  Perhaps most telling,  my first thought as I stated to emerge from anesthesia,  “I want to go back to sleep.”

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Recovery will be the harder part,  which I anticipated.  I’m in possession of my knee scooter now (complete with hello kitty basket to help me transport my medication! Thanks La!) and can get around ok, but it’s still a huge change from what I’m used to and I’m having to take a lot more time to do the usual things and reconfigure how I do many of them to accommodate the scooter. And I do a lot of hopping around.  Between this and the pain pills,  I’m generally exhausted from just getting myself up and ready.

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It’s been tough on my ego to have L do everything for me,  but I’m trying to see it as a spiritual practice.  And L has been AMAZING as my caretaker and A’s primary parent.  I’m so grateful for her on all of this.  All this AND she’s a super babe.  Y’all,  I hit the jackpot.

We knew we were going to be night weaning Ansel because of my lack of mobility,  but after Monday night it became clear we needed to do something more.  That night,  La went in every time A cried and she rocked him back to sleep,  essentially what I’d been doing,  minus the nursing.  But unlike for me,  he would wake up and fuss or cry anytime she put him down.  It took a long,  long time to get him settled and she was exhausted.  We decided then,  at 2am,  to look into the Happy Sleeper and consider trying that to help him sleep.

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The great thing about being stuck on the couch is that you can easily commit to reading an entire book in a morning,  and that’s what I did.  L picked up The Happy Sleeper from the library,  I read it and told her about it,  and we decided to try it out.  So many of you had good success,  and it seemed like a nice medium between what we had been doing (which wasn’t working anymore) and full on cry it out,  which wasn’t where we wanted to go.

Tuesday night,  it took him an hour of “sleep waves” to fall asleep,  but once he did,  he stayed asleep until 230am. On a typical night,  he would have woken at least once,  sometimes twice in that time period.  He fussed for an hour before he started full on crying at 330am. Because the book doesn’t recommend cold turkey night weaning with the method,  we decided that night to go in at 330am when he woke and nurse him.  But given what a production it had to be,  with me,  Laurie, and the scooter plus lights and whispering,  I think it did more harm than good.  We decided to not do anymore night nursing,  even though it wasn’t recommended. After the feed,  it took 3 sleep waves before he fell back asleep and stayed asleep until 8am. Unheard of!
Last night,  Laurie had a drag show,  so a friend came over to keep me company and help me with A. Because of this the routine got a little off,  but once I put him down,  he cried for only 2 of the 5 minutes,  then whined a but and went quiet by 7 minutes past.  He didn’t make any noise again until around 1030pm when he fussed a bit,  then needed 2 additional “waves” to settle,  before sleeping all. Night.  Long.  He came to bed at 6am and nursed and snuggled,  but otherwise was asleep in his bed!

Tonight he went down again before the 5 minutes was up and so far (knock wood) hasn’t stirred.  I’m feeling very confident that this was the right choice at the right time.  I know we likely still have some more pieces to work through,  but it also feels clear that this is working well for us,  and I’m excited for all of us to get more sleep!

L got an email from the school on Monday,  letting her know they had moved the other candidate’s interview back a day,  so she likely wouldn’t hear about a decision until early next week.  Today,  one of her references let her know she’d been contacted! We are feeling really hopeful,  but this will be the longest long weekend ever,  I know!

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tick tock

It’s been a long week.

On Tuesday, L left for Washington state to have an extensive day long interview at the school in Olympia. Usually, Tuesday is my work from home day, and usually, I have a lot of flexibility with my schedule. But this week was not usual. Instead of my normal flexy non profit working conditions, I was slated to attend a two day training through the government office that provides the big grant I manage. 99% of the other attendees traveled from elsewhere to attend the training, which means the trainer felt fine with having it be a 8am-6pm day at a hotel far, far away cause – why not? everyone was just gonna go up to their rooms or the hotel bar after the training, right?

We recruited my mom to watch A from the time L left for the airport until I got home on Tuesday, and ponied up a lot of $$ for our usual babysitter to watch him for a very long day on Wednesday. I was not looking forward to waking my baby up before he’s used to so that I could take him to a baby sitter at the ass crack of dawn and then solo parent him all day, but . . .you do what you gotta do.

When I got home on Tuesday from a very long, not terribly interesting training, my mom informed me that Ansel had barfed. No biggie, as I assumed it was during lunch and caused by his very sensitive gag reflex. But, nope, he barfed while she was changing his diaper, completely unprovoked. He seemed ok, so I didn’t think much of it and figured it might have just been a fluke.

But Wednesday morning, he puked twice while we were getting ready to leave, so I couldn’t very well send him to the babysitter for a 9 hour day. Lukily, I wasn’t THAT disappointed to miss day two of a boring training, although dealing with puke wasn’t high on my list either. He puked twice more throughout the day but seemed in great spirits otherwise. He also seemed to pick up a snotty nose and cough as the puking diminished, and by yesterday, he was just having the cold symptoms. Clingy, tired, cranky cold symptoms.

So, three days of solo parenting a clingy, sick toddler and I was SO glad for L to get home last night! And, more excited that she was so happy with how the interview went!

It was a day long affair that included a tour, interview with the Dean, interview with the VP and President, teaching demo, meet and greet with the interview committee, and lunch with the music faculty. It sounded exhausting, but she also felt really positive about it – she loved the school, the dean, the president, all of it. The students she gave the demo to told her they “voted” for her because “we actually learned something from you!” Apparently, another candidate was one step ahead the whole time – awkward.

There is one more candidate getting the day-long interview in two half days on Monday and Tuesday and then she should hear a decision by mid next week. The waiting is miserable, of course, especially now that the stakes are so very high. But, ultimately, it’s a pretty brief interim between interview and decision, so we’re going to try and hold out. Easier said than done, and easier for me than her.

I have two and a half days left of being able to walk with two legs. On Monday morning (at 5 fucking 45 a.m.) I will go in and they will micro fracture my bone and tighten up my ligament and maybe clip the sheath on my achilles and then I’ll roll around on a scooter for 6 weeks, maybe while trying to get our house ready to sell (?!) This is definitely feeling more do-able than it has, but I’m still fucking terrified. Luckily, we have a great community of folks who have volunteered to bring food, watch Ansel, and generally help out!

Last Friday, the doc upped my maintenance med and prescribed some ati.van for anxiety attacks. Both have helped significantly. I’m still taking the ati.van about every other day at this point, but am beginning to feel much better in general. I’m glad to know it was an easy adjustment with medications. Fuck anxiety right in it’s eye.

 

The rambling road to relief

First of all: Thanks, to all of you, for being such a badass supportive community. I think I feel most at home in this strange semi-anonymity semi-intimacy of a strong internet community. Is that weird? A sign of the times? I don’t mean that I don’t love and value my in-person friendships, because I do. But also, I have a very hard time admitting when shit it hard but also know deeply how much I need to admit that. This seems like a good first step, saying it here and getting some goodness back. I can take that out into the ‘real world.’

Would you all believe that, despite living in a city where you (pretty) literally can’t throw a rock without hitting a pot dispensary, I totally forgot that both medical and recreational marijua.na is available to me? Well, it’s true. It’s just not on my radar.

I’m not a teetoler, but I do have some complex feelings about drugs and alcohol. My dad is a (currently sober) alcoholic and addict. A trained pharmacist who lost his license due to drug use, and who continued to have long periods of sobriety followed by dramatic binge drinking episodes up until about 7 years ago, when the last dramatic binge occurred. My grandfather – my mother’s father – was also a binge drinking alcoholic, although he was more predictable and drank 2-3 times a year at Christmas and tax season. My mother tells me she felt sure my father was NOT an alcoholic because he ‘handled his liquor so well.’ For the record, that’s not how it works.

So, I grew up hearing that my brother would become an alcoholic (he’s not) and that I would marry one. It’s never good to write your children’s future like that, but especially not in the case of substance abuse where the tendency towards co-dependence already exists, just by seeing alcoholism play out in front of you. I mostly did love alcoholics, most of them deeply and actively in their addiction, one not drinking but acting like an addict anyway, a few sober.

For myself, I’ve always been wary of alcohol. I overanalyze my use of it – do I drink too much, how do I feel when I’m drinking, or just after? But I’m not an alcoholic, of that much I’m sure. And because of my social scene and current life experiences, I drink very very rarely, and almost never more than one or two at a sitting. Alcohol doesn’t occur to me as a coping mechanism. I’m not the mom with wine in my tumbler.

My experience with drugs has been a little different. It’s funny because my dad was an addict too, it was all a matter of convenience. When he was a pharmacist, he used drugs because they were easy to get. Before and after, he preferred handles of cheap vodka. As a child, I have a single memory of my father injecting himself with morphine, but many that involve the particular smell of too much vodka, and a lot of finding giant bottles hidden in toilet tanks.

In high school, I smoked a lot of pot. Because the people I spent time with did, and so why not? As long as I was with those people, the ones I trusted, I liked the way pot helped me get out of my head and stop overthinking things (or, at least, overthink them in new ways.) I still drew steep boundaries that my peers didn’t have. Never before school, never during school, never when I might have to drive. I jokingly refer to myself as a pot head, but really, I never was.  Not really. In college, I smoked occassionally, and drank rarely. When I did, I tended towards existential crisis or hearing God talk, but that’s par for the course when you’re a religious studies major.

After college, one of my best friends (and the first active addict and alcoholic I ever loved outside my father) introduced me to coc.aine. I think, had it not been difficult to obtain and more expensive than I could afford on my coffee shop wages, I could have ended up in trouble with that drug. It felt like super coffee, adding shimmer and excitement without loss of control. But it was too expensive, and I did only make $7 an hour, so I dodged that particular bullet.

But I haven’t smoked pot in years. I’m just not in a space socially where it comes up, and I don’t seek it out on my own. Thus, being able to totally forget that I live in a place where it’s legal.

Thanks to some suggestions on this blog in response to my last post, I remembered. And it seemed like a good time to both go check out this thing that exists in Colorado and explore if it might be a good fit for dealing with my anxiety.

I voted YES to legalize pot for recreational use a few years ago because it just makes sense. I generally think criminalizing drug use is a bad move, and think harm reduction is a much more realistic goal than abstinence for most addicts, because I lived with one who couldn’t get sober for 30+ years despite being an incredible man who I deeply love and respect. Generally, I don’t think jails are the answer to much, but they damn sure aren’t a good answer to drug and alcohol addiction.

But yesterday, I learned even more why legalization is so.good. I walked into a dispensary recommended by a friend. I felt totally safe, but a little nervous. I showed the security guard my ID and he gave me an entry pass. There was a long counter with employees, a chalkboard with daily specials, and a list of the strains they had on hand. I told one of the guys what was happening – my anxiety felt out of control, my medications weren’t working, I didn’t want to get stoned but maybe some pot would help me calm down. He made some recommendations for strains that I could buy in flower form, as well as some edible options. I decided to go with the buds because I would have more control over the amount I took in and the strains I could use. I paid $25 bucks for a gram and a single hit pipe (because I got rid of any paraphanalia long ago!)

Last night before bed I took two hits and my entire body relaxed, but my mind never felt crazy. I never got the cottony feeling inside my head, things didn’t get slow and stupid. It was like my body was stoned but my brain was not. The benefit to this was that without the pounding heart and clenching fists and weight on my chest, my mind was able to wander in a relaxed kind of way. The anxiety didn’t feel oppressive, it just felt like it existed. It quieted down. I didn’t feel high, I just felt relief.

I’m still hopeful that my doctor will increase my maintenance medication, and write me a script for the benzo that also helps. But I’m glad to have this as an option. It’s strange to move from thinking of pot as a drug in the illicit sense to thinking of it like a medication. There’s still so much stigma around it, warranted or not. I’m hoping I won’t get that here, but I guess I might expect it. Of course, I took the same precautions I take whenever I use a medication that might impact my function as a parent. I asked my partner to support me, I took the medication after putting Ansel to bed and didn’t co-sleep. Still, it’s hard not to feel like maybe I’m being a lousy mom. Pot is legal here, but there’s still so much gray to what that means.

Thanks for the suggestion, friends. And thanks for coming down this rambling path exploring my own feelings about drugs and alcohol. The lines are thin and wavering when it comes to all of this. What’s legal, what’s “right”, what we prioritize, how we ensure we are taking care of ourselves and our children.Muddling though is all any of us can do.

The Bigness

7 years ago, I started having panic attacks. I didn’t know that’s what they were. I just knew that I’d be trying to do something, and my mind would get swimmy and my breath would get short and my hands would get weak and trembly and I couldn’t focus on any one thing because someone had turned the volume up on all of my many, many too too many thoughts.

When the bigness passed, I’d still have this residual feeling of sitting on top of volcano poised to explode. Like the crazy could come tumbling out any minute, if I shifted my weight to the side or didn’t keep constant vigil. That feeling, the feeling of having to contain something uncontainable, was constant.

The attacks did not happen in response to big, scary things. They happened when I had to decide what to eat for dinner, or if I should meet my friend for coffee. That’s how I knew that something was wrong. Because it had not previously caused me physical distress to make simple decisions, or when faced with completing basic human functions.

So off I went to the doctor, who prescribed me a benzo for the actual attacks (like xane.x but not, if you’re not in the know) and a longer term maintenance medication. After about 6 months of being on the maintenance med, I was hardly ever using the benzo, so I stopped getting it refilled.

I’ve been on that same dose of the maintenance medication from that time until my pregnancy, when they dropped my dose by half. I tolerated the drop just fine, and felt good about staying on the medication but also lowering the amount needed. I have stayed on that lower dose since Ansel was born. It’s been just fine.

In the last few weeks, life feels like it’s gone off the rails. That feeling of sitting on the volcano is back, and almost once a day for the last week, I’ve had a panic attack. Mostly, they’ve been mild, the kind I can manage with some deep breathing, or a walk. But some of them have been much worse, the out of focus physical exhaustion kind. On Sunday, it was because we were running late to Mother’s Day lunch. Today, it was reviewing my fairly average to do list. Something is wrong.

There is some added stress in life, yes. I’m terrified to my core of the recovery for this upcoming surgery, which renders me unable to walk for weeks. I’m nervous but so excited about the opportunities L might have career wise and where that might take our family. I’m slightly nervous about what packing up and selling a home might look like while I am unable to walk. But none of this seems to add up to the kind of anxiety I’m feeling. I can’t get rid of it – it feels smothering.

So, I’m headed back to the doc on Friday. I’m hoping they’ll give me than benzo script again, for the meantime, and maybe up my dose of the maintenance. And I’m going to try and be more diligent about getting sleep when I can (ha. ha ha ha.) and taking some time to myself. A friend of mine gave me a couple of ativa.n that I probably won’t take because I’m anxious about only have two of them (irony.) as well as a chamomile tincture to try.

I hate how on edge I get, how the fear of being out of control looks like anger to my family, how close to tears I am all the time, just trying to hold it together. My stomach is a mess, I’m not able to fall asleep even when Ansel is, and I’m making terrible choices about food which only makes me feel worse. All of this is compounded by the deep fear I now have about how this impacts my ability to parent, and the ways anxiety uses my sweet boy to fuck with my head, by fixating on his health or imaging myself or him dying. It’s a shitshow, y’all. That’s what I’m saying.

 

Olympia, take 2!

L just got a call for a second interview at the school in Olympia! She heads out on the 17th for a day long series of interviews with the dean,  the President of the College,  and a teaching demo with students.
Maybe we’ll be moving to the PacNW after all.  But most importantly,  maybe my incredibly well qualified partner will finally have the full time,  tenure track position she deserves. 

Send the prayers and the woo and the juju!

Here’s how excited Ansel is:

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Grumpasaurus

Uuuuuugggghhhhh. Fucking Monday, amiright?

I’m both trying to be more diligent about posting weekly and also so uninspired by my job right now, that I am posting even though I’m kinda grouchy (couldn’t tell, could ya?) and not entirely sure what I’m going to write about. I’ve been generally crabby/tender hearted/emotionally fragile for about a week now and I’m not sure why . . .I thought last week that my first post partum period might be coming (OMG can we just stop for a minute and talk about how it’s been almost two years since I got a period?!? Weeeeird) – but that doesn’t seem to have panned out. So, I’m not sure. Anxiety about the idea of moving across the country? Anxiety about things staying the same? Lil’a’this, lil’a’that, I imagine? Haven’t slept properly in 13 1/2 months? Stuck in a basement office instead of hanging out with my adorable and rapidly more brilliant kid?

So many options to be grouchy, so little time.

But the kid . . .oh, that kid.

It’s like daily that he does something new and totally charming. Like, this weekend he started saying “Ni-Ni” when we put him to bed AND now, when we ask him if he’s ready for “Night Night” before bed or his naps, he stops whatever he’s doing and toddles into his room saying “Ni-Ni, Ni-Ni.” IT fucking SLAYS me!
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He’s also gotten super into books, and now really enjoys going to pick some out to read. He’ll grab two usually, and we’ll read them before his nap or bed, but last week after we finished the two, he kept getting down off my lap to get more, then again, and again. He’s REALLY loves books these days, and it’s filling my heart with so much joy.

My mom found this picture of me at 17 months old and even though I sort of know that Ansel looks like me, I also don’t actually believe it. Mostly because he is the most adorable person in the entire world and I am FAR from it, so how does it work that we look alike? I don’t have the answer to this condundrum, but it seems pretty clear we are related. I think in a few more months, his hair should also be about this long!

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In other news, we decided not to try for #2 this month. L is having some health stuff that’s aggravated by stress, and we might actually have some news about the job front by June, so it would make a little more sense to give it a go then anyway. But, as I’ve said before, it’s her body so she really gets to call the shots. I’m not into having anyone feel anything but excited about sperm in their vagina, you know?

She felt good about the interview (side note: Ansel, two bulldogs, one old springer spaniel and I all piled into the CRV to go for a drive while she had her skype interview, lest the dogs bark/baby cry/whatever other act of interview mayhem could ensue with our menagerie) and I just want to give myself some kudos for momming/partnering the fuck up because that SUCKED. It was rainy out, so we couldn’t go to the dog park or anywhere, really. I went through the drive through at s’bux and got myself a coffee and then we drove around. It was mostly ok, because the bulldogs peeking over the seat kept Ansel laughing, but then we hit traffic and he started crying and I could only console him with baby cheetos which is NOT a method I really like employing especially in the car, and the dogs then wanted access to baby cheetos too so I had to hand them back one by one and . . .whew. It was exhausting. We all did our part on this interview, that’s all I’m saying.) She should know by the end of this week or early next if she is up for the second interview which would involve going back out to Oly. Keep the things crossed!

I applied for a job in Seattle in my field (it’s not IDEAL for if L is in Olympia but it felt worth applying for) and have also been thinking about what other ways I might be able to use my background. I’m considering paying to take some classes/get a certification in Instructional Design, since I do that anyway and it could be a good transfer to for-profit contexts. But really this is probably just me having my anxiety in a very typical type A fashion.

I really want to be writing things that are more than just updates, things that require a little more insight and depth. Like how, more and more, I’ve been having feelings about the responsibility of raising a white guy and at least making a hearty effort to ensure he doesn’t turn out to be a total dick. But also how I have, in my past, thought things like “Do men even HAVE real feelings?!” and how weird it feels to have thought that and be parenting a son who OMG totally has beautiful, complex, deep feelings and realizing how fucked our culture is that is steals the opportunity to have rich and nuanced emotional lives from men.

But, you know, MORE.

So, aside from that . . .I guess I’m out?