Tuesday, August 29, 2006

My Brain, an Update

My doctor put me on Strattera for possible Adult ADD. I have to go see him in a month and if the Strattera hasn't helped, he says he will try Zoloft for anxiety. That would be the fourth SSRI I've been on. I am nothing if not a test-market for psychotropic drugs. So far in my life I have been on Paxil, Prozac, Effexor, and Trileptal. That last one is an anti-convulsant generally prescribed to epileptics but sometimes used as a mood stabilizer too. My dosage was so high when I lost my insurance that I couldn't have seized if I'd been electrocuted.

So far the Strattera makes me very tired (non-stimulant is an understatement) but it's too soon to notice any difference in mood or energy level. Whether it's Strattera or Zoloft or something else, I hope something works. My kid doesn't need to be raised by a bitch.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

How To Annoy Me

Blatant imitation, but it looks like fun so I'll do it too. Here goes:

How To Annoy Me:

Praise Quentin Tarantino. Have you ever seen Jackie Brown?

Refer to Samuel L Jackson as a genius. "Muthafucka" is not genius. It's tourettes.

Say "irregardless" (Mom!)

Say PIN number or VIN number. The N stands for number!

Say ATM machine. See above.

Smash all my stuff up at the store just to fit it into one cart. Face it, hon, we are that family.

Ask to borrow a tampon. Ewwwwwwww.

Hit redial when your call is met with an instant hangup. Obviously I hit Talk and Stop simultaneously for a reason. I'm trying to nap, here!

Give me the "I'm sure your child is very bright" look when I tell you at parents' night to test my kid's reading. She reads Shakespeare and she's 8. Do the math.

Diagnose my PMS and/or period. Even if it is that time of the month, I still have a viable complaint.

Say "Hon?" and then wait 2 minutes before asking the question, then get upset that I forgot I was supposed to be listening for something.

Give me a dirty look for wearing slippers to buy beer. You're lucky I'm not in a robe.

Give me a dirty look for having dogs that bark all day. I could let them out all night.

Give me a dirty look for buying my kid a cell phone. She pays the bill for her line out of her allowance and it's not my job to make you look generous.

Ask my honest opinion, then get upset when I give it. Next time think before you ask.

Insult my side of the family. That's MY job, thank you very much.

Come home from Wal-Mart with acne medication and diet pills for me. You really don't want to see your next birthday, do you?

Get upset when I send singing waiters to you six months after your birthday. One word: Eureka.

Watch a show I've been waiting two weeks to watch with you, and then delete it from the DVR. Wonder why I sent those waiters to you?

Answer a question as if I should already know the answer. "Well you know he died last summer." Yeah, that's why I asked what he's up to.

Write "would of" instead of "would have". There's a line between phonetic and ignorant.

Tell me gay is a choice when you're straight. And you would know how, exactly?

Watch The West Wing religiously and praise its characters, and then vote republican. Tom, you make no sense!

Pretend you don't know what "OS" means on the honeydew list, or why it's on there three times. Oh you know, alright.

Put out a mousetrap ten minutes before you leave for California and then tell me over the phone to keep the trap because they cost a whole 25 cents. Get real! Like I'm going to pry a mouse corpse out from under a wire to save a lousy quarter.

Refuse to explain to me why my keyboard has no key for the little slashed through c sign for cents. You're the computer help desk!

Be American and call soccer football.

Be American and stick arbitrary U's into words. (colour, flavour, favourite)

Tell me I look like Dave Mustaine. I've heard it before and it's not a compliment. (Anyone under 30 even know who Dave Mustaine is?)

Insist upon calling me Charlene, because it is my real name. No one argues with Bob or Rich or Don, don't argue with me.

Ask if you can use my bathroom when what you really mean to ask is where it is. I will tell you "No."

Throw my lawn furniture into a heap against the side of my house. If I pay you to mow, doesn't that make me your boss?

Say that dandelions aren't flowers. Lawn-nazi.

Point out that I have dark roots. Really? I have mirrors too.

Point out that I have gray hairs. See above.

Refill my wine glass when I'm not looking. I'm trying to keep track here!

Say "You know what? Nevermind." You can't do that.

Give me parenting advice when your kid lives in a trailer with five kids and a worthless boyfriend, or is on the sex offender registry. I mean, come on!

Look at me funny when I bring my trash to the curb at 9:00 am in my bathrobe just as the truck gets there. Maybe I'm too busy to do it any other time.

Ask me if I'm worried about Judgement since I'm not a Christian. No, are you worried about your next life?

Believe that Angelina did NOT break up Brad and Jennifer. She may be charitable and hot, but she's still a homewrecker.

Come home from two weeks on the road and then immediately clean the kitchen. Just what are you trying to say?

Get mad when you find a load of jeans permanently wrinkled into a knot in the dryer. The buzzer is broke and I forget.

Wonder why my best friend knows about our sex life. Uhh, cause I'm a chick?!

Call women my size chubby and then tell me I'm sexy. Yeah right.

Say "ironical". The word is ironic.

Say "eera". It's pronounced aira.

Question my useless stores of pointless facts. Like I remember exactly where I read that only female mosquitoes drink blood, and no I don't know what the males eat.

Imply that I'm a disappointment to Mom. Nice breathalyzer, is it attached directly to the engine or just the ignition?

Complain about taxes and follow it with "This is why I don't vote." Don't vote? Don't bitch.

Allow your kid to come over and ask mine to play half an hour before lunch. If I have to feed her it's officially babysitting, and I will send you a bill.

Complain about having a large chest and then tell me I'm so lucky not to have to worry about it.

Play gangster rap loudly with your windows down, right in front of an elementary school! I don't care how tough you are, be human.

Try to tell me there's a difference between a racial slur ending in a and the same one ending in er. I'm not buying it. Ho and Whore are the same, so is that.

Put spam comments on my blog. No I don't find religious conspiracies interesting. If you're not commenting on the post, don't comment.

Give my neglected flowerbeds sad looks. Most weeds do eventually flower, you know.

Say "I could care less." Really? Because I couldn't. Think about it,

Tell me you can't do anything about the unedited ganster rap your students play in front of your school because the street is public property, and then hassle me when I light a cigarette out there. Make up your mind!

Become rich and famous and then endorse products you obviously don't use. Like I'm going to believe that Sarah Jessica Parker dyes her hair at home with a kit she bought at Wal-Mart.

Send me pro-war chain mail. I don't need an inbox full of "Re: Fwd Fwd Fwd Fwd" messages ending with animated flags, eagles, or fireworks. I support the troops, not the war, and there is a difference.

Say "progressive" as though it were an insult. How can progress be bad? Perhaps those who dislike progressives should be called regressives.

Talk about getting your pet "spaded". Spayed, past tense of spay.

Repeatedly attempt to fly into my ear and then disappear when I grab a fly-swatter. One day life span, my ass!

Somehow find a way to respect a president who says "nucular".

Monday, August 21, 2006

An embarrassment

Real quick, although I may revisit the subject later, our president is an embarrassment. But what's worse is that there are actually people who elected him! There are people who share his vision of America and they may get it; they may win. Not a few crackpots and snake-handlers and wandering Old Testament street-preachers, but enough people to swing a national election.

How do these people live with themselves? How can they listen to this man, watch him on TV, and not see that he is, at best, a HUGE role model to the developmentally disabled? I can understand republican party-lines; I pretty much follow democratic ones. But if we had a democratic president as painfully stupid as GW Bush I would be able to say "Fine. You know what? There's one incredibly horribly incompetent ignorant democrat out there, and he's the one in office." I mean, read through the quotes in the link above! The man makes Paris Hilton look like Stephen Hawking. If he were running any other nation, I would laugh and laugh, but he's here so it's more sad than funny. I really do wonder just how far his eight years in office will turn out to have set us back. How long will it take, how many competent presidents must we elect in that time, to undo what Bush has done? He's already left a legacy in the Supreme Court. He has already done so much to validate homophobia and a Christian sense of superiority. He has already, by admission of his own prejudices, given an implied government sanction to hatred and intolerance, and tried to add it to the US Constitution. Considering the freedoms and individual rights this country is based on, he should not only be impeached, but tried for treason as well. And not just for the gays; I hear he may be tapping straight phones too.

The First Day Of Third Grade

I hate the first day of school. I always get this sick feeling in the pit of my stomach like I'm feeding her to the lions. Someday I will look back on that feeling and know I should have listened to it, but by then it will be too late. She will have become a drone. But I know that I don't have the means to home-school her and that she needs the social interaction, so I send her off on her scooter with her stiff new backpack strapped on, knowing that the teachers are waiting to strip her of all remnants of individuality.

On the first day of kindergarten we send dozens of happy enthusiastic children off to school, and by second grade they want to drop out. Why? Not because they are tired of learning. No, it's because deep down they instinctively resist being transformed into mindless herds of cattle, pushed single-file through the school system, unable to even take a tylenol or cough drop without it being spoon-fed to them by the school nurse. It's sad to watch, to see my daughter , whom I have raised and nurtured for eight years, disappear into some random cookie-cutter image of Standard Caucasian Female. So far she's done okay, but for how long?

She still prefers Rachael Ray to Hilary Duff, and Animal Planet to MTV, and I encourage it. But someday soon her Christmas wish list will include a Britney Spears CD, her Tony Shaloub as Monk poster will be replaced by some over-styled boyband, and wardrobe arguments will go from "You've outgrown those pants, they're too short" to "You are NOT leaving this house with your belly showing!"

It's not that I resist her growing up. Well, not much anyway. It's that I resist her being made into a conformist by teachers too under-staffed and under-motivated to deal with individuals. We send these kids off to schools to be made just like all the others ("See how Johnny colors inside the lines? Don't you want to do it just like he does?") and then we wonder why they succumb so easily to peer pressure. We didn't raise them to do things just because the other kids do them, did we? Well no, we didn't. But while our time with them was spent arguing about teeth-brushing and homework and bedtimes, while we made dinner and sorted laundry, we spent far less time with them than we thought. From age five on, we hand them off to teachers and soccer coaches and troop leaders, and as long as they don't get molested we think it's fine. But none of those people are in the business of thinking about the adult they're helping to shape. They want high test scores and game scores and more patches ironed on a vest. They teach competition, not compassion. Labor, not love.

I think I'm going to spend more time with her this year. Not get as worked up about teacher reports as I have in the past. Let them worry about classroom participation for a year; I'll worry about exactly who I may be sending off to college in a decade.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Look Into My Brain

I just happened upon another mom's blog, albeit a much more glamorous mom than me. But I realized that her description, or the one she endorses anyway, of depression fits me. Then again, so do the symptoms of chronic anxiety, and the ones for Adult ADD. I know I have something; my moods don't fit my thoughts.

My father died three years ago, after declaring himself cured of colon cancer. As I look back on it, my belief in that statement was incredibly naive. Even if the cancer had been confined to one area, and that had been removed, any doctor would have followed up with a hearty dose of radiation, just to be sure. But he was my father, so I believed him when he said he was getting better. Until I got the call late one morning that he had died the previous evening. No chance to say "goodbye" or "I love you" or any of the things you think you'll be able to tell your father when he dies. To make it worse, he had made all of his own funeral arrangements, which is to say none. By the time I was even told of his death he was already cremated and safely stored in a plastic box on my uncle's passenger seat. I got depressed. I had seen many a psychiatrist's office in my young life, but this time was different. I found a therapist I liked, not just one I felt was (or wasn't) capable. I was put on a mood stabilizer and all was going so well. Until within one month my therapist took a job elsewhere and I lost my job, along with my health insurance. I tapered off the meds and tried to "suck it up".

Now, however, I find it more and more difficult to suck it up. I have no patience, no attention span, and am constantly irritable and/or irritated. It's like that part of PMS where nothing goes right and you just want to scream and cry at the same time, and god help anyone who has the nerve to ask what's wrong. Except that for me, it's every day. And Tom doesn't understand. Apparently I've become so talented at sucking it up that he hasn't seen anything amiss. Well, that and the fact that he's never home. Also, I guess his ex girlfriends were all pretty bitchy, so he thinks it's just normal female behavior. Either way, it's hard to justify the expense of medical treatment and prescriptions to a man who doesn't see a problem. But I see it, I have to live it. And I don't really think it's depression because I like my life. I like myself. I just don't like my moods. I have 100 things I want to do but I can't decide which to do first, and I get bored with them once I start anyway.

I have called three clinics looking for an appointment with a doctor and finally got one to be screened for ADD. Unfortunately it's with the same doctor who refused to prescribe anything for me last time. He seems to feel I'm a little out of his league. I hope I get some help at least figuring out what's wrong with me. It has to be chemical; it's sure not situational. I'll write more when I find out what happens.

Monday, August 14, 2006

To Adopt Or Not To Adopt

My daughter's father came for a visit the other day. He usually stops by in late summer, sometimes just once and sometimes for a few consecutive weekends, but the longest it's ever lasted was until Halloween. I don't know why it's always in late summer, but that's how it's worked out for the last 5 or 6 years. So this time I asked him if he would be willing to let Tom adopt. It would depend, of course, on cost and whether or not she wanted to be adopted, but I wanted to know if Eric would be willing to sign off. I didn't get an answer but I am thinking seriously about this. It wouldn't change much but her name, but it would eliminate the possibility of Eric getting custody should I die.

I dated Eric for two months when I was eighteen. Apparently, dating me filled him with such self-esteem that he decided he could do better. He also decided that my mere presence among our friends was cause for violence. I applied for a restraining order at one point, but never followed through with it. I figured restraining orders were for battered wives, not ex-girlfriends who could probably avoid a beating by avoiding mutual friends. But I didn't avoid those friends, and Eric and I were sort of on-again off-again until I heard that he had impregnated a fifteen year old. At that point, I asked him to leave my apartment and didn't really see him again until about a year later. They had broken up and he had gotten locked out of the place he was staying at, and I told him he could crash at my place. I shared the bed, figuring that if he tried to start anything, I could just tell him no; it had happened before. But it didn't work out this time. I woke up the next day pregnant.

He ended up getting back together with his son's mother, and when I told him I was pregnant, I got no response. I've already covered the decision to raise my daughter alone in other posts here. Just suffice it to say that aside from the occasional ten dollar bill offered in hopes of winning my affections, he has never paid any child support. She was 3 weeks old the first time he saw her, though I had called him from the hospital the day she was born. He has given her one birthday gift and no cards or gifts for any other holiday. He is basically just a guy with similar features who comes by once or twice a year to say Hi. She calls him Eric.

But now she has a dad, a man who know her likes and dislikes, who buys her souvenir magnets and postcards from all over the country, who thinks of her as his own, who loves her. Legally she has no father; the space on her birth certificate is blank. Eric never came to the hospital to sign it, and the DNA test we got to prove paternity to him was never entered into any court files. I would like her to have a father, and for her to have the same name as future siblings. I would like to know that if I were to die, that a toothless pizza delivery guy couldn't split up my kids by staking a claim to one. I would like to know that if Tom were to die, that all of the kids would get the same Social Security benefits. But most of all, I would like to be rid of that tiny fear in the back of my head that someday Eric will pop up and try to get visitation rights. Adoption or not, I wouldn't tell my daughter that she couldn't see him. But if she did not want to, I don't want to ever have to make her. He has a history of drug use, of drinking, of living in filth. He has no respect for personal hygiene. Simply put, he's not good enough for her. But Tom is. I just hope Eric agrees to sign off. Once I get everyone to say they would go through with an adoption, then I will ask her if she wants to be adopted. Then maybe my 'big happy family with one last name on the mailbox' fantasy will come true.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

My Dirty Secret

I have a secret. I try to hide it from most of my more casual acquaintances, but it gets out anyway, so I'm spilling it right now. I married a republican jock.

I am, if you haven't already guessed, a very liberal democrat. I don't want to legalize recreational pot or anything. I just tend to be pretty open-minded on the social topics. Tom, on the other hand, is a republican. He thinks George W is a fine leader worthy of respect. How can anyone other than Pat Robertson think that? I just don't get it. My nightly news program is hosted by Jon Stewart and I'm happy with that. Tom has the truck radio turned to Fox News all day. We have learned not to debate politics.

I believe that there's a tiny part of all people that stays in high school. It's the part that gets nervous before a reunion or smiles when the adult version of the football captain smiles at us. So it was quite shocking for me to learn that my husband was a football star. He was Mr Popular. I was not popular. I wore black and kept to myself. In a packed cafeteria, I sat alone. I never wore black lipstick, or dyed my hair black or any of the stuff kids do these days, but I was extreme for back then. Basically, I was Ally Sheedy in The Breakfast Club. And Tom was Emilio Estevez. Ironically enough, those two characters ended up together in the film, but we all know that wouldn't happen in real life.

Normally, my husband's high school status and political affiliations don't bother me much. In fact, they rarely occur to me. But we are planning to have more children and I fear that he will encourage our son to one day forsake books for balls, and college for the military. I grew up despising jocks, seeing letterman jackets as a modern-day equivalent of SS armbands. And being raised by a mother who harassed military recruiters at every chance, I see military service as one of the least intelligent forms of suicide. Want to see the world? Fine, join the Peace Corps or Doctors Without Borders. Anything but making yourself cannon fodder for the government's agenda. If we were fighting our own war I may feel different; I certainly did when we went to Afghanistan. But more often than not, we are fighting over oil or jumping into other countries' civil wars. Look at our current record. Osama attacked us, so we dropped the ball on catching him and instead got Saddam.

But back to my husband the republican jock. I have come to accept football games in my living room and he has come to accept my unique way of telling him what happened while he was in the bathroom. "The blue guy hit the red guy and then they all piled up." And he has come to admit that perhaps there is no logical argument against equal rights for gays. I'll never be able to see GW Bush as more than a potty-trained circus monkey, and he'll probably never see Bill Clinton as more than the guy who got blowjobs in the oval office, but we try to meet somewhere in the middle, or at least pretend to.

I just don't think I will ever get used to his old high school stories about being one of the popular guys, dating the popular girls. I can't even imagine what he thinks of my "I had the worthless jock's car towed out of the school parking lot" tales. Maybe opposites really do attract. Or maybe the puffed-up jocks just come crashing down to Earth once they finally blow out their knees or fumble the winning touchdown, or whatever it is that makes star athletes real people again.

Friday, August 04, 2006

The Bush Woman

No, not Laura, and not some half-naked tribal matron in National Geographic either, although I secretly like the idea that some of you may picture her this way. The Bush Woman, as I call her in an attempt to convince myself that she is too insignificant to warrant remembering her first name, is my antithesis. She is the embodiment of all the snooty moms from The New Adventures of Old Christine.

I live in a town of 4400 people, surrounded by corn and soybean fields. There is one high school, 4 stop lights, and an estimated 23 Christian churches. I may be exaggerating about the churches, but not by much. My daughter goes to school with a normal little girl, unremarkable to casual observance. But the girl's mother is the one I can't stand.

You know the type, always drops her kid off at 8am in perfect hair and make-up, president of the PTA, the first name on the class party volunteer sheet. There are other mothers more involved than me, more put together than me, but this one somehow surpasses all of them combined. Her husband owns his own business, and she drives a huge pick-up truck emblazoned with the company name, lest anyone think her any less than the wife of a successful entrepreneur. She gained quite a bit of weight when pregnant a few years ago, but it doesn't make me happy like it should. Probably because she doesn't seem to care. She still carries herself as though she is perfect, but worse, like she is MORE perfect than any of the rest of us. She is the woman who has never made a bad choice in her life. She never dated a loser, never got a tattoo she regrets, never woke up hungover hearing stories of what she did the night before. She married a great man and had great children, and no doubt lives in an great house full of great furnishings. She's Donna Reed, and it makes those of us who struggle look like Peg Bundy.

The obvious solution would be to shrug it off. Declare her to be a snob and then go on my way, but come on! Who really has the self-esteem to walk by that upturned perfectly formed nose and not want to sock her in the stomach? So I should just avoid her, avoid even seeing her. But I can't! She's the one taking the money at the school book fair. She's the one helping the kids with their costumes for the Halloween parade. She's the one walking out of the parent-teacher conference while I wait to go in, thanking the teacher for all the praise. I'm the one waiting to hear how my kid can't concentrate and doesn't participate in class. Hello! My kid can't concentrate because she's been reading at a junior high level for 2 years and you're trying to explain how to pluralize words ending with S.

The worst part is, Bush Woman syndrome will be passed on to the daughter. Her father owns a business, her name is one that has been in this town for generations, and she's not disfigured. She will be prom queen, class president, and have all the right extra-curricular activities on her college resume. In high school, she will have no acne, braces that make her look all-American rather than awkward, and in gym class she will complain about having to shave her legs every week to keep them smooth. She will get a car on her 16th birthday, a $300 prom dress, and date the football star of the class ahead of hers. She will go off to college and continue her charmed life, and then move right back to this town to breed another generation of Bush Women with a different but equally revered last name.