Saturday, September 29, 2012

How did it get to be October? Of 2012?

Wow, time goes fast.

One might have hoped that I got all of my work done on my illustration project over the summer.  I certainly did...hope so that is.  I did not though.  Between being moody and adjusting meds, traveling, recovering from travel, dealing with two kids and an ailing ancient dog, and the rest of whatever happened this summer, I did not get much illustration done, to my regret and chagrin.  Granted, it's not like I have a paid period of time in which to do it, but I'd hoped for better.  Perhaps you have dutifully brought work along on vacations before?  How did that go for you?  I, apparently, did not have the necessary discipline to attack it, which is strange, since I should enjoy it.  Sigh.  I wish more of my behavior was rational sometimes.

My dog, as I mentioned is ancient.  He's going to be 16 in November.  I was walking him tonight in my fuzzy robe (or "housecoat" as my mom would've called it), smelling the crisp night air and enjoying the note of some kind of smoke I detected there.  I swear I heard a screech owl in the distance.  I don't think it was a warbly police siren.  My dog hobbled along, unsure of the terrain he couldn't see, crashing over low objects, back legs stiffly straight, to keep his patellas from moving and painfully popping back into the track so overworn in his knees that they'd long slipped out of position.  I've had him since mid grad-school.  I got him in 1997, a six month old puppy found with his sister on the side of a highway in the middle of Iowa farmland.

He's seen me through grad school and my anxiety and depression that were finally identified and treated there, graduation, my first full-time non-summer job, marriage, moving back East, my real actual job in my field of study, my first pregnancy, first child, first instance of post-partum depression, interim, second pregnancy, second child, second bout of post-partum depression, and the four years since then including children's growth and my mother's death, until this year, the first that saw the first significant span of real stability of mood in six years.  He went from being my only baby to an afterthought, for which I feel quite guilty, but not enough to have acted differently.

No wise conclusion tonight.  We took our time walking up to the corner and back and I didn't mind waiting for him.  So many times I've been impatient to get back to a task or tend to myself or sleep or something.  Tonight I appreciated him again.  I am going to miss him when he's gone.  It will be the close of an era for me in my life.  I wonder if that's how I'm going to mark my life.  Chldhood.  Childhood dog.  Finish college.  Grad school dog.  His era.  Then the era of the dog that witness my children make it to college or whatever they do.  Then the next?

I don't want to deal with another death.  I'm gonna snuggle him for sure tonight.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Happy 4th!

Was maybe 25yds from VP tonight for his speech + orchestra + fireworks in downtown Scranton, PA. Fun! My dad lived just 2 blocks or so from his house growing up (& Casey's). Excellent fireworks, music, & speech.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Heart Stain

Heart-shaped baby-poop stain from


A few interesting articles I saw online today on
Motherhood and depression, An interview with Tracy Thompson
Keys to becoming a positive person
Respectful child discipline starts with the parent

Regarding this last one, resisting power plays with my children is something with which I often struggle. I guess I was raised with pretty traditional discipline; we were spanked when appropriate, but not overly so and we knew we were loved. Yet I know that I have power issues. It angers me, I feel, too quickly, when I am defied by my kids too often or with attitude. I WANT to wield my power over them, to bend them to my will, maybe even occasionally to break their spirit.  Isn't that awful? Why? I'm not sure. If it were someone else, I'd say this behavior indicates someone who does not feel in control of their own life and has a psychological need to see themselves as being in control, with defiance threatening to expose their actual lack of control and therefore threatening the self.

But, why would I not be in control?  It's not like I live in North Korea, right?  My husband and I  moved back East after he finished his degree in order to be close to parents who needed care... but I think I wanted to do that, to get back home. I wasn't abandoning any dream of being somewhere else. At one time, I did feel very ashamed of how long it took from initial dating until finally marrying my husband (8 years), and that it was I waiting on him year after year to propose.... This involved a distinct period of feeling powerlessness at the time, but I pretty much never think about it any more.  And of course I ultimately could have left, but I chose not to do that:  again, not powerless.

My mom had MS, another thing I couldn't control, but it was normal to me and not anything I ever struggled against.  It was hard to witness her decline, so I guess there was a certain powerlessness there, but again, I didn't and don't ruminate on it.

I am overweight, but I don't really feel powerless against that.

I have sometimes felt angry at having anxiety and depression when pretty much all of my friends do not have this complication.

I am quite competitive and it does irk me when I see people who have simply had more fortunate circumstances, but isn't that normal?

I have had complexion issues since the 5th grade, which continue and make me very frustrated because all this was supposed to be OVER by now, dammit!  This problem along with reactions to topical medications that caused redness and peeling did definitely mold my self image and sense of worth. I wore nothing without a crew neckline (except for two strapless formal dresses about which I was very self conscious) until I was 33 and was forced into scoop necklines by the maternity-wear industry.  Anyway, in school I was convinced my complexion was to blame for my obvious invisibility to boys despite my athletic build.  I blamed missing my Junior Prom on this as well.

Even when I did date, pursuing someone who would have rather been left alone but was doomed by his being the first male ever to pay me a compliment, I accepted the role of the one pleading for attention way way way more often than feeling I had any power. Beggars can't be choosers, right?  I went from a first love with whom I was not to admit in public that we were dating and with whom there were to be absolutely no public displays of affection, to someone I loved but was too mentally messed-up to react to properly and who eventually got me to break up with him because he was cheating and wanted out. From there to someone who saw me as a conquest and who never called again after there was no challenge and who enjoyed bragging about that to mutual friends who seemed to coincidentally become distant; then to an embarrassing hook-up with a friend who then also dropped off the map; and finally to a good but very platonic friend who pushed his crush on me to fruition and eventually love and marriage (but not until after cheating and reversing the pursuit so that I was again the one waiting for a decision to be passed upon me).

Now THAT'S a lot of perceived powerlessness, but would it really manifest itself as needing to be "she-who-must-be-obeyed?"   Maybe, I guess. I do still feel knots in my stomach when thinking about these relationships, though that is as things are for me with any past pain, I relive it rather than remember it. It is getting less vivid, but it's taken 20 years and I can still cry over a first love despite now completely understanding the circumstances I was too naive to acknowledge back then.

My Dad always said I was too sensitive, too emotional. I think that it is simply that the first experiences of love seared themselves so strikingly on my brain that they're like the poop stains on white baby onesies---those suckers will never come out completely no matter what you do.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

One Naton ... Indivisable

Wow this scares and saddens me.  There are no atheist patriots?!
What about Buddhist? Hindu? Zoroastrian? Sikh? Native American Religions?
I can't write much because it is already late and I promised I'd get to bed by now, but I just wanted to mention something I experienced in the last day or so.  I got into a "discussion" on Facebook with a friend and her friends over the "under God" part of the Pledge of Allegiance.  Apparently a student somewhere refused to stand for the Pledge as a protest over that and my friend went off on how disrespectful she felt that was and how angry she was about it.  I'll put my responses below, just FYI.  A friend of my friend chimed in that the student and her parents who raised her so badly could/should be shipped off to some other country.

I was just very struck at how differently these people felt and thought from myself.  I guess I spend a lot of my time sort of assuming that I'm in the midst of people who are more tolerant than this.  Our discussion was respectful of each other, but not of the subject, her parents, or actions.  I think part of my quandary is that I am so reluctant to feel certain that I am correct about something.  I always feel like there's some part that I don't understand and try to reserve judgement, which tends to preclude anger.  I don't mean I do this as an intentional gesture of leniency or whatever, I just feel so incompetent about so much that I don't consider myself to be in a position to say anything.  I am learning this is not how everyone feels.  Some are very confident they are correct.

(2014 note: I see here that I used the word Federal in discussing public schools, which are of course state institutions. Oops. Read Federal as Government)

So, initial rant from friend...and a warning that as usual, I'm a bit verbose.  Grab a snack & beverage.
  •  Although, the flag stands for a country where that girl has the right to do that and her parents have the right to teach them to do it. Ironic...

  • Julia K Burzon Actually, I strongly object to social pressure to acquiesce to the "under God" part too. Not sure I have the guts to stand up for it. They may be putting their respect for military sacrifice 2nd to the right to be free of religious coercion in tax-funded institutions, something the sacrifices were made for....
    Reiteration from friend and more vehement agreement from her friend that they are offended and that the action shows disrespect to the flag and those who fought and died for our country.  Assertion that she should stand and just not say the offending words if necessary, but that she must stand or she is disrespecting the flag/country/military/sacrifices of military families, etc.  Invitation for the student & family to relocate.
  • Julia K Burzon Sure, she doesn't have to say it, but she shouldn't, especially as a child, be put in a position of having to appear to be disrespectful in order to boldly object to the inclusion of religious language in a seemingly mandatory group exercise in a Federal institution (vs. not being noticed not saying those two words) either. Burning a Bible, Koran, Torah, Sutra, or whatever seems a lot more extreme than choosing not to stand. I don't think she would be allowed to do that as any kind of protest in a Federal area. (?) What if doing THAT [burning a holy text] were added to the pledge because it was politically advantageous? I'm sure we'd see some vehement sitting then, regardless of the implied disrespect to the military! ha ha or What if the wording were "NOT under any gods" instead? I bet that would achieve the same result and there wouldn't be much arguing about how disrespectful it seems to the military. It seems easier to ask a minority to stand mute while the majority observes its religion as part of such a group exercise.

    Hmmm....I think the problem is the ambiguity of the action of not standing. It can be interpreted as disrespect for the believers of the religion or the military in the case of the pledge, even if the intention is not disrespect, but simply to draw attention to the need for separation of church and state. Wasn't the "under God" part was only added in the 50s (40s?) to further differentiate us from the communists anyway? Why can't it be let go? Why won't it be let go? It shouldn't be there at all. I think it's unconscionable to place a child in the position of having to appear for all practical purposes to endorse a religious statement in a Federal institution. I think some other means of patriotic veneration could easily be substituted for the pledge until the issue is resolved, not that anyone would do that.

    Julia K Burzon Ooooh! Competing soapboxes! :) Sorry. Didn't mean to rant at your rant. I just don't like my kids being in this position either, as I'm not raising them with a religion.
    A different friend added her two cents in a very diplomatic way.
  •  Julia K Burzon So refreshing to have an intelligent, respectful conversation on a touchy topic!
    Concessions that the student does indeed have the right to stand or sit, but given with the caveat that they retain their right to be be offended, which I do not dispute.  But further, insistence that the student IS being disrespectful, i.e. that their interpretation of the student's action is correct and that any other is not really acceptable, or rather that then I guess I am worthy of judgement too.  Maybe that wasn't intended, but that's how I felt.  I felt that by defending the action as acceptable protest that I was rendering myself as worthy of contempt as the protestor and her irresponsible parents.

    Julia K Burzon Please know that I'm not trying to antagonize anyone. I'd written too much twice and deleted the posts. ;) But anyway, my main points were: The principles the US was founded on go back to the Code of Hammurabi and are not only Judeo-Christian. Some of our most prominent forefathers were adamant about not having religion as part of the US government, including Washington, Jefferson, and Hamilton. I think there's evidence that Washington wasn't even a practicing Christian, not that it matters. I keep being told how the US was founded as a Christian nation and it really grates on me because it isn't true.

    I am confused about your interpretation of separation of church and state as not meaning you can't combine the two. Isn't keeping gods out of the government and its institutions is EXACTLY the point? I am curious as to whether you would feel as offended by anyone refusing to stand for if the pledge were worded "one nation under The Prophet Muhhamed, peace be upon him,"? or under Zeus? or Vishnu? This kid isn't paying to go to a religious school of a different subgroup than his/her own. People of all and no religions are paying for the public schools to teach the nation's children reading, math, science, history (i.e. secular subjects). I have no objection to discussion and explanation of religion as part of any of those classes.

    I think you'll find this article in Wikipedia interesting. According to it, students can not be made to stand for the pledge according to the Supreme Court. If this is so, his objection to the wording of the pledge via sitting is his right under the the First Amendment of the constitution the flag represents and for which our relatives and forefathers fought (It's not like I have no connection here, I have relatives going back to the revolution and who fought in at least the War of 1812 [we have his sword---SO COOL!], Civil War, and Korea and maybe more). I disagree that exercising this right shows disrespect, but assert it is merely nonparticipation. Offense is premature. We cannot know he is not venerating the flag and the military that protects our nation in his heart and simply not standing as an objection to under-God thing. Yes, I get that THIS is what offends you. He should stand anyway (and stifle his objection to the unconstitutionality of his situation?). Obviously you have every right to your opinions and feelings. But I question whose place is it to judge this person's quality of anyone's patriotism or to enforce that the only acceptable way to show it is to be part of a public demonstration. I kind of think this kind of issue applies to how Jesus said to pray in private (Matthew 6:6).

    In 1943 the Supreme Court reversed its decision, ruling in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette that public school students are not required to say the Pledge, concluding that "compulsory unification of opinion" violates the First Amendment.[17] <b> In a later opinion, the Court held that students are also not required to stand for the Pledge. </b> [18]

    Requiring or promoting of the Pledge on the part of the government has drawn criticism and legal challenges on several grounds... One objection[19] states that a democratic republic built on freedom of dissent should not require its citizens to pledge allegiance to it, and that <b> the First Amendment to the United States Constitution protects one's right to refrain from speaking or standing (also a form of speech).[18] Another objection lies in the fact that the people who are most likely to recite the Pledge every day, small children in schools, cannot really give their consent or even completely understand the Pledge they are taking. </b>[20]

    The introduction of "under God" in the 1950s was done during the Cold War, as a way to differentiate the U.S. from the concept of communist state atheism.[24]

    The Pledge of Allegiance of the United States is an expression of loyalty to the...See More

    Julia K Burzon @Unnamed Aggressive Friend, I think you're missing the student's/parents point. I'm sure if the pledge were in its original form the kid would stand right up and so would the parents. If the pledge venerated some other god, would you feel standing and reciting all of it but "under Vishnu" or whatever was an acceptable amount of protest when your child had to hear everyone else say it as a group every day? Who are we to judge her patriotism? We don't know what she's thinking. You're really saying that if she doesn't show it in the way you think she should that she should be shipped out?

  • Julia K Burzon You'll like this.

    My friend reiterated that she was entitled to her opinion and that she felt it was disrespectful not to stand, that we would have to agree to disagree and that hers was to be "THE last post" in the thread.  She did acknowledge the girl had the right to sit or not and say the words or not, but again, she felt to sit was to disrespect veterans (at the very least).  Her friend agreed.  I let it go.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

New Page Added! For New Mothers

I just added a new page to the site (see tab upper right).  I've made a basket of all my "go-to" items for new mothers, excepting clothes and bibs.  Enjoy!  And leave comments if you have any questions or suggestions.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Retail Therapy?

My daughter spent most of our observation time (transit of Venus) playing with rocks. I leather bring home 3. Turns out one was really a clod of hard red clay. I didn't check. Today I find her rubbing and pounding the clay on the real seat that is exposed just to the outside of her carseat with one of the other rocks.

Consequently, we are now at the mall and the kids are in childcare for 2 hours to keep me from selling them. I bought myself the black Starbucks mug I've been coveting for 6 months and picked up the Springsteen and Johnny Cash CDs as well. They will be my summer CDs. I also weighed in 5 lbs heavier than I thought I was, hence the belligerent intake of iced lemon pound cake that I am planning with my chai in my shiny new mug. This after eating my AND my DAUGHTER'S medium waffle fries from Chic-fil-A with, count-em, FOUR servings of Chic-fil-A sauce. "Take that!" says my interior teen, angry and appalled at my physical condition and my age and at having to be a caregiver for others than herself. Take that, body. Take that, wallet. Betray me and you'll be sorry. I'll make you sorry.

What a brat she is. I need to put her in her place. I can always return the CDs... But can I resist the pound cake? Uncertain.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

We saw it!

I took the kids to my husband's workplace and was able to view the transit of Venus across the sun with the telescopes of their astronomy club! It was very cloudy, but we were lucky enough to get a couple of breaks in the clouds. I was even able to take some photos with my iPad and then post them immediately to Facebook. Technology is so cool! What a time we live in!

New Page Coming Soon!

I am working on a new page of information for new mothers, putting down my favorite products and techniques for survival.  Check back soon!

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Where is Julie?

Sorry to be skimping on the blog lately. I've been working hard on my illustration project and apparently don't have enough oomph to do both consistently. I'll work on that. The key to getting into the illustration seemed to be hanging a good carrot. A friend had asked me to watch the TV series Jericho because it sounded like something I'd like and she had no one to talk to about it and it was driving her crazy. SO, I decided I was only allowed to watch it if I was or had just finished working on my project. Success! Problem is I'm burning through it too fast. What will I use to replace it when I'm done? Suggestions?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Taking the Bridge
Counseling appointment today: I need to attack my illustration-block the same way a bridge-phobic conquers going over the Bay Bridge. I need to suffuse myself in it. That means going back to Freshman Chemistry (where my to-be-boyfriend-husband carried me down the stairs to our freshman basement study lounge against my will and locked me down there with my materials because I was procrastinating studying so badly).

I have my desk clear. All I have to do is commence, starting tonight. I will touch the project EVERY day until it is done. I will enlist my husband in propelling me to the desk each night. I don't like it but trying to deal with it as usual is not working. I am to be very soothing and talk comfortingly to myself to get past the initial anxiety, which is what I have been avoiding. Once I am started I do fine. Once it is part of a routine I'll progress rapidly, I think.

Also I need to lower my caffeine intake so that I will stop staying up until 3:00AM reading and eating frozen raspberries with sugar.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Social Media & Loneliness
Today's Diane Rehm Show (2nd hour) is a discussion of the role of social media in the so-called US "epidemic" of loneliness. I am listening to it and typing as I go, noting some of the main points. The premise asks why we are expecting more of technology and less from personal contact in this time of social media (Facebook, Twitter, text messaging).

I'm hearing arguments, said to be supported by studies, on both sides: social media help users be more social vs. it makes users less social. Mainly they're talking about Facebook (FB); they said 40% of Americans have a FB page.

The view that seems correct to me is that you get out of it what you get into it. Most people interact intensely with a few people and then more weakly with the rest of your FB "friends". Yes, that rings true for me. Here's a new acronym for you: FEOMO = Fear Of Missing Out. This refers to how we're always "on" and always performing, when using social media. It is more pervasive if you use a art phone and are then constantly plugged into social media.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Two Father's Days Instead

I had comments and replies with a good friend over my school fundraising rant and got to talk with her and one of the main powers behind my daughter's Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) today.  Boy did I feel like a jerk.  Although, actually, I kind of expected to have more people rake me over the coals, I do have some teacher friends.  Maybe they're too angry.   I got the teacher appreciation week thing cleared-up, my daughter was to bring an item each day for her homeroom teacher and whatever special she had for that day, so two items, not seven.  BIG difference.  I wonder why I just assumed that my understanding, though it seemed over the top to me, was correct?  It's not like I couldn't've called my friend to check.... I just jumped straight to feeling put out.  I guess I feel so out of step with regular non-narcissistic moms that I can't judge what's a realistic expectation of parental participation.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Procrastination Continues...
It's late Thursday night and I still haven't cleared the Christmas ornaments off my big desk downstairs so I have a dedicated work surface for my illustration.  I didn't get even remotely close to considering tackling that today.  I was supposed to give a nature walk today for the Mothers Of Preschoolers (MOPS) group I have been a member of for some six years now.  Nobody showed.  This was actually OK because I couldn't bring myself to go there ahead of time or prepare (knowing there were no real acceptances on the evite) yesterday.  I could've winged it without too much stress and elected to do that if necessary.  Last night I fell asleep on the floor next to my son's mattress  (we trundle his crib mattress under his sister's bed; neither likes to sleep alone) and didn't wake to take my meds until  3:30AM or so.  Then I had trouble falling back asleep.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Cutting Through

JB. 2012. Chalk Pastel: Prefrontal cortex plants paper bag over
raging & luminous inner self. Inner self fights for release.

Monday, May 7, 2012

And Then Again...Every X Is Sacred...
Boy was I in a terrible mood when last I ranted at you. I really did feel that way though, and likely would again if I reread it now, but now I also feel a good bit chagrined because I am pretty sure that I probably really offended some friends of mine who then may not return to read this post. Sigh.

I went without really giving weight to the "well DUH" side, except to chastise myself as a hypocrite. I was all about my own individual self who wanted no additional requirements at the expense of the individuals who would be the recipients of the gap between what is budgeted for public schools and what is needed to give the level of instruction students really deserve and that we expect. How convenient.

Not to excuse this, but it occurred to me this afternoon that there is an unexpected link between this subject and my former work life in wildlife management.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

LONG RANT: Really? Am I that selfish? Sigh. Yep.
I can sum up this post in two words:

I suck.

First, I am having a problem with my emotions not agreeing to be OK with the decisions made by my executive functions.

Saturday was my day off for years. But this spring my daughter is doing soccer. My husband is coaching. He is an excellent father. They have games on Saturday mornings. This means that I need to watch my three-year-old son and we should obviously attend the games and cheer our team. Fine. I say that's OK and agreed that Sunday could be my morning to sleep in. Fine. I really am intellectually OK with this. It's completely fair. Well, my emotional self is not. She is resentful and annoyed and sulky. When it means she has to get up early, she is angry. She resents the intrusion into the pattern that she was happy with. I don't like her. I try to reject these emotions but that is not making them go away.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Why Do I Keep Choosing The Short-term Payoff?

It's looking like I need to rein in my petulant inner teenager.  I was really a pretty good teen at the time, no major rebellions or anything.  But now, I am finding that the force that kept me alive during the worst of my anxiety and depression is not terribly willing to be relegated to the role of passenger after having that taste of being the driver.

It seems like in almost every situation of short-term vs. long-term gain, the short-term gain is chosen even before things are really thought through.  The teenager, in league with my lizard brain, pounces on any present comfort, completely disregarding the effect of this choice on future outcomes.  For this reason, for example, I am having a terrible time working on the illustration project I've promised to do because I have to get my stuff together, find a clear place or clear a place, and print out some pictures before starting.  This is all too much for me to make myself do, apparently... so far.  Which is, of course, ridiculous.  In short, my Christmas tree ornaments are scattered all over my big desk and I have been unwilling to deal with putting them away in order to get started.  That and printing out the pictures involves my bringing my laptop downstairs and plugging it into the printer.  It sounds so ridiculous!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

There Are No Original Stories, Really

I have now finished reading all of Stephanie Meyer's novels, including The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner and The Host. The main thing these seem to have in common with The Hunger Games trilogy is that the pacing is set by having almost every event that develops the plot be a life or death choice.

I've been thinking some about characters of my own. I really feel like I could write something like these if I could come up with a premise that would generate that kind of plot development. Something where all the events lead to development of the self while also being choices that are crucial to maintaining the life of the character.

That is the hard part. The premise. THG has the main character's survival dependent on her own resourcefulness. Then she becomes the involuntary symbol of the resistance against the government where she is suddenly responsible for the lives and deaths of many many people. In the Twilight novels the main character, a master predator, falls in love with a prey item that is specifically and uniquely extra-attractive to him alone. In The Host, human lives are at stake when they are captured to become hosts for a parasite species that takes over their body and consciousness. Then the parasite protagonist's life is in danger from the strength of her host's resistance and later from the group of humans she joins. Then there are also love interests and angst and joy and pain from these added into the mix. This is why these novels fly off the shelves.

So now to come up with a premise that I can use my strengths to create...something that is not vampires, werewolves, post-apocalyptic gladiator matches, or alien bodysnatchers. What does that leave us? Hmmmm...

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Tell Me More (NPR) Twitter Poetry

I enjoy listening to NPR's Tell Me More with Michel Martin. They are doing a fun segment on tweet-sized poetry. You can send them your own poems by adding the hash tag #TMMPoetry

Here are a few I cranked out yesterday:

Perfect love in books, on screens.
Beautiful people, happy endings.
I crunch my ice. #TMMPoetry

My love, not a supermodel, is everything else.
I am also imperfect, unacceptably so to myself.
How amazing, what he overlooks! #tmmpoetry

Green light shines on childhood from through pines.
I relive the sounds, scents, the raucousness of play; watching from my car. #tmmpoetry

The novel ended, friends trapped within.
I miss your lives, thoughts, hearts. Author, don't leave me here. Write another! #TMMPoetry

Friday, April 20, 2012

Where have I been?!

Just a quick note to let you know that I'm OK. It's been a week and a half or so since I've posted. I decided after enjoying The Hunger Games trilogy so much, I decided that I was not above reading the Twilight series, which I'd been holding-out on out of sheer age-ist snobbery.

They were so much fun! I did little else but read them this week. (I've had a problem with reading to the exclusion of all else since I was a kid. I hadn't done that though since high school, until the past few weeks.)

I thoroughly enjoyed reading the series and now am in mourning over having reached the end. I may need to read them again to see if I missed things while inhaling them this week.

Also, last week I started Saturday archery lessons, which will go on for 5 weeks. I like it, though I have a little trouble with tremor making my aim shaky (side effect of Cymbalta).

My last competing project is that I have agreed to illustrate a children's book, so expect some pieces on procrastination.

Thank you to those who were concerned about my disappearance. Hopefully I will get back to some kind of normal routine soon.

Friday, April 13, 2012


So I've really slacked in the blogging department this week. It wasn't a bad week though. Nothing like the week before, that's for sure.

I'm still not completely sure why Friday's movie date with a new friend snapped me out of my malaise the way it did, but it lasted all week.

I'm sort of slowly getting my Hunger Games mania out of my system. This is not to say that I didn't just sing-up for archery lessons that start Saturday, or that I didn't spend $11 at Sephora for Cinna-reminiscent gold liquid eyeliner that I am just thrilled with.... But the feeling of urgency about the whole thing is really abating. This is good.

To snap myself out of it, I (gasp!) picked up a copy of Twilight. I KNOW. So we'll see what all the hype was about, now that I'm over the illusion that I'm somehow above being rabid about teen fiction. I've also become a big fan of the My Little Pony, The Magic of Friendship, TV show. It's streaming on Netflicks now and my daughter was watching it. It's apparently done by the makers of The Power Puff Girls animated TV show, if you're familiar with that. It's very cute and really very entertaining, even for adults. My daughter and I have really enjoyed watching it together this week. Lots of fun.

I have still found myself unreasonably cranky, especially with my daughter, and especially in the late afternoon, a few days this week. But I also know that this week I destroyed being caught up on sleep as I was by last Friday.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Body Art

Saturday, April 7, 2012


After going to the movies with my neighbor last night I felt more well and just human, than I have felt in weeks. I felt like myself, and it was like having a sudden intrusive memory stirred by a scent from your past. I didn't remember how it felt until I felt it. Like waking from a dream, the past week felt less than real even though at the time I had been completely convinced that was my world.

I was over-caffeinated and between that, ill-sitting overly-buttered and salted movie popcorn, my son waking and crawling into my bed, a late and
Loudly singing mockingbird, and my snoring husband, it was 6AM or so before I fell asleep. Luckily there was no soccer game and I got to sleep in, so I don't feel too awful.

The clarity has lasted through today. I'll take it.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Julie Makes A Friend

I was listening to The Diane Rehm show last night where she interviewed the author of The Midday Demon--An Atlas of Depression. He did such an excellent job of describing what it feels like to be down in the pit. I remember him saying he would be faced with brushing his teeth and would feel like like how was he ever going to be able to brush all of his teeth, that it was just too much.

He also talked about the importance of having a support network, i.e. friends. I have the girls in my group who I only see twice a month, one who used to be my neighbor who I don't see too much, a fee other neighbors I see occasionally, and my old friends from other locations that I pretty much only see on Facebook. I have spent this entire week of spring break with both kids by myself, with the exception of one day a neighbor watched my daughter while I was at a doctor's appointment and which playdate ended up spanning the whole afternoon--which was very unusual actually.

Our new neighbor seems like a promising possible friend.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Parenting Fail

Google said from Etsy but Etsy said didn't exist.
I did not function today.  Well, hardly.  I seemed to sleep OK.  I took only 1 Ativan to ensure sleep the night before, but like yesterday, after waking when my husband left and the kids were awake, they went down to the basement to watch TV (just for a while, I thought to myself) and I fell back asleep.  Then it was noon.  It was so quiet and peaceful in my room.  My daughter is old enough to get them cereal or granola bars or drinks if they want them.  My son is old enough to go potty by himself.  I have hit the light at the end of the tunnel, some would think.  I treasured the peace around me too dearly to drag myself from there to sibling rivalry, whining, and all the untouched tasks of the day.  Then it was some time later.  I checked on the kids, who were fine.  We watched a Strawberry Shortcake together and then I went upstairs and made them both a good healthy lunch.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Wordless Wednessday: Poplar

Too Much Dreaming

Yes, he showed up this morning at my parents' old house with an assistant, both bearing sheaves of roses with sword-length stems. I think he looks like the guy who played Seneca Crane in The Hunger Games, only without the funky beard. My mom was home too. That's all I remember.

I took 2 Ativan to be sure to sleep last night. In the morning the kids went downstairs to watch TV. I fell back asleep without really rousing until after noon. Not OK. They were fine, just watched too much tv and ate some cookies, but definitely not OK. We all got dressed, grabbed lunch at Chic-fil-A and drove out to Robinson Nature Center in Howard County, MD. It was a beautiful afternoon. My husband met us there and we walked the trails and climbed the rocks down next to the stream. The kids loved it and it was good for me too. I kept looking for climbable trees and wondering how or if Katniss could've claimed these trees. They were all inner forest trees, long and limbless and around 50' high. I could never get up there without some equipment. Maybe if I were18 and emaciated, but I'm not sure even then.

Real Life is Over-rated

Bored Border Collie.  Watch out!
My three-year-old son is always making-up games to play with found objects. I don't know why we even buy him toys. He's explaining "skip-the-rock" to me right now, which involves tossing water bottle caps and the larger rocks from gravel near the playground.

He is so beautiful. So far the beauty of my children has been my greatest contribution to humanity and the one over which I've had the least control. He's still explaining, and so serious.

Saw my shrink today.  Told her about the fiction obsession, crush, and suicidal shower experience.  "More exercise, more sleep, and more real life," she prescribed, and a blood test to check my TSH. She thinks I'm bored and that, like a border collie locked in a small apartment, my mind is just getting into all sorts of trouble. She's probably right. 

Sunday, April 1, 2012

An April Fool Over The Boy With The Bread

The Hunger Games Promo Photo
This thing that has been bothering me since I saw The Hunger Games came to a head this afternoon.  It is real but also petty and stupid and embarrassing.  Backstory:  It's no secret that my husband has never been "my type" in terms of looks.  He and I have always known that.  If I were to ogle, targets would be tallish, not overly-hairy guys with straight hair, either very fit or thin and bookish.  Neck distinct from head.  Freckles would be ideal, I love freckles.  And, up until now, always brunette.  So here's the thing, I have never had a crush on a movie star or musician, not even when I was a teen.  I'd actually always been a bit proud of this and my practicality.  Then I saw the trailer for The Hunger Games which made me want to read the books and I was so moved by the character of Peeta in the books.  Then I saw movie and thought Josh Hutcherson was amazingly well cast in it.  He looked almost exactly as I imagined Peeta to look.  In the story his character is this ideal person who would never really exist.  Even the heroine is told she could live a hundred lifetimes and never deserve him.  I was just struck by how beautiful this guy is in this role.  His face is a strange combination of  a very pronounced jawline with still very boyish features.  Yeah, so huge crush.  Very embarrassing for a married girl.

If I Could Climb

I want to climb a tree and find myself swaying in the uppermost branches, light and lean and sinewy.  My sick stomach and my unworthiness, fear, and shame circle and lay in wait for my descent.  Thankfully, the twisting, fluttering, baby new flags of leaves are a curtain, a cloak, a hiding place.

The character I imitate is fiction.  Her life, her world, her love, her fate.  I am not.  My heavy, draping form is nothing like her starved skeletal frame, yet I too know how to be hungry.   I have had "hollow days."  I too "am not really even that pretty."  I could be her ancestor, in theory.

No.  Why do I have to be real?  She is someone else's thought-up creation.  If I had complete license to render I would have written me so much better.  I know the birds and their songs, the plants and their names.  What good does it do me?  There is no application save knowing.  I have taken warm, pulsing life with my bare hands because it needed to be done.  I could survive without this modern world if it weren't for the venom in my head.

We sway in the new spring breeze, the trees and I, high over a quilted blanket of leaves.  Oh, if only the real flesh of my thick body could be in such a place and bend and dance with the wind.  Then the sun would shine and my tears would sparkle as they plunge down through the branches.

Saturday, March 31, 2012

Self-hating Saturday

When I played a sport or worked toward a degree I remember being told that one has to do it for oneself, not for someone else. It's logical then to conclude that it is unacceptable to be living for someone else and not for yourself.

Friday, March 30, 2012


 OK, this is just a rambling, somewhat incoherent stream of consciousness that is probably not worth reading.  I'm not going to re-read it tonight anyway.  But it's what I've got.  It's probably whiny.  I won't feel bad if you don't read it.

I just finished reading The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay (by Suzanne Collins) for the second time.  I didn't get enough sleep last night and spent a lot of time crying today, mirror neurons in overdrive, mourning the corruption of perfect love in one character.  I felt so stupid for being so affected by a person, a character, that's not even real.  But I was also crying for other reasons, I think.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Post-movie Let Down

I enjoyed my alone time watching the IMAX Hunger Games movie here in Columbia, MD. It was a good movie. Of course, I wanted to see so much more than made it into the finished film. I left feeling old, fat, and out-of-shape. I can, and really do need to do something about that. Then I went to Starbucks and had a chai and a piece of pumpkin bread, which seemed like extreme indulgence after life in District 12 or trying to stay alive while being hunted in the woods.

I did some people-watching, with the old fashioned school fire alarm bell and organ music of the mall carousel leaking in through the open entrance of the store. Everyone seems to be so beautiful in their own way. It's weird. They all seem precious somehow,

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Sleepless in Crofton
I have been having trouble sleeping lately.  If I wait too long to go to sleep, my husband falls asleep first and snores continually.  Not loudly, but enough that I can't go to sleep, so I go sleep on the comfy couch downstairs. Because of this, I've had heartburn since Monday (my bed is jacked up at the head end to combat my acid reflux).  It's late so I need to try to get to sleep now.

But, I just wanted to mention that last night I was down on the couch trying to think of a book plot idea that I hadn't read or seen done already.  Really tough to do!  There was an interview on WHYY's Fresh Air by the author of a new book on creativity and how it works.  Turns out, as I think we mostly knew, that you are the most creative when you are relaxed.  Bonus: being depressed helps too!  Anyway, I finally had an idea, then today I haven't been able to remember it.  Sigh.  Maybe I'll dream about it tonight.

Wordless Wednesday: Being Obsessed is Annoying

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

I'm not anal, I'm detail-oriented.

Why have I found only ONE other person in the entire internet who has questioned why The Hunger Games' mockingjay token used on the cover art and movie has an arrow?! There is no arrow in any of the descriptions of the pin or mockingjay symbol in any of the books.  Also, the jay is only supposed to be held to the circle by its wingtips, vs. wingtips, tail, and arrow.  The Hunger Games' cover art could be incorporating the arrow because it's a better design choice or makes a more stable brooch in actuality or to represent Katniss in particular or whatever, I don't care.  But I'd think some teenage rabid fan would be ranting about this discrepancy.

I don't want/need it changed. I just want to see it acknowledged! Arrghh!

Get thee to a spa! Julie turns 40.

I turned 40 today.  It's kind of freaking me out.  Still, it was a good day.  My kids gave me that book by William J. Broad, The Science of Yoga, and a Tardis cookie jar (which is just awesome because it makes that whooshing sound every time you get a cookie, so it's alarmed to foil the kiddies), and my husband gave me a 3-treatment package day at a local spa.  Whee!

Julie's Top 10 Take-home Points on the Spa Experience

1.  You know you need relaxation when you are stressing out during the drive to your spa treatment because you don't know what it will be like or if you'll relax enough or do things right, etc.  I did this today and my husband laughed at me.  This happens a lot.  One of the strengths of our marriage is that he finds me amusing.

2.  Going to a good spa is something you must do before you die.  My birthday present today included

Sunday, March 18, 2012

"And I'm going to be 40....some day!"*
I have made it to the night before my 40th birthday.
The kids are asleep, and my husband is asleep in there with them.
The dog is eating dinner. <crunch crunch slurp slurp crunch>

I am cross-legged on my bed with my laptop, an old teddy bear of mine, my sleeping/snuggling blanket (that my mom gave me) and a white furry bunny "tummy time" blanket that looks like a bear rug only it's a bunny.  I couldn't bear to give it away.  (Story forthcoming.)

If you are in the habit of checking here, you have noticed that I was not writing much this past week or two.  I've not been functioning all that highly.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Such a fat-assed waste + UPDATED: Wise Woman

I wrote this entry on March 16, 2012.  Today is the 18th.  I am going to go through this and write in responses that I imagine come from the "wise woman" within me.  (These will be in blue italics.)  This is a technique that my group therapist came up with, herself.  To me, I imagine my wise woman to be myself, only older, perhaps at the end of my life, with all the wisdom of having lived through the life I am struggling with right now.  The key is not to give advice, but to be accepting and present with the feelings of your present self, to soothe and comfort yourself as you might a good friend or young child.  I find it comforting to do.  This can also be done with drawings, where you draw one drawing about something you are struggling with.  Then with a different color or pen or whatever, you see what the wise woman would add or change about the picture.  It can be very interesting.

I have been upset this evening about turning 40 on Monday (I can see how that might be an intimidating milestone for you) and not being able to feel acceptable. (That must have been pretty rough, huh?) My husband took the day off (How nice of him!) and I stayed in bed until 4 or so as if it were a Saturday. (Maybe he felt good to be able to give you some extra rest.) 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I had a breakthrough today at my counseling session. I made some connections that I had not realized before, regarding 2 of my issues: the napping-in-the-car-thing and my negative feelings about growing-up.

I was telling my counselor how in my group session last night we had decided that the nap-thing was not necessarily all about sleep, but more about feeling safe.  I feel safe in my car, lying back and passively listening to the radio or music or sometimes just the wind and birds.   I get to feeling safe and soothed and then sleep follows. Today I realized that when asked the last time i felt safe, my brain goes first to a prominent memory of taking a nap in my bedroom in South Carolina in 1975 or so.

Monday, March 12, 2012

The Hunger Games

I picked up a paperback copy of The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins today and was able to do nothing else until I finished it a moment ago.  It was completely consuming.  There were no lags, no slow patches, it was riveting from start to finish.  I just saw the trailer for the motion picture version on Friday when we went to see John Carter.  Now I definitely need to see this.  I'm a sucker for a post-apocalyptic survival story, and this ranks up there with The Stand for me (Stephen King) although obviously not quite on such an epic scale.  Though it looks like there are two other books, so I'll be looking for them soon.  Maybe not tomorrow, as I probably need to get something done for the household.

I ate this weekend like there was no tomorrow.  This has got to stop.  Maybe the survival side of this can inspire me to be more fit?  We'll see.  Off to bed now.  Tomorrow morning is going to seem awfully early.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Public Service Announcement: DST Starts Today. Hide!

Don't forget to have someone else set all your clocks ahead an hour if you are in the US.  Then hide under the covers until Tuesday.  All those not living with this insanity, carry on.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Just a Touch of Social Phobia

Composite from Lowell's book Mars as the Abode of
Life as per
As when I have read other engrossing works of science fiction, I am utterly amazed at the human imagination after seeing the movie John Carter.  According to my husband, this movie stems from a novel written in 1912.  I have not read it, so I don't know how much what was portrayed in the movie is artistic license and how much was from the original novel, but still, given the state of knowledge about the planet Mars at that time and the perception that the lines seen on the planet in telescopes might be great canals of lost or existing civilizations and how the author just took that and ran with it is just astonishingly impressive to me.  Moving cities, solar-powered flying machines, organic-seeming machines powered by some "9th ray" of the sun, the management of civilizations by another species with technology more advanced than we have even now...  I wonder if my mind could be as fertile.  So far it has not, but creating fiction has not yet become a passion, nor might it ever.  Who knows?

Anyway, what follows are some of my thoughts from earlier in the day,

Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Bucket Full of Holes

Forest Encounter
As the white noise of the warm wind, blowing in strong gusts through the treetops, wafts through my open window, it is sprinkled with silvery dimes of sound from my bedragled backyard wind chimes.  A lone spring peeper chirps to itself, although I may be able to hear a faint chorus behind it when the wind dies down... yes, I think so.  They must be down the block, further in the common forested area of our townhouse development.  Yes, there they are.  They are a bit early this year it seems, but as you may know if you're from around here, we've had an unusually warm winter and March came in like a lamb wrapped in cotton.  It was in the mid 70s (F) here today.  We have daffodils already.  It's ridiculous.

That aside, I do have a serious purpose here:  confession.

Wordless Wednesday: Crystal Renn

(Although apparently now she's lost weight again and people are upset!)

Monday, March 5, 2012

Sometimes I am rude.
"I haffa go potty!  I haffa go potty!" my son says loudly in Friendly's Restaurant tonight.  "OK, let's go."  My husband whisks him off to the men's room  My daughter is coloring and hedging in on my territory again.  She likes to sit as close to me as possible, leaning on me if she can, while sticking both elbows out away from her when we sit together in a booth.  It drives me crazy.  I think it must be because when I was growing up we each had individual swivel chairs (four) around a table so that there was only one person to a side and no chance of touching.  When I am in a place to eat, I have discovered that I do not like to be leaned on, snuggled, climbed over, or to have a small head thrust up under my elbow and arm as if my child were an anxious dog.  My daughter is unable to sit next to me and not do all of these things in the course of dinner.  I've tried to explain to her that I love her very much but that mommy just needs some space when she eats, but it has yet to stick.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Pigs, Rainbows, and the Invisible Gun

I don't really want to write tonight.  My molar hurts and I don't know if it's one of the ones I know needs to be worked-on or not.  I refuse to deal with it or acknowledge it.  I want to stay lying on my stomach in my daughter's pinkly-lit room on her bed, next to her, with my little son on the makeshift trundle on my right.  I want to lie with the beginning chapters of Charlotte's Web on my mind, dimly remembering playing on and under the unfinished basement steps of my childhood, pretending to be Templeton, the rat, after watching the cartoon special.  In those days, you could see between the steps and children could play in the space under them, in the

Friday, March 2, 2012

It's only money.
Yesterday (Thursday) was dentist day at my house (coincidentially, and more humorously, Glennon of the Momastery blog had her kids at the dentist yesterday too).  I scheduled all four of us to come in as successive appointments.  My three-year-old had his teeth looked at for the first time. No cavities. My husband never has cavities. I have decay on two teeth: one will require a crown replacement, the other they can do as a filling, they think. So there's a few thousand dollars to find.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: A February Moon's Halo

NASA Astronomy Picture of the Day Feb 11, 2012

Vomiting meds is not helpful.

Getty Images
I am assuming that I am feeling the fall-out from being so sick Sunday night and having vomited my meds and effectively skipped them for a night.  I took it easy Monday and didn't judge myself too harshly for it.  But yesterday was not good.  My husband got my daughter to school and I got my son off to daycare.  As usual, he did not want me to leave him there and he clung to me.  Luckily, a teacher was able to entice him to play soccer and he gave me three kisses goodbye and I was able to leave the playground without a scene.  As soon as I walked back into his classroom (I had to go back through the building to get out) the tears started.  I looked out the window and saw all the kids playing and the grown-ups taking care of them and wished that I could go out and be one of them. 

Monday, February 27, 2012


It was like the song of the whos in How The Grinch Stole Christmas, "it started in low, then it started to grow."  A visit from my father-in-law interrupted our usual Sunday routine of going out for breakfast (and chai) before starting the day.  Instead, we all ate some kind of snack at home while my husband did his best to facilitate my actually putting away the pile of Christmas decorations that were heaped upon the table-like top of our piano.  For some reason, instead of being pleased with his help and getting those finally put away, I was more annoyed at his father for coming down and making me deal with the fact that it was nearly March and I hadn't gotten them put away yet.  Don't even ask about the tree.  It's still in the basement.  Every week I say, maybe this week we'll get that down, and then we (I) don't.  We decided Pop-pop was just not going to be allowed down in there.

Friday, February 24, 2012

No blog tonight

I've been fighting with my laptop all day and we are not on speaking terms. Will try again tomorrow. Slow, deep breaths...

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Wordless Wednesday: Power

Photo from

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My Lizard Brain Loves Chic-fil-A Sauce and Naps

First, let us establish that both Chic-fil-A sauce and Dr. Pepper are made with crack.  (No, this is not a comment about Whitney Houston.)  I am just so terribly hooked on having waffle fries with Chic-fil-A sauce that I think it is going to be a real problem with regard to weight loss.  I had a large fry with sauce for breakfast/lunch and a medium Dr. Pepper.  Then my daughter insisted that what she wanted most in the world for her "girl time" after school snack (my son was in daycare) was to go to Chic-fil-A.  Being the ever-dutiful mother, after some grousing about not spending more money there (I am such a hypocrite), we went and sat in the two-person table just like she wanted.  And I had another small fry with sauce and a medium Dr. Pepper.

Monday, February 20, 2012

LEED Let-down

Today I stepped on the scale and saw that I've gained 10lbs since before the Holidays.  So instead of the pancakes that I wanted for breakfast, I ordered eggs instead.  I shouldn't have eaten my toast but I did (my husband's regimen that I try to follow loosely has him eating no non-vegetable carbs during the week except on Saturdays, when he can have whatever he wants.  Trying to do it strictly stressed me out, which I don't need, so I've been more lenient.  Since the Holidays though, I've been exhibiting no control over eating whatsoever and there's been a lot of ice cream and soda.)

After breakfast we and the kids visited a nature center near where my husband works.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Too Sensitive on Saturday

Found at
It is Saturday.  I usually sleep in and my husband and kids bring me breakfast.  Today I slept, woke, meditated a bit on who I am, who I was, who I've become.  Then they came home and I enjoyed my donuts and chai.  I checked Facebook and the stats for this blog and listened to the end of Metro Connection on WAMU (NPR).  My husband informs me that he isn't going to tell me what to do, but that sitting in bed on a day like this was stupid.  My daughter says, "I wouldn't want to sit around like you, Mom."  I can see the strangely warm February sunshine lighting the trunks of the trees in the wooded common area that fills my window.  The Splendid Table has begun.  They are talking about oysters.  Husband is driving the kids out to Bell Branch Park.  Do I want them to return to take me to lunch, er, dinner?  Yes, please.