Racing Hearts

I have a lot going on today. I finally got our stuff together to get our taxes done.  We need that money to get new windows and a new driveway.  Next week a sales rep comes to give us an estimate on the cost of the new windows, and we’d probably like to get a new front door too.  (Something a little more energy-efficient that doesn’t require 2 keys to unlock.)  I panicked when I couldn’t find a way to get through to Caesar’s Palace to get their tax ID number until I noticed it was on the slip they gave me with my winnings.  Well, duh.  And I can’t find any records of our tax rebate check last year.  I have to assume it was $1800 but I’m not sure.  Oh yeah, and last year’s tax forms would be a good thing to bring with me, wouldn’t they?  (Now where did I leave those…?)

I’m going to the VFRW editor/agent panel in the afternoon.  I’m afraid the query I sent in January is going to get ripped to shreds because I rewrote it after I got a request for a partial, and the new query is a lot better.  At least, I’d like to think it is.  I haven’t sent it anywhere yet.  Hopefully I’ll learn enough at the seminar to get a good idea of what works and what doesn’t.  The problem is that I fret too much about having a query that will catch an agent’s/editor’s attention, or a synopsis that will bowl someone over, when it should really be about having a terrific story.  The problem with that is, if the query and the synopsis aren’t good, that’s two strikes against the story before anyone even lays eyes on it.  Ryan Howard hits better on an 0-2 count; I hope I can do the same.

After that, John’s bringing the boys to where the seminar is, and I’m driving them to NJ for their visitation weekend.  The weekend is mostly open after that, except for some minor housework I want to get done.  But just to get to that point, my heart is racing.  Too much to think about all at once. 

How do you eat an elephant?  One bite at a time.

Numb

The right side of my face is numb.  I didn’t know when I went to get my crown put in this morning that she’d be doing a filling too.  It’s probably better this way, or I’d have gotten nervous over it.  It seems I needed an extra dose of novocaine, though, because at one point the cold air from the drill made me, let’s just say, a little uncomfortable.  All seems to be okay now, except it’s almost lunchtime and I still can’t feel my nose or my lips.  Since I don’t want to chew half my face off, I may have to put off lunch for a while. 

I had a debate with a friend of mine about a career in writing.  Lately we’ve both been feeling discouraged and we both said we gave a lot of thought to quitting writing.  As it turns out, we both started new projects on the same day.  Quitting?  What’s that?  🙂  It’s disheartening to write for an audience of one, but what choices do we have?  I even have one project I need to edit and another I want to finish, but this newest one would not leave me alone.  I’m kind of glad, because I like it.  It’s a totally different direction and it’s not even remotely romance, so we’ll have to see where it takes me. 

Dr. Sara said the plant I brought her as a thank-you (a white gardenia) bloomed once and the bloom was so fragrant that it made the whole waiting room smell nice.  She said there are lots more blooms ready to open, and she can’t wait to find out how that will smell.  I guess I did one good thing. 

Baby that I am, I’m wondering, when I finally get the feeling back in my face, is it going to turn out that this thing hurts?  Eeek…

Still Here

Today I seem to be at even keel again.  I suppose that’s a good thing; I’m neither so far down in the dumps that I’d need a backhoe to see daylight again, nor so high that I would show up on NORAD radar.  It’s kinda boring but I’ll take it.

I’m tempted to “borrow” more bad jokes, but I’m afraid one of these days I’m going to tick someone off.  I do give credit where credit is due, but not everyone likes to have their info posted on a stranger’s blog.  Or sometimes even a friend’s.  ‘Nuf said.

So rather than risk offending someone, I thought I’d share my latest UFO (unfinished object, a phrase usually used in reference to crafts, as opposed to WIP, which means “work in progress”, a phrase that refers to unfinished writing projects;  procrastinators unite!…one of these days).  I love that this works up so fast, but more than that, I love that I can use this on my overflowing yarn stash to try to put some of it to use.  I unraveled (frogged) two started-but-never-finished afghans to incorporate the yarn into this project, and I love how it’s coming out.  It’s in purple, brown, and a variegated that has purple and brown in it.  I made it a few stitches wider than the pattern says by adding multiples of 3 to the 67 chain stitches it starts with.  It stinks when you roll over and find parts exposed to the cool air when you’re trying to get warm.   I have about 3 feet of it done already and I curled up under it last night while watching a movie, and let me tell you, it is COZY.

Pattern courtesy of LionBrand.com:

5 1/2 hour Afghan
5 1/2 hour Afghan

5 1/2 Hour Throw

Lion Brand® Vanna’s Choice®

GAUGE:

3 V-sts + 4 rows = 6 in. (15 cm) in pattern with 3 strands of yarn held together. BE SURE TO CHECK YOUR GAUGE. When you match the gauge in a pattern, your project will be the size specified in the pattern and the materials specified in the pattern will be sufficient. If it takes you fewer stitches and rows to make a 4 in. [10 cm] square, try using a smaller size hook or needles; if more stitches and rows, try a larger size hook or needles.

NOTES:

Throw is worked with 1 strand of each color yarn held together.

THROW
With 1 strand each of A, B and C held together, ch 67.
Row 1: Dc in 5th ch from hook, ch 1, dc in same ch (V-st made), *sk 2 ch, (dc, ch 1, dc) in next ch (V-st made); repeat from * to last 2 ch, sk 1 ch, dc in last ch.
Rows 2–39: Ch 3, turn, (dc, ch 1, dc) in each ch-1 space across, dc in 3rd ch of turning ch.
Fasten off.

FINISHING
Side Edging
From Right Side, work 1 row of single crochet evenly spaced on side edge of Throw. Repeat on opposite side edge.
Weave in ends.

Fringe
Wrap yarn around cardboard. Cut strands at one end. For each Fringe, hold 3 strands of each yarn (9 strands total) together and fold in half. Use crochet hook to draw fold through edge of piece, forming a loop. Pull ends of Fringe through this loop and tighten. Make Fringe along both ends of Throw. Trim fringe evenly.

 

Outright Theft

I’m still not quite out of my blue funk yet, but rather than turn this into the most depressing blog ever, I thought I’d “borrow” some jokes from comedian Sean Morey.  He has adult jokes on his website, too, but for safety’s sake, I’m borrowing the kids’ jokes.  (I’ve told some of these to Ryan on multiple occasions, and if I time it just right, I can make him snort whatever he’s drinking.  Also a hit at family parties because no one gets embarrassed.)

What do they call a polar bear in the Carribean?
Lost.

Why did the sick wasp cross the road?
To get to the waspital.

What time is it when it is time to go to the dentist?
Tooth Hurty.

Why did the duck cross the road?
The chicken was on vacation.

Where do otters come from?
Otter Space.

Why did the chicken cross the playground?
To get to the other slide.

Where do sheep get a hair cut?
The baa-baa shop.

Why do watch dogs run in circles?
To wind themselves up.

How do you make a kleenex dance?
You put a little boogie in it.

What’s hiccup’s favorite color?
Burple.

What do you call two ducks in a box?
A box of quackers.

Why do gorillas have big nostrils?
Cause they have big fingers. <snort! and EWWW!>

What’s gray and has a tail and a trunk?
A mouse on vacation.

What’s invisible and smells like carrots?
Bugs Bunny Farts.

A chicken is walking along with a book under it’s wing clucking “Book, Book, Book, Book,Book, Book, Book.”
The frog says “Readit. Readit.”

What do you get when you cross a dinosaur and a pig?
Jurrassic Pork. <the most-often told joke in our house>

Do you have holes in your underwear? “No.”
Well how do you get your feet through?

 

 

You Are Here

But the question is, Why? 

I spent a lot of time last night wondering if I’m fulfilling my purpose in being here.  So much of the last 42 years, I’ve spent trying to be what everyone wanted me to be, and I’m seeing now that it’s gotten me nowhere, but it also made me wonder, why am I here at all?  If my reason for being isn’t what I thought it was, then what is it?  If I’m only here to serve as an incubator and an organ donor, tell me that so I can just get on with it. 

Maybe this is just a midlife crisis, or a particularly nasty case of PMS.  I’ve just started feeling like there needs to be more in my life than just yarn and hooking up electronic appliances.  Is that the legacy I’m going to leave behind?

All Jacked Up

Okay, so here’s the scoop.  The last two days I’ve been battling the school district (Norristown Area School District, specifically) over transportation issues for the boys.  Since we moved from East Norriton to Norristown, we decided to do the honest thing and let the schools know of our new address.  (We were slightly proud of the fact that we went from renters to taxpayers who now made an actual contribution to the school district’s coffers.  We’re also paying through the nose for that privilege; our property taxes are over $3K per year.)  I asked for—and got, amid much ballyhoo, begging and pleading—a waiver to keep Ryan at his middle school because with the new address, we were now zoned for a different school, but it didn’t make sense for him to have to change schools with 6 months left in his middle school career.

I found out on Wednesday afternoon that honesty isn’t always the best policy.  Because we were now zoned for a different middle school than what he was attending, Ryan was “no longer entitled to transportation services”.  Tell me where that makes sense.  We now pay taxes that contribute to the cost of transportation, yet we’re “not entitled” anymore. 

I’d say that nasty emails were exchanged between myself and several employees of the school district—in particular, Peter Matticola, the Transportation Manager for NASD—but I was the one doing most of the writing.  After I launched my first heated email on Wednesday afternoon, on Thursday morning Mr. Matticola passed a message to Ryan’s school to pull him out of class to call me and say he was not allowed to ride his bus anymore.  Anyone who knows 13 year olds will have an idea that standing out from the crowd is NOT a good thing (not to mention he was enjoying the project they were working on in science class), let alone fearing he did something wrong when he was called to the office, AND having to call his mother with that bit of information.  Mr. Matticola (and I use the term “mister” loosely) employed poor judgment and blatant unprofessionalism (not to mention immaturity) when he decided to delegate his job to a 13 year old boy, and for that, I expect an apology.  That and $.85 will get me a cup of coffee.

The second bit of this story comes about because the school district also required that Alex change his bus.  Anyone who knows jack about autism knows that these kids thrive on consistency.  I’m lucky in that Alex adapts to change well (probably better than I do), so after the initial “Why?” (“No, honey, it’s nothing you did wrong”), he accepted the change in his morning routine fairly well.  However, the bus meets him at an exact point in the morning when no one is available to stand there in the cold and wait for it to get there.  On any other day, I’d have left for work already; John’s in the shower; I’m not sure I should trust Ryan, at 14  (on Sunday) to get his brother on the bus.  I can’t let Alex sit in front of the house alone; he’s already eloped once.  My only option is to wait with him and go to work half an hour later than usual, which puts me in the teeth of Norristown morning rushhour.  I’m his mom so I’m going to do what I have to do, but nobody said I had to be happy about it.  Fortunately his “new” bus driver, Danielle, is a sweetheart and I’m happy to see her again.  She’ll give us an extra 5 minutes if I’m late getting back to Norristown after picking Ryan up at ENMS because he’s “no longer entitled to transportation services.”

No one said I have to be quiet about this.  I copied in Carl Rotenberg of the Times Herald (but got no response) on the emails I exchanged with officials at NASD, none of which was Peter Matticola;  he never returned a single one of my emails.  (Coward.)  I let Ann Rohricht know that I want Matticola to apologize to Ryan for putting him in that awkward position; of course, I’m also not holding my breath expecting that to happen any time soon.  No one has yet explained to me WHY this was such an issue.  What was the problem with the boys staying on their original buses?  If it’s just policy, shouldn’t someone audit the policy for COMMON SENSE?  Had I been dishonest and NOT reported that we’d moved, no one would’ve been the wiser and everything would’ve remained status quo through June.  But no, I did the honest thing. Foolish me.

This is what happens when a school system preaches intolerance of bullies but won’t practice that same philosophy.  We were bullied into this change and no one has yet explained what purpose this change serves.  We weren’t asking for anything special, and keeping the status quo wouldn’t have cost anyone a dime (except me; I sat for 20 minutes waiting between Alex’s bus arrival and Ryan’s, before I drove the boys home to Norristown; for those 20 minutes, I read aloud to Alex; we’d just started Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone on Wednesday). 

Next time I’ll do the smart thing.  I’ll lie.  Isn’t that a great lesson to teach one’s kids?  Honesty gets you nowhere, but lie and you get what you want.  Thank you, Norristown Area School District, for making me wish we’d gotten a bigger house and paid less in property taxes in a different school district.

Moving Right Along

Two days of personal psychological crisis ended in a rather large family crisis yesterday, which ballooned into absolute fury over the bureaucracy at the school district (it’s a long, ugly story that ends in complete cowardice on the part of a school district official, and me emailing the local newspaper and threatening legal action), but now I think I’m calm again.  They say depression is anger turned inward, and yesterday I turned it outward in a big way, but nothing compared to this morning.  I’ve vented my spleen; all is well. 

Just goes to show, don’t ever get on my bad side.  Even I should know better than that.  🙂

Many hugs and thanks to Laura for calming me down.  We’d be dangerous if we lived closer (but the local yarn stores and the Starbucks’ would be SO delighted!).

March Forth

No, I didn’t misspell today’s date.  I never quite forgot the importance of this date, though.  When I was in grade school, my mom babysat for a friend of our family’s, a terrific baby girl named Amanda.  She was with us for a few years until her father got a job in Arkansas and the family moved.  Mom was heartbroken, and somewhere along the line someone got the idea to “replace” Amanda, which is why my sister Karin came along.  Karin now has a baby girl of her own, River, and she’s THE most gorgeous baby on the planet.  <G>  And let us not forget, she’s a smart cookie, too!  (She takes after her mom; Karin was gifted with high intellect.  Get Karin, Pete and me in the same room watching Jeopardy and I promise, we’ll make your head spin.) 

Anyway, I’ve decided today is a day I need to put a new foot forward.  I’ve had some food issues going on and I’ve finally decided I have no choice but to recognize, I have a problem.  That picture of me here?  I don’t look like that anymore, and that picture was only taken last May.  I bought baggy jeans to replace the good ones that didn’t fit anymore, and now even those baggy jeans are starting to fit.  If I keep this up, they’ll be tight before summer comes.  Yes, we have a problem.

This morning I looked up Overeaters Anonymous, and I fit most of the characteristics.  I binge eat when I’m alone (hi honey!) and I think about food way too much.  Last night I came home and practically turned the kitchen upside down looking for something to eat, and when I ate that, I went looking for something else.  Fortunately I do know when to stop eating, and that time is now.  Part of my reasoning behind overeating is psychological and emotional; I’m compensating for things I think I should be doing or things I want that right now, I can’t have. 

I’m not an idiot.  I know what’s causing this, and I’m finally going to work toward finding a solution.  Therefore, today is the day I march forth. 

The Serenity Prayer (borrowed from the OA website, and also my grandmother’s favorite):

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference

Anticipation

Here’s the Dictionary.com definition of anticipation:

an-tic-i-pa-tion

[an-tis-uhpey-shuhn]–noun

1. the act of anticipating or the state of being anticipated.
2. realization in advance; foretaste.
3. expectation or hope.
4. previous notion; slight previous impression.
5. intuition, foreknowledge, or prescience.
6. Law. a premature withdrawal or assignment of money from a trust estate.
7. Music. a tone introduced in advance of its harmony so that it sounds against the preceding chord.

Lately I’ve noticed I’m in a REALLY bad mood in the mornings.  I used to be the Webster’s definition of Disgusting Morning Person but over the last few days, just the opposite.  Call it premenopausal hormones, or an inability to appreciate frigid weather, or pressure from the VFRW contest kicking in, or not being happy at my job.  Whatever it is, lately I’ve turned into a grouch.

I realized this morning that part of it is anticipation.  I dread the mornings because I expect something bad to happen, whether I know it’s actually going to happen or not.  Part of this I’d like to blame on my company (or maybe today’s economic environment in general) because around here, we never know when we’re going to get laid off.  I’ve actually been laid off 3 times, and every time they find a reason to keep me on.  An old friend from middle school (intermediate school to us Staten Islanders) mentioned he was just laid off via conference call, and he doesn’t know what he’s going to do next; he’s still in shock.  I believe the human psyche needs to retain a certain sense of stability and security, to be able to expect that tomorrow will be like today, same as yesterday, with minor degrees of variation.  We don’t have that.  I’ve seen people with 36 years invested in this company get told one morning, “You have 10 minutes to clean up your desk and get out.”  I’m not sure if it was more brutal to be on the receiving end of that statement or to have to watch it, knowing we could be next.  (I know what “survivor’s guilt” feels like first hand, and I plan to use it in a book some day.) 
Sure, the next thing is, “Find another job; go somewhere else.”  Easier said than done.  As the saying around here goes, “Just be happy you have a job.” 
A few weeks ago I made my first return trip to the dentist after 3 years away.  It was just a cleaning and evaluation but I expected pain, and after an hour in the chair, I felt like I’d been through an intense ab workout, I was so stiff.  I anticipated pain, and it didn’t happen.  Diane the hygienist is great and a lot of fun; we ran over our allotted time because we were chatting about kids and crafts.  But because I anticipated pain to happen, I could not relax.  It took a day for the muscle aches to fade.
I think that’s why I’ve become such a grouch.  I anticipate things—bad things—that aren’t necessarily going to happen.  Of course, there’s also the saying, “Perfect paranoia is perfect awareness”, and “Even paranoid schizophrenics have real enemies.”  But even when I don’t know for certain that bad things will happen, I expect them, and it puts my mornings in a nosedive.  Yesterday I left the office in a much better mood than the one I was in when I got here, and this morning I came in snarling all over again.
Of course, that then opens up the question, is it better to come in chipper and sunny and get blindsided by the days’ events? 

PMS

PMS should stand for Please Make (it) Stop.  I’ve been in a rotten mood since yesterday when I had a difference of opinion with a published member of my RWA chapter, who shall remain nameless (but if you email me, I’ll gladly tell you who she is).  The implication was that her time is too valuable to waste on our chapter contest, the annual event that funds our activities for the year.  I’m not coordinating this chapter’s contest for the fun of it; this thing sucks up my time like a Hoover.  Yet she wants special privileges if she’s going to deign to help her chapter out.  I asked her to take 2 entries to judge, while I’m taking 25.  I’ve been ready to spit nails since last night.

The snow started around 10:30 last night and it looked like it was coming down pretty good, so I thought, “Yay, snow day!”  Problem being, I was still so pissed off about the chapter/contest/judge mess that I couldn’t unwind, so I stayed up to watch TV and knit a little, hoping it would cool me down.  It didn’t work, and now I’m short on sleep, sitting at work after driving through the slop, only to get here and find I’m one of two people who braved this mess to come in.  Oh yeah, and the cafeteria is closed (because work is on a 2 hour delayed opening) so I have no idea where I’m going to get a cup of coffee, but I need one. 

Monday, Monday.  Can’t trust that day.