Tiny Coconut

I have things.

Friday, May 25, 2007

I have nothing to say

My dad seems to be doing as well as can be expected. My dog is recuperating. My job takes up all my working hours, all my waking hours, and most of my sleeping hours, too. There are so many end-of-the-year wrap-up events going on right now that it makes my head hurt to think about them, but as long as I just keep track and show up where I'm supposed to, when I'm supposed to, all will be well.

So, really, what is there to say?

Today I did the last class of a three-session dental hygiene series for the first-graders at my kids' school--proving the old adage, "Those who haven't sat in a dentist's chair for almost 30 years, teach." In the second of the two classrooms I visited, there came a series of questions about the Tooth Fairy. They started with simple things, like "Why does she leave money?" but then progressed:

"If fairies are real, why can't everyone see them?"
"I don't believe in the tooth fairy."
"I heard that if you lick a coin that the tooth fairy gives you, another fairy dies."

My answers:

"You can only see them if you believe in them."
"That's OK. Then I guess you don't care that you can't see her."
"WHA? Let's move on..."

Despite the lack of Tooth Fairy info I was able to impart, I got lots of hugs when I left. Apparently, giving kids a smiley-face sticker and a pencil that says, "Clean teeth = Healthy mouth" earns you friends for life. Or at least for the afternoon. Wish I could please my boss that easily...

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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

I can't just have a headache...

...It has to be a withdrawal symptom from Lexapro. Or maybe a reaction to one of the new supplements I've started taking--a B-vitamin complex for stress, a GABA complex to try to minimize any anxiety symptoms I might have. Or a brain tumor.

I can't just be annoyed at the kids' behavior because they are being truly difficult...It has to be manic irritability, a sign that the bipolar disorder I supposedly don't have is rearing its head. Or maybe, again, it's the result of my withdrawal from Lexapro (down to 10 mg every other day). Or maybe it's a reaction to one of the new supplements I've started taking--maybe instead of calming me, they're ramping me up. I've had weird reactions like that before, after all. Or it could be a brain tumor.

I can't just be in a pissy mood because work has been beyond chaotic and there are constantly fires to be put out...It has to be [insert any one of the above reasons for my headache or my kid-related annoyance]. It's probably a brain tumor.

God, it's tiring being a hypochondriac. There's so much to *think* about. It's enough to give you a headache...

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Saturday, May 19, 2007


This is what it's like in my head: We are driving home from Friday night services at our synagogue, and a song comes up on a CD we're playing. It sets off a series of memories of when Em was a baby. Baroy and I begin one of those games of "Oh, and remember when she used to..."? Em is eating it up.

"Oh," I say, as we pull into our driveway, and a memory hits me so hard I can almost taste it. "And then there was the Ariel [from Disney's "The Little Mermaid"] game you used to make me play with you *every* single time you took a bath! I had to be Eric, and you would whisper to me your lines, because it was from the part in the movie where Ursula has stolen your voice!"

"Really?" Em says, her eyes alight.

"Yes. And you were SO adamant that we do the lines the exact same way, every single time. If I varied them even the slightest bit, you'd throw a total fit."

"I did?" She is grinning, wide.

"Yep. God," I say, my voice falling to a murmur, amazed by the immediacy of the memory. "You would do this stage whisper. It was actually more of a croak." I do an imitation. "Eric...Eric..." I croak.

"So what were the lines?" she asks.

"The lines?" I look at her, puzzled.

"You said we had to do the lines the exact same way, every single time. What were the lines? What did I say; what did you say?"

And while she might as well have been 3 years old again and whispering the words directly in my ear, so close is the sound of her voice at that very moment, I cannot remember a word of it. Besides the word Eric, the name of the character I was playing, I cannot remember a single word.

We all think we're unique, even bizarre. I know that. Maybe I'm not as odd as I think I am. But there are things about me that *are* different. I know there are.

Of course, when I try to explain what it is about my brain that is the core of my own perceived difference, I often have great difficulty doing so. Usually, the only thing I can say to get people to understand is to explain that, more than 90 percent of the time, my dreams are in words, not pictures. That I can't tell you whether I dream in color or in black and white, because I don't 'see' anything when I dream. I hear things...sometimes I even hear an actual narrator. Sometimes I hear quotations, complete with "he said," or "she complained"--though that's not especially common. Most of the time, it's as if I'm 'experiencing' my dreams, but only from inside my head. I can feel the emotions, hear the conversations, even sometimes hear the internal thoughts of either myself or whoever is at the core of the dream. But I don't see things. I can't tell you what people are wearing, or even who they are, because I can't see their faces.

Last night was the first time I can remember when my neurological bizarenesses with regards to memory were so clearly laid out in front of me. I must have said those lines 200 times in the space of a year. It's not that I can't remember saying them...in fact, I can remember it like it was yesterday. I could tell you the temperature of the bathwater on various occasions when we would do this particular little skit. I can remember the quality of the light in the room...when it was nighttime, when it was daytime. I can feel the linoleum under my knees as I knelt and scrubbed Em's back. I can feel the roughness of the washcloth under my fingertips, too. But I can't remember what we said. WHY can't I remember what we said?

This is not an isolated incident. Ask me about college, and I can tell you in great depth how I felt about a certain friend of mine from freshman year (25 years ago!), about the odd sense of intimacy we had, about the way we would hang out only under certain circumstances of time and fate. I can hear his voice. I can smell the combination of foot odor, stale pot smoke, and day-old pizza in his room. But I can't tell you his name. Or what he looked like. Or what we talked about.

I have talked before about having lost great swathes of my life to the black hole that is my memory. But I realized, last night, that that's not true. A black hole swallows everything. My memory only swallows some of what is fed into it; other bits and pieces continue to orbit around me. When prompted, I can snatch those bits and pieces as they gravitate inward. And sometimes, like last night, one of those pieces will smash into me like some kind of memory-laden meteorite, sending up a cloud of recollection that is as strong and wonderful and full of sensation as any moment in the present in some ways--but that is shrouded in dust and mystery in so many others. It makes me sad.

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Thursday, May 17, 2007

What if I need you?

I was already in the car, running late to get to my Reintroduction to Judaism class this evening, when I heard the screen door slam, and saw N come running toward me. I noticed that he was crying...sobbing, actually.

I rolled down the window.

"What's the matter, sweetie?"

"Open the door, please," he sobbed.

I did, and he rushed over, and put his head in my lap.

"What's the matter?" I asked again.

"I don't want you to leave, Mommy. What if I need you and you aren't here?"

That child absolutely destroys me. Not to mention that he has clearly inherited the Jewish Guilt gene. I still went to class, though. My heart was in a million pieces, but I still went to class.

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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Wanna write for ParentsConnect?

Here's the deal: I'm now in charge of gathering together literally hundreds of short (150-500 words) essays-that-aren't-really-essays for ParentsConnect*, which is a Nickelodeon/MTV/Viacom website for parents of children of all ages.

Here's what you need to know: You do NOT need to be a 'writer' to get in on this. We're currently calling these essays-that-aren't-really-essays Blabs, because that's really what they are: little blabby email-to-your-friend type things that talk about your feelings/emotions/reactions to some parenting topic, whether good or bad. We don't want stories with a narrative; we don't want things all tied up in a pretty little bow at the end. We want things that look at parenting as it really is--a work in progress. So, for instance, we have a blab from a parent who is, in the piece, literally standing in her child's doorway, trying to decide whether or not to go in and search her kid's room, because she thinks she smelled pot on his clothes yesterday, and what will it mean if she does go in and ransack the place? Or we have a blab from a parent who talks about how she really doesn't like kids other than her own. Or we have a blab from a parent who is exulting because he forced his daughter to get involved in a drama production at school, and now she loves it. In other words, it doesn't have to be all bad, sad, deep, dark stuff. It just has to be about *you* rather than about how cute or annoying your children are.

Here is more of what you need to know: There's a TON of paperwork to fill out to be paid the (yes, measly, very measly) $35 per accepted Blab that we pay. We have a 3-Blab limit right now per Blabber, so that means at best I'll be putting an extra $105 in your pocket. But, hey, why not, right? More than the money, you'll be able to say that you were 'published' by Nickelodeon. And you'll get some stuff of your chest.

So, if you're interested...and I hope you will be...drop me a line at tinycoconut@gmail.com, and I'll take it from there. No need to send writing samples or anything like that, though if you want to tell me what you'd like to write about for your first Blab, that would be great. At that point, if you want to see examples of what I'm looking for, I'll send you a couple, along with a document that explains a little bit more about all of this.

Feel free to pass this along to family, friends, other bloggers, email groups...you know the drill. I will literally need at least a hundred people even just to get this started! (Have I mentioned there's work stress in my life? And this is the FUN stuff for me!) Oh, and if you already said you were interested in something like this before now, chances are you're on my "people to respond to" list, and you'll be hearing from me or one of my colleagues VERY soon.

*Note: There's a reason there's no link here. That is because, while ParentsConnect does very much exist at the moment, the version of ParentsConnect that these Blabs will appear on doesn't resemble the one you can see if you click that link. The focus is different, the voice is different, the content is different, the architecture of the site is different...you get the point.

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Monday, May 14, 2007

More about The Big Wean

Thanks for everyone's thoughts and concerns, both on and off this blog, about my decision to take myself off of Lexapro.

It's hard to get all of the pros and cons, all of the thought processes that go on behind a decision, down on 'paper,' as it were. So it is with this process. And I can't even begin to try to rectify that. But I can share a little bit of what's been going on.

When I first started weaning, about a month ago, I was on 20 mg of the stuff. I am now down to taking 10 mg two out of every three days. Next week, if things continue to seem fairly smooth to me, I'm going to go down to taking 10 mg every other day. (You can't say I'm rushing things. Or maybe you can, but I'd laugh at you, because there are SNAILS that move more quickly than I am in doing this. Not that snails take antidepressants, or wean themselves from same. Hmm. Maybe I need a new analogy...)

Here is what I've noticed:

  • The previously nearly omnipresent Malaise is almost completely gone. I have had only one oh-my-go-I-*must*-nap-right-now-or-I'll-die day in the last month, and that came after a night of badly interrupted sleep when Snug was in the hospital last week. It was also, perhaps not coincidentally, the day after the night that I forgot to take the B6/B12 combo I put myself on when I started this wean, in the hopes of keeping stress levels down a bit.

  • I haven't needed a Xanax since just I got down to 10 mg daily, despite the fact that, during that time, there's been Bad Dad News, Bad Dog News, and Hellish Work Situations. That thrills me.

  • I got my period the other day, and Baroy was literally--almost open-mouthedly--shocked to find that out. Normally, my period is preceded by bloodied, headless bodies strewn about wherever I go. This time, it was preceded by a vague feeling of annoyance at people who don't do what I want. In other words, it was business as usual in my psyche.

  • I used the phrase "it's all good" in describing what was nothing more--but certainly nothing less--than a nice, pleasant Mother's Day. Because it was all good, and I felt just fine. I had time with my kids; I had time by myself. We had brunch out at IHOP; I cooked dinner in and served it on our 'good' plates. Em and I took a walk together; N and I cuddled before bed. N made me a sparkly beaded keychain in kindergarten; Em and her friend J created their own 'cosmetic company' in the days leading up to Mother's Day and gave both me and J's mom some sparkly, smelly hand lotion they'd made out of different lotions they collected, along with some home-made 'perfume.' (I'm afraid to ask what the perfume is made of. It's in a water bottle that has a tack in the cap; you take the tack out to dribble some perfume on your wrists. Creative, no?) What's not to love about a day like that? And yet, in my increasingly jumpy, increasingly malaise-y pre-wean days, I probably could have found something not to love.

The only downside thus far has been an increase in irritability--I feel like I'm snapping a little bit more, though the "I didn't know you'd gotten your period" thing makes me think I'm hiding it fairly well, at least from Baroy--and a bit more emotional vulnerability. For instance, an incident with Em last week actually had me in tears, because my feelings got hurt. I don't think I've *had* feelings in the past few years, and certainly not ones that were strong enough to get hurt and make me cry. But the thing is, I handled it. We talked. We cried. We made up. We moved on. You know, like normal people. Me. Acting like normal people. Weird.

I never expected to be on drugs forever. This feels like the right time to do this. I can't explain all the reasons why--and they're not all completely rational or reasonable, though some of them are--but it's working so far. And if it doesn't? If it all blows up in my face?

Well, then tell all your friends to come and watch. If I'm going to go down in flames, I might as well do it with some truly impressive stats behind me.

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Friday, May 11, 2007

The little heathen

N has been behaving abominably in kindergarten of late, losing his super star seven out of the past ten days. (The behavioral consequences in his classrom go like this: First offense, your name goes on the board; second offense, your name gets a W for warning; third offense and you lose your super star. A dozen super stars equal a trip to the gift box on Ms. F's desk.)

It's not only that he's been losing his super star, but that, as Ms. F says, it's almost like he's been DARING her to take it away. And he's not being very respectful. Frustrated by the lack of impact both positive and negative reinfocement has been having, I wrote to Ms. F the other day and task for some suggestions. She gave me a few, but basically said that all the kids in the class were acting out as the year winds down, and signed off by saying, "Good luck with the little heathen!"

I upped the ante today and basically told N not to come home from kindergarten if he didn't have a super star in his pocket. (OK, I didn't say it like that, but that's what I meant.) So, of course, when he came to me from the classroom today, all smiles, and announced, "Guess what I lost today? My super star!" I was ready to strangle him.

I went over to Ms. F to hear about today's transgressions, heard the litany, then said, "That's it. If he doesn't shape up, I'm just going to have to sell him."

Ms. F looked at me with a mixture of understanding and pity. "You know what though?" she said. "If you put him up on the block, I'd probably have to make you an offer for him."

And that, in a nutshell, is the story of N. An irresistable scallywag.

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Wednesday, May 09, 2007

A Snuggly Update

Snuggy-bug (yes, we call him that; yes, it's cloyingly annoying; no, I don't care that you're gagging now) came home yesterday evening from his tour of area veterinary hospitals. He's on antibiotcs and a high dose of steroids, and is still relatively low energy compared to pre-whatever-this-is Snug, but much better than two-days-ago Snug.

Problem is, his platelet counts are still low, even after a few doses of antibiotics. The vet had hoped to see them come back up a bit by now, but they haven't. So it may not even BE from a tick bite. The symptomology is classic tick disease (fever, body aches, etc., along with the platelet thing), but his blood work keeps refusing to admit to any tick problem, and the platelets aren't bouncing back the way they should from the antibiotics. The other vet at the hospital--our friend Kim, who lives down the block and is the mother of one of Em's best friends, but who doesn't work the first half of the week and so hasn't been Snug's doctor these past few days--says we may never know what caused it, and that it really doesn't matter, so long as it eventually goes away. So, keep your fingers crossed, and send platelet-regenerating thoughts our way.

(FYI, that green bandage on his front right leg is just from where his IV was. Because of the clotting problem, they didn't want it left open to the air so that he can lick it and get it started seeping blood again.)

Oh, and on an entirely different note, say happy birthday to my baby sister, who turned 40 today, and whose response to my call to wish her a happy birthday was, "Oh, god, I thought you were calling to tell me daddy had died." That's what our lives are like right now...right there.

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Monday, May 07, 2007

Oh, dear god, please make it stop already!

I really do need to come up with a better, more socially appropriate way to respond to people who politely ask about how my father is doing. I mean, my current response--"Well, he's dying, so it's only downhill from here"--isn't really what most people want to hear.

I did hear from his girlfriend today, in between appointments at the VA medical center up where they live. Apparently, he was sick enough for them to insist he lie on a stretcher while he waited for the next doctor to see him, and he'd fallen almost immediately asleep. In the meantime, the hospice worker had told Dad's girlfriend that it was time to set up a room for him downstairs, and time for her to order a hospital bed, a wheelchair, etc.

"They think it's moving along quickly," she confided. "They think it's going to be sooner rather than later." I did my best to respond empathetically, while thinking to myself, "What later? Who ever said there was going to be a later?" It cannot come soon enough, by my reckoning. Later, I mean. The end, I mean. This is already no kind of end of life. And as I said, it's only downhill from here.

But today's real medical crisis came courtesy not of my dad, but of my doggie, Snug, the canine love of all of our lives. Long (and I do mean long) story short, after transfusions of plasma at the local vet's office, he was transfered tonight over to the local emergency vet clinic. He is bleeding from various orifices (his mouth, his rectum, his penis); he also seems to be bleeding internally. His spleen is enlarged; his stomach has blood in it. He's running a low-grade fever. He's moving like he's a 20-year-old dog, not a 20 month old dog. His platelets are low. His clotting times are slow. He's a sick puppy.

And the worst part? My fault. Our fault. Proabably, at least. Because the current working diagnosis is that it's likely a tick-borne disease that's causing all of this (despite the fact that the initial tick titre done in the vet's office came back negative; it's apparently not a foolproof test, and the blood work that will be back in the morning will tell the real truth). How did he get a tick-borne disease? Well, probably because his idiot owners don't always remember to give him his Frontline every month...or every other month. Clearly, catch-as-catch-can flea and tick protection isn't all that good at keeping a dog healthy. Who knew? Besides you and you and you and you and everyone but idiot us, I mean.

Poor pup.

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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Do as I say, not as I do

Dad's dying. Work's a bitch. We're in debt up to our ears for some reason. (Could be the insane spending of money, I suppose.) N is acting out--at school, at home.

So guess what I decided to do? Go off my antidepressants, of course!

There are actual good reasons for it, number one being that Lexapro isn't doing much more for me than Celexa did, except to help me gain those last five pounds I needed to go from normal to overweight in my BMI. And also because I'd like, some day in the not-so-distant-future, to get some medical insurance that would actually allow me to, you know, take my kids to the doctor's office without having to pay for the entire thing out of pocket due to the for-real, I'm-not-joking $8,000 deductible on our current policy. And for that, I need to not be on antidepressants.

And I'm doing it smart. Cautious. Almost insanely slowly. I'm on 20 mg of the stuff officially, so I started by taking only 10 mg every third day, then every second day, and now, two weeks later, I'm taking 10 mg two days in a row and then a 20 on the third day. In a week or so I'll go down to 10 mg, period, and stay there for a week or two, at which point I'll start skipping every third day of pills, then every other, then maybe even taking 10 mg every third day before stopping entirely.

That sounds very sane, very smart, very careful, doesn't it?

And it is. Except for that part above, proving this to be possibly the Very Worst Time Ever to go it alone, save for when Stalker Girl first ramped up her 'interest' in our family. In fact, if any one of you were doing this, I'd have stern words for you. But me, I know better. I know I'll be fine. That, or I'll dive headfirst into the first shrink's office I can find in about a month or so, begging for the strongest stuff on the market. One of those.

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Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Plan v. Reality

The plan: Fly into NY Tuesday, April 24; get up the next morning and go in to the city to meet with my new boss and *her* boss from 10 to noon.

The reality: Wednesday's meeting stretched from 10 to almost 5. Thursday's hastily scheduled 1 pm meeting stretched from 1 to 4. Monday's hastily scheduled 9 am meeting stretched all the way until 6:30 that afternoon. And there was still so much that didn't get done.

The plan: Drive upstate with my sister and nephew to see my dad on Saturday, expecting him to make a huge deal about us staying overnight in a hotel and only having brunch with him the next morning.

The reality: The pain meds my dad is taking caused the "usual" (as those of us who've needed narcotics at any time in our lives know) side effect of extreme, um, bowel issues. Dad was in such pain from the side effects of the pain meds--and how ironic is that?--that he couldn't concentrate long enough to have any kind of conversation. We got to where he's living with his girlfriend at around 2 on Saturday, stayed less than an hour before he was unable to keep his eyes open any longer, helped get him tucked into bed, then went to check into the hotel. Returned at around 5:30 for dinner; he couldn't even make it downstairs long enough to sit with us--because of the cancer, he hasn't eaten an actual solid meal in over two months--so we just had dinner with his girlfriend. He came down for about 45 minutes after dessert, and then we went back to the hotel. The next morning, his girlfriend called to tell us that she was going to be taking him to the hospital (an hour and a half away), because he was just that sick from the side effects, but that he wanted to see us before he left. So we went for less than half an hour, said goodbye to him, and returned to the city.

I know that's only a recitation of fact. I just don't have much more than that to say. I got back home yesterday afternoon, and I'm simply exhausted. That was the closest I've even come to spending seven straight days steeped in pure, unadulterated stress. Thank god for my funny, sweet, silly nephew, who took me to Special Friends Day at his school on Friday, and who absolutely personified denial when we were at my dad's. To wit:

Dad's girlfriend, at the dinner table: Matt, how are you doing with all of this? Are you OK?
Matt: I really like that broccoli.
Girlfriend: Thanks. But are you doing OK with the way Grandpa is looking and acting?
Matt: The garlic in the broccoli is the best part.

Me? I did an internet search on ways to relieve constipation in people taking large doses of narcotics, and I fell asleep the second we walked in the door after we checked into the hotel, while Matt and my sister took a swim. I didn't say Matt had a monopoly on denial, did I?

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