The Cranky Defense

It’s early Monday morning and I was woken up by the screech of the buzz saws right below our bedroom window jarring me from sleep straight into a miserable, throbbing headache.  Before I even began my day the hammers pounded in my head along with the screeching of the electric saws in high decibel, extra-loud volume, like the shrieking sounds of an inconsolable child.

I am cranky because the work being done on the house is to fix a big (sic: expensive) problem that meant digging under the house, replacing wood and floor tile. Two square feet of floor tile was replaced and now I have a dark and dismal two- toned, mismatched kitchen floor and I hate it. I think it is symbolic of all that I feel.

I am miserable because neither my husband or I have a job and that scares the hell out of me. Our two teenage children are winding down their school days and will be in summer camp for 8 weeks. I am happy for them but let’s face it being in a house with your beloved spouse, 24/7 is not good even in the best of times. I tug at the collar of my shirt, to indicate present and future hyperventilating; I know he must feel the same way.

I’m cranky about many different things: that we weren’t invited to a barbeque, that we don’t quite fit in with the “in crowd” that we are in a bad place because of the economy. Little things make a difference:  I was looking forward to watching the finale of Survivor with my husband but of course, the second I opened my computer I saw who the winner was. Really? Can they not just wait 24 hours before they plaster the spoiler all over the internet?  As an act of great love and kindness I did not tell my husband who the winner was; he deserves the pleasure of surprise.

I feel ill at ease and at night, before bedtime, I try to think of  jobs to do but that just causes me to get agitated and then I can’t fall asleep. When I finally fall asleep, I sleep restlessly and have nightmares about my mother every single night. I am always angry at her and she is mean and doesn’t seem to care.

The only positive side to my crankiness is that at least I am not eating an excessive amount of food to cheer myself up.  In the past, I would have been at Mr. Donut Man ordering raspberry jelly doughnuts. Oprah and her friends would be so proud.

My health is unchanged, I have no energy and the new drug, Cellcept, used for auto immune diseases hasn’t kicked in yet. I don’t know if it will even help. My guru Dr. keeps telling me to be patient; that’s easy for him to say. He hasn’t had Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis and a myriad of other illnesses continuously for the last 3 years.  I am tired of being patient. I am tired of being tired.

I went for a blood test again today  at Quest Labs that hurt as the needle wiggled and skipped to find its way to my bluish-gray vein.I made the mistake of glancing over and seeing the dark red blood filling up tube after tube.  I noticed that their linoleum in the lab was identical to the dreaded beige-brown fiasco that now lives in my kitchen.

I’m lonely. I ache for my father who passed away eight years ago and I miss him, Father’s Day is looming ahead of me like the extended weather forecast for thunderous storm clouds. It’s a lengthy invitation to depression. I think the only place I should  go to is the cemetary where my father is buried. At least there, I am allowed to cry; I am allowed to mourn, and all my pent-up emotions will explode and I will place a perfectly round, white stone on his gravesite and allow myself to grieve.

The Chocolate Covered Cherry Diet

I’ve discovered a secret to losing weight AND having whatever sweet treat you like most. Notice I said like, not love. There’s an important distinction. For me it’s called the “Chocolate Covered Cherry” diet and I have perfected it. My husband once bought me an entire box of  chocolate covered cherries, which to me, is my kind of sweet heaven. Instead of putting them high up  in the pantry closet or having my husband hide them from me, I discovered  another option, a better option. It’s full disclosure.

I put the entire box of chocolate covered cherries (I’m drooling) in our bedroom on my dresser. Right, smack, in the middle. I opened the box and ate one and told myself I could eat one, just one, every night if I wanted to. Part of me, knowing they were so easily accessible didn’t even want to have one every night. But, when I wanted one I had permission to eat it and found, except for one time when I ate two, I did stop at one.  They are SO sweet that you don’t want to eat more than one.

There are limits to this dieting technique. You can’t do it with something known to be your weakness or downfall. For me, I could not have a dozen jelly doughnuts on my dresser because they are my ultimate weakness.  I wouldn’t stand a chance of having one bite every night or even one doughnut every night. You need to know which food will help satisfy your sweet craving and which food item will start you bingeing .

Choose wisely. Very wisely.

Try it and see how it works for you. Remember the secret is not to set yourself up to fail. DON’T buy anything you feel is absolutely irresistable to you. Purchase something that you really like and whose flavor is so sweet, so intense that having another would be really too much.  For me, the chocolate cherries work. However, don’t  substitute them for anything with marzipan, jelly or vanilla. There are just some things, I can’t resist. Unfortunately, I know that from experience.

Off I go to the drugstore now, to buy my chocolate covered cherries that I need, for my diet.

Starbucks: Tutti, Frutti, Venti, Schmenti –Repost

Starbucks Supports Linux

Image by EgoAnt via Flickr

When I want a special treat that involves energy- inspiring caffeine,  I go to Starbucks for a small, skim latte.   I go rarely but once every 4-6 months I treat myself. However, I refuse to go in there talking the Starbucks talk. I ask for a small or medium, on purpose. I get great pleasure out of it.  I don’t know if I am doing this to annoy them or If do it to make a personal statement; probably a combination.  The self-imposed lesson to communicate: “Hey, you have really good coffee, but the silly  names of the sizes? Too pretentious. So, I order a small, or a medium and nobody cares, except me, and they hand me my coffee and I am happy.

I was banning Starbucks altogether until my friend Sarah, introduced me to the skinny vanilla latte. It’s so good and the calories are (supposedly) low and that it’s a guilt-less treat.   I hate to admit it but this is the product that brought me back to Starbucks. However, when I see how much it is, I cringe and feel guilty at the waste of money; I believe it is near three and a half dollars. That’s insanity and logically I know that. Until I take that first taste of that frothy sweet piece of heaven. Now, when I go, I don’t hesitate, I know what I am ordering; I am ordering the vanilla dream, that light, skinny, sweet taste of comfort.

It’s a dilemma. I’m paying an enormous amount of money for basically three sips of a beverage. I know I am not paying for just the flavor, I am paying for the Starbucks brand and hype.  I am paying for the product recognition of that white and green cup and the cute, cardboard brown wrapper to protect my hands from getting too hot.  I am buying someone elses skill to make the coffee and clean up the coffee grounds so I can sip it and feel like a million bucks. Something about that is just not right; but it works. That is why Starbucks is so successful, they know what they are doing and people just keep on sipping, and slurping.

Putting my lips against the white plastic cup is enjoyable. My lips and tongue search and linger to find the right, exact  angle to take a sip from the alloted slot.  I take it to-go and walk outside, my taste buds lingering on every sweet sip. It’s basically coffee for sugar lovers (or sugar-free facsimile).  It’s a brand that works and even though I boycott, even though I try to save money, even though I make fun of the names of the sizes, unfortunately I am hooked. There lies the contradiction, of course it’s pretentious, and part of me likes that and part of me doesn’t. I don’t like the names but I like the cute cups and logo?

The smell of the coffee shop, the people sitting at the round wooden tables with their books or computers or friends. You feel like you are part of something when you go to Starbucks and you are. Yes, it is undeniably over-priced and pretentious, but it’s also good, strong, coffee with attitude, to go.

Running Away: My “Rachel Green” (Friends) Moment

Friends Season 2

Image by IvanTortuga via Flickr

It’s no secret that being an adult can be very stressful at times for a variety of reasons. It could be parenting, it could be employment or unemployment,  marriage, illness or a combination of the above.  Parenting, to me, is utterly delicious but not always easy especially when you have two teenagers in High School at the same time.  Adulthood in itself can also be extremely overwhelming; you are older and things are not as easy as they used to be.  Everything is harder and more difficult however, if you live with a chronic illness. Your energy level is low, you feel weak, you feel pain, tiredness and sometimes sad and discouraged. That is the world I live in.

My husband and I had agreed to meet for lunch in the city where he was working.  I was coming from one of  many doctor appointments and feeling very discouraged. I think I had been to my  Opthamologist who had to relaser my eyes for the umpteenth time for my narrow- angled glaucoma. Or,  It could have been to see my Rheumatologist who is in charge of auto -immune diseases for my Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis.  It could have been both.

We ordered our food and then I excused myself to go to the ladies room. Once I got inside I saw a big, wide open window,   leading to the street. Yes, I admit it,  I had a moment. I had a Rachel Green moment ( for those of you who don’t know the tv episode of Friends, she climbs out of the window at her wedding and runs away). For a few seconds I pictured myself climbing out that window;  I was absolutely stunned. Shocked. Eerily quiet.  For a split second I thought to myself, “I could just leave through this window and escape.”   I saw myself in  France or Italy,  eating warm, dense, freshly baked bread, pulling it apart and dunking it in olive oil.  I laid in the soft green velvet grass surrounded by leafy, gorgeous trees and rolling hills. There were wildflowers of every color, purple, yellow, pink and white.  I was alone. I was another person and, I was happy, feeling marvelous and buoyant and free. Free of illness, free of worry, I had just stepped into the colorized version of my life; I had entered into my own personal  Wizard of Oz.

No one could have been more shocked than me!  I shook my head quickly at the notion, but as I was returning to the table (and confessing to my husband) I still saw that image in my mind.  The sweetest thing was the feedback my husband gave me which was “I don’t blame you!!” I would NEVER do it,  would NEVER leave my family, but the fact that the thought popped into my mind was absolutely startling.

My husband and I finished our lunch and my husband led me to the train, the pain in my eyes like sharp, steel wires under attack, unable to see clearly and with a severe headache that pounded  the entire right side of my face. I stumbled to  Starbucks and bought a cup of coffee and a densely rich, moist,  brown sugar and molasses cookie for the ride. As  the train doors shut, I settled in, seated next to a window, in a chair facing my home and away from the city. Taking small, sugary bites from my molasses cookie I tried to relax.  My back nestled in the old, worn, smelly quilted chair. I sat quietly, listening to the  slow, chug-chug beat of the train like a song that was stuck on only one phrase, repeatedly. I sat in the train, the 2:48  that was delivering me back home.

*FML. No, Wait. Don’t.

I’m in a quiet mood tonight. The rain is dripping outside, the humidity is high, spirits are low but even. I am not happy in a joyful way yet not depressed in a hide- under -the- blanket- way either. I’m coping. Coping is a good thing I think, it beats hysteria by a mile and clinical depression by tens of thousands of kilometers.

There are times in our lives when coping has to do. This is that time for me and my family.  When life has piled an extraordinary amount of pressure and stress upon you all you can do is try to go with the flow or basically moan and groan and give up. Moaning and groaning is  not an option. Anymore. We all know the drill, sometimes up, then down, down, down and hopefully up again. You need to believe in the “up again” because EVENTUALLY things will be better someday. It’s just hard to see at the moment or the last two years. Believe me, I know.

A very long period of unemployment, a longer period of sickness, stress for the teenagers and from them, stress from the relatives, stress from our stressful selves. Take a deep breath. Now breathe. I feel like I should have a cup of Sleepy Time tea right next to me. With milk and honey added to it. And, perhaps an English biscuit or two.

I need to take a vacation in my mind. Where to go, what to do? Climate? Sunny, of course. I see the rolling green hills of Spring and red, yellow and pink tulips blossoming everywhere. Birds chirp happily singing their sweet songs. I listen, lying on my back, head on my crossed arms, feeling the soft grass as my cushion and the sunlight warming my eyelids. It’s 75 degrees and life is sweet.  At least in my mind and my lofty imagination that is.

I went to my Dr.’s office today and when he asked me how I was doing I said I was “coping.” But, after addressing what was happening, and describing the actual events I found myself going from “coping” to “miserable.” Literally, within one minute of each other, sitting in the same, plaid, uncomfortable bumpy chair my status changed to “miserable.”  I even asked for platitudes, I asked for rainbow idioms but I got nothing, no advice from him except his comment: “Try not to fall.”  Huh? Is that the best you can do? Couldn’t you even come up with there’s a silver lining in every thunderstorm, cloud formation or tsunami? Apparently not.

It gave me pause to think. If I am complaining and recounting all the bad stuff to myself or anyone else, what good does it do? It just seems to focus on the misery and the past and not leave room for the possibility of a better time, a different time, a good time.

So for the next few months, I will be focusing on the positive, wherever and whenever I find it. It started tonight with a Weight Watcher’s dessert that I added whipped cream and rainbow sprinkles to. It was in the People Magazine that I bought for myself  with a smiling Sandra Bullock and her beautiful baby on the cover. It was reading Confections Of A Closet Master Baker by Gesine Bullock Prado that had me smiling warmly with nostalgia: marzipan, chocolate treats, plum cake or as we called it “Kvetchekuchen.”

So, here’s to the Bullock sisters and to HOPE, to dreams and most importantly, here’s to positive energy. Energy that I have to control, and I will; I will definitely try.

*FML stands for F-ck My Life, thanks to the FML website.