Monday, October 21, 2013

Rawr & stuff

I cried at a Katy Perry song yesterday. This song:

You see, my kids love Katy Perry. They're 8, so it's perfectly normal. They've sung "Firework" at school, making up different lyrics a la Madlibs. The first time they heard this song, they loved it. I tolerated it. I kept thinking, "I'm not going to buy it, because I don't need to buy every song they like. I already got 'Firework' and I don't love this song." But that's the weird thing about being a parent: your kids like something & you often end up liking it because they do. It makes them happy & that makes you happy. So I kept leaving it on.

I started thinking about the lyrics and my kids a week or so ago. I had explained to them before that it may have been about her divorce and how she was being strong again, but then I realized that it was an empowering song in general.

Listen, I try to avoid using words like "empowering" if I don't absolutely have to, but my kids need empowerment. They have been through PILES of shit in their short lives already, and I'm working really hard to help them grasp how awesome they are & the potential that they have; to get them away from a victim mentality.

So that's there the tears came in. On our two-minute drive to church yesterday (if we were better at getting ready on time, we'd walk), this was on the radio (What?! *shock*) and I started telling H that she and her brother should make this song their own. That was fine, but that afternoon, when I went ahead and bought it, I started to play it for them and just started weeping while trying to explain my thoughts to them. After being a little confused, I think they got it. Life and specific people have pushed them down. A LOT. But they are champions. Kids are the best at taking things literally and latching onto ideas, so I really hope that this sticks with them. Not the crying part, unless that just constantly reminds them of how much their totally awesome mother adores them, but the tiger/fighter/champion part. And not the emoticons. And let's stay away from Katy Perry's gender issues and candy bras. Let's just stop here.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Refer to Blog Title

Yeah, I don't sleep much. I originally started this blog as something productive to do when I can't sleep, so I figure I should get back to that. And for that reason you, lucky reader, get to have this post.

It could be stress. Things are mostly good, but there are always money issues and we're still hitting our stride with the kids. I don't feel super-stressed on a daily basis, other than immense annoyance with Windows 8, but I'm still not sleeping at night in my bed with my husband. Most nights (mornings, really) I'm getting 5 hours, which is about 1/2 of what my body would really like.

The most annoying thing is that I'm still really tired, so I can't do many useful things when I'm up. I can't study or read anything that requires thought. I should have screens off, but watching TV is about all I can manage. And then my lives are back on Candy Crush and I have to do that, you know.

So it's 5:30 in the morning on Sunday, and I am supposed to be teaching in 4.5 hours. I was exhausted all day yesterday & tried to go to sleep around 10:45, but it didn't take. So I finally just had coffee & a pb&j, even though I really want to go to Starbucks. No, what I really want is for there to be a Starbucks cart outside my door.

So it will be a mostly brainless day. My students will brainstorm with me and ask me anything, and then my kids will watch Doctor Who all day. They won't complain.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

But...but...what about ME?

As I've mentioned before, we didn't want kids for most of our marriage. We hung out by ourselves, were involved in lots of different stuff, and we've been slowly figuring out what we want to be when we grow up. Kids weren't part of the picture until they suddenly were. And it did feel sudden. Like, "Wait a minute here! I thought I was going down this road over here." A left turn.

I'm in seminary. I used to say that I wanted to be a pastor, even though I didn't know what kind. (Now I'm not sure I'll ever be a pastor in a church, but my call remains.) My call was nebulous, but I had a vague direction. As I felt my way through school and plugged myself into various ministry positions at church, I started feeling my way towards a more concrete direction, and that direction was high school students/college students/young adults.  Those are the people I want to hang out with, teach, and help. It came as somewhat of a surprise, but looking back, it really shouldn't have done. (I'm British now, yo.)

Then the parenting itch/call/bomb happened.

And it all stopped. The official college/young adult ministry had petered out on its own, but it was still very sad. Then I was overwhelmed by all the foster care stuff that started, and high school ministry was the only thing I could take off my plate. I was crushed. 

It didn't make any sense to me that once I finally started getting clarity, God gave me a big ol' nope. The good news is that, for a year now, I've been back involved with high school students, and it's better than ever. I feel like God gave it back to me and then some.

But..but..I've still tried to stay connected to graduates. I still want to walk with them and be part of their lives and "minister" to them. And I am still friends with many and get to hang out with a few, if not often enough. 
I have kids now. That is what my life is about, for the most part. I can't have people over like I'd like and can't go out with people as much as I used to. And I know that this is something I want and that parenting is the clearest calling I've ever had. I know this, but that doesn't always make it easy to let go of old ways you had of defining yourself. Of old dreams.

I understand that all/most parents feel this way about one thing or another or a whole host of things. I know that I don't have to let go of all my dreams and plans. I'm still plugging away at school and planning things and dreading things that have nothing to do with my kids. But it hurts my heart a little bit every time some of my friends talk about the young adult group they've started. "Wait! I'm supposed to be doing that!" "Can I help you?" I wonder if I read my calling all wrong (the old one) and I'm actually not good at it and wasn't meant to do it. 

I have 8 year old twins. They just moved in a week and a half ago. Seth & I will be quite busy for a long time. They are my focus, at least for a while. They need us desperately. I worry that as I spend time focusing on them, I will get older and older and this dream I barely had time to water will die or its time will pass me by. 

Parents: can you tell me about new dreams you got for yourself after you had kids or old dreams that you got to still work on or go back to? Especially those of you who may have been surprised by your kids for one reason or another. 

Saturday, May 11, 2013

This Kidless Mother's Day- the life of a foster/adoptive parent in waiting

Hi there. I'm telling you right now that I'm going to try to not make this a total downer, despite the title of this post. I think I'll get hopeful, but you  have to bear with me.

Other than goddaughters (who totally count, don't yell at me M & A), last year was the first time I had kids on mother's day, and it was pretty awesome. We had our two sweet girls, who were 4 & 1, and I was so happy. Sure, dear husband dropped the ball a bit on making it special, but I loved our little family.

About three months later, the 1yo moved out, and the rest of us were devastated. Yes, she went to a fabulous home and we still see her (not as often as we'd like) and we're very good friends with her (hopefully forever) parents, but it was and still is very hard. She wasn't talking when she was with us, but I have to tell you that it doesn't bum me out one bit that for all our efforts to get her to say "Aunt Robin," I get "momma" sometimes. She knows me as one of the people who fulfill that role for her.

Then on March 14th of this year, our big girl moved out after 15 months with us. Fear not-- we still see her fairly regularly, and her situation is good. Promise. But that doesn't make it hurt much less. She was over here the other day, and while I was standing in the kitchen doing something, she kind of sighed a little and said, "I love you, momma." As I think I've mentioned before, she's down with complicated families and having multiple moms & dads. More to love!

What you see pictured up above is part of my vision board. I've always been a big fan of cutting out pictures I like and I've covered my doors and walls in pictures even as an adult, but I never thought of it as anything more than silly fun. But a friend from church who is an artist teaches classes on creating vision boards, and I was able to go to a short one a couple weeks ago. We looked through magazines and cut out pictures that called to us. I had a lot of fun and brought a bunch of pictures home with me, but I didn't start putting it together until last night, and that's when it hit me: a vision board is a prayer in collage form. (If you need help with this concept, one place to look is Genesis 30:25-43.)

Even if there weren't some biblical support for the idea, it is still a good tool for clarity. When I was looking for pictures, there were some that spoke to me for far-off, fancy dreams, but many were simple things that almost made me cry when I found them. And the realization I had when gluing/praying in the wee hours of this morning was that, somehow, over the past two or three years, being a mom has become the desire of my heart. (I'm not going to explain what everything on it means, FYI.) Look at the kids I have there: I think there are 14 in that small section, and I have other pictures that I didn't put on there. I figured I had made the point. The fact that I just cut out the word "motherhood" is a big deal to me.

So I don't know how tomorrow (Mother's Day) is going to be for me. I haven't seen my little girl in over a month, and my big girl has been sick off & on for the past almost month, so I've only gotten 3 hours with her in the past three weeks. We're making decisions about adoption and we're feeling pulled in a few different directions without having much we see that we can really do about it. How about this: just don't ask me how I'm doing tomorrow, okay? You can hug me, but not for too long. I'm so very sick of crying this week. But I know that today or tomorrow is not the end of the story. I'm going to be a mom. It doesn't look like the journey my friends are on, but it's good for me & Seth. As you've already been told: I was made for this.

Thursday, April 04, 2013

A life of film

Today Roger Ebert died, and I was trying to figure out why it bummed me out so. I mean, I'm usually sad when anyone dies, but this felt a little different. Then I noticed that he's always reminded me of my Grandma Maki, even though they don't look alike or anything.

Aaaah. Movies. I always watched movies with my Grandma. She was very cool. She figured out how to set her VCR to tape things, and had me borrow tapes with movies she loved and knew I should watch. That's how I saw Educating Rita. My Grandma even appreciated Die Hard and Terminator 2-- that's how cool she was. She took my sister and I to see E.T. when it came out, and we each had little, leather E.T. dolls with us. She took me to see The Muppet Movie. On one awkward evening, we rented Children of a Lesser God from the library, thinking that it couldn't possibly contain anything worth being Rated R. I don't recommend watching sex scenes with your grandma.

One of the last times we went out together was to see A Beautiful Mind followed by Applebee's. I was tired and crabby and criticized the movie, even though she loved it. I hate remembering that day. On a funnier note, when I bought Monsoon Wedding, I had her borrow it because I thought she'd like it. She must have been having quite a confused day because she later reported that she threw it out because she couldn't understand anything and why had I brought her a porno?!

She always subscribed to People Magazine, so that's how I first read Entertainment Weekly, which is truly a big part of my life. She also introduced me to Ebert & Siskel and the whole world of movie reviews. Oh, she loved it. It was one of the shows she watched and I loved watching it with her. (Did you know that I wrote a couple film reviews in college? Matt and I dabbled with a rating system from -5 to +5, with 0 being "It was a movie.")

So I guess that by Ebert dying, I feel like another little part of my Grandma is gone. One less thing that I didn't even realize reminded me of her.
photo credit: Articulate MediaWorks via photopin cc

Friday, March 29, 2013

I swore I was never going to do this (Part 2).

As you may be able to pick up from the (Part 2) in the title, this is a continuation of a post from two days ago. Feel free to look at that if you haven't yet. Today I will get into more of the specifics of how Seth and I became foster parents and why we don't have biological children. Let's jump right into it, shall we?

Why don't we have biological children? We really didn't want them. Well, at least for most of our marriage. When we were engaged, I still wanted kids. Oh, did I. I was especially fond of toddler boys. Oof! I'd see a little man dressed in a plaid shirt and I'd whisper to Seth, "Take him!" (Clearly, I was joking. We're not kidnappers, y'all.) Then I started some nanny jobs, and I quickly got over my desire to have kids.

Believe me, I adore my now-goddaughters who I nannied back then, so this isn't about them being bad or difficult or anything. It was just that spending lots of time with them and the other kids I watched was so boring. And sure, there was the screaming in the car that made me very grateful that someone else was going to be in charge shortly, but there was also the knowledge that your life was no longer your own once you had kids. Good or bad, your lives are wrapped together. If your kid is depressed or messed up, so are you. I didn't want that, and Seth was always fine with whatever I wanted, so we went with that. And almost daily, we could look at kids being obnoxious or demanding and we'd look at each other and just say, "Reason #947 why we don't want kids."

So I got Norplant the year after we were married, and when the five years of that was up, Seth got a vasectomy. See? We were serious. The only reason we didn't do the vasectomy earlier is because we knew that doctors would give us a hard time or flat-out refuse since we were so young and didn't have any kids yet. We had thought long and hard about it, and we did. not. want.

Many people were concerned that we might change our minds and someone who will remain nameless even wondered if I was being fair to Seth, because what if I died and he wanted kids with his new wife? It was so lovely to talk to one woman who had never had kids, who when I said, "But everyone says I'm going to change my mind when I'm 35," just matter-of-factly answered, "Then you change your mind." It was not the end of the world.

Jump ahead some years, and as predicted, my ovaries started twitching at 35. I started having baby dreams, including one that I now think may have been about my niece. In that one, I was playing with a fabulous, blond, 1 year old girl. We were just having the greatest time kissing and laughing, and when I woke up, I missed her. I was sad all day. Another found me arguing with my cousin over babies found in little dirt piles on the sides of hills, as if they had been planted. A third dream, which was so clearly about adoption or foster care, was one where I was going down a road (through redwoods, I remember), and there was a man on the side of the road with his 3 or 4 year old daughter, and their car wasn't working or something. I stopped, went back to them, and said, "I'll take care of her."

We had always talked about adoption, but I was never going to do foster care. I did not need my heart being trampled upon like that. No, sir. But I know now that I was made for this. As hard and crappy as it has been, this calling is the most clear thing ever in my life. Believe, me, I'm often tempted to quit. The first five days we had our first placement, I felt nothing, she was difficult, and I wanted our old life back. When kids keep leaving, I want to say, "Screw this. I'll get a job, we won't have kids, and we'll travel and have money." And then I go by the children's group home and see a couple boys out playing basketball and I immediately think, "Do you want to come live with us?" Or I remember the day I was looking over a website with available kids (I call it petfinder for kids and I kind of hate it.), most of whom were older and/or handicapped, and I wept and told God that we'd do this, even if we didn't want to.

We weren't just pushed out of the nest, but I often say that God pushed us off a cliff. With many people around us adopting, the thought was popping up more and more, with Seth even saying, "Well, we'll probably be foster parents eventually," and me yelling at him, "Why would you say that? We don't want kids!" Watching the news after the earthquake in Haiti, I thought, "Okay. Send me one of those toddlers," (obviously not knowing that some people were totally exploiting the situation and taking kids.). We put that on the back burner though, because we lived in a one bedroom apartment and didn't have the money to move. But then a family situation arose and we thought we may be adopting someone, so we dove right into foster care classes and the licensing process.

I have a few posts already written from that stressful time period. Suddenly, my life was totally different and I wanted kids. I cried and felt like I was very much in a desert place with my faith and life because we were waiting on so many things to happen before we could just freaking get kids in our house.

It's scary every time a new kid comes to our house. We have adored and wanted to keep every kid that has lived with us. I've thought 5 different kids were going to be mine forever, and they're not. They'll always be my kids, but I won't see all of them and be their mommy every day. Our hearts were completely ripped out last summer when we were unable to keep the 1yo girl who lived with us, partially by our choice. Our fabulous 5yo daughter who lived with us for 15 months moved back in with her mom two weeks ago, and that's awesome. We hung out with her today, and she's still calling us momma & daddy. She's down with having a big, complicated family. In fact, next Saturday we're going to the 2nd birthday party of the girly who lived with us last summer, because they'll always be sisters.

I really hope that some of you are reading this and realizing that you could totally do this. Oh, it sucks. Believe me. But it's important. And we know how much you all support us. We have amazing friends and family and we appreciate all of your encouragement and prayers and rolling with making another new kid feel like part of the family.

If you can, please donate whatever you can to the Redwood Empire Foster Parent Association. This money makes it possible that every kid comes into our home with a big duffel bag of new clothes, a hand-made blanket, some jammies, books, and toys that are just for them. That way, I won't have to put any more two year olds to bed in one of my t-shirts on her first night in a scary place. ;)

Thursday, March 28, 2013

I swore I was never going to do this.

Many people are understandably curious about how Seth and I ended up as foster parents and why we don't have any biological children, so I thought I'd start telling that story, or at least tell a condensed version of it. I will try my best to not use the words "journey" or "calling," but I can't promise you anything. Actually, I can go ahead and promise you that I will use "call" or "calling," because that's the only way I can describe some of it.

Not long after we moved to Texas in the early 80's, my mom had dreams about having babies that turned out to be toddlers, and she knew that these were messages from God telling her that she was supposed to go into foster care. (Crazy start, huh?) My sister and I were around 5 & 9, and my parents were only 27 &  32. When I look at my life and the stages my siblings and I are in compared to my parents, I can't even wrap my mind around all of it. I'm 38 and I barely handled having 2 kids for 3 months last summer, and my mom had two children and started taking in foster kids when she was 11 years younger than me. We have had very different paths.

We had two kids living with us while we lived in Texas. One boy went back to his parents, and when our family had to move back to Michigan, the little girl who lived with us moved in with a different foster family. It was awful leaving her.

Back in Michigan, my parents got licensed as foster parents again and my sisters came to live with us when I was in 8th grade. They lived with us for about 3 years, with my youngest sister coming to our house straight from the hospital after she was born. They eventually went back to their mother, and it was one of the hardest things ever. It was one of the worst things that has ever happened to my mom; to lose her baby like that.

A couple other girls lived with us during that time, and I had always thought we just took care of them briefly or as respite, but no, they lived with us for a while. My parents had five kids sometimes. I can't get my head around that. I suppose I shouldn't be too surprised, as they both came from households with five kids. And now that I think about it, my parents will end up having raised five kids. Me & Beck, my once-foster sisters who both ended up coming back, and our nephew/brother. Funny.

I think that's where I'll end this part. I'll get more into the specifics about me & Seth tomorrow or the next day. My point is to tell our story for the curious, and also to show you that we are just normal people doing something that almost anyone could do.

Please consider supporting our work with children in foster care by donating to my fundraising efforts for the Human Race. I'm raising money for the Redwood Empire Foster Parent Association (REFPA) and this money goes towards supplying every child who comes into emergency care with a big ol' bag full of clothes, jammies, a blanket, a stuffed animal, and some books. These bags are so important both to the kids and to us as foster parents. We couldn't possibly be prepared for every size of kid who may come in, and these bags help us to clothe them and get them settled in their first few days before we can go shopping for them.
Thank you so much.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Insert Pun Here

I'm tired of insomnia. Wocka wocka wocka!!

My husband? He can make the decision, "I should go to bed now," and do so. There he goes, and he's soon asleep.

My body? It takes that whole "second wind" thing entirely too seriously.
The scene: It's 8pm, my daughter has just gone to sleep, and Seth & I want to watch some TV.

Body: I am soooooooo tired! I could fall asleep right here on the couch!
Brain: No. It's way too early. You know that if we go to bed right now, you'll just be a bastard and treat it like a nap, and I'll be up in 3 or 4 hours.
Body: So, we're not going to bed?
Brain: Nope. Suck it up for a bit.
Body: Ooookay.

3.5 Hours Later:
Brain: Well, it's time to go to sleep now. This is a perfectly reasonable hour to go to bed. Let's do that, shall we?
Body: HAHAHAHA! I do what I want! We're staying up now!

Another 3.5 Hours Later:
Brain: Now? Can please go to bed now?
Body: Nope! You might have to pee again in a little bit, so we better just stay up all night. Why don't you start a movie?

I realize that central metaphor of my stunning drama has fallen apart because at some point, it is my brain keeping me awake, or at least part of my brain, while the rest of me desperately wants to sleep.

This has been going on, what, 8 years? More? I think I need to stop taking classes that don't get me home until midnight. Especially if we get a baby/toddler, I'll need to be partaking in that thing the kids call "sleeping at night."

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Look at us, making healthy choices!

I've never liked vegetables a lot. Sure, I've gone through phases when I ate whole bowls of cucumbers or cauliflower for lunch (covered in salad dressing, of course), those times always pass quickly, and I'm back to cereal and sandwiches. Fruit? Ah, fruit. I love it. I could eat it all day. I could probably live on just grapes for quite a while. Berries? Kiwi? Peaches? Bring it on. All of it.
As chubby people, my husband and I have been on plenty of diets over the years, or tried to eat better in this way or that. We've tried low & no carbs, weight watchers, spiritual angles, and I've attempted to be a vegetarian more than once, but none of it has really stuck. We're able to make some sweeping cuts, such as HFCS, and partially-hydrogenated oils, and after realizing we were sensitive to gluten & dairy, we've cut 90% of those out of our diets. (Husband can't get on board with any gluten-free bread, and there isn't enough of a variety of affordable goat & sheep cheese to cut off all cow cheese.)

Enter Pinterest. Oh, I love it. If you haven't investigated it yet, please do so now, but only sign up if you want to have hours of your life sucked away in looking at recipes, outfits, crafts, and home decor and then feeling bad about not having the time, money, or stamina to do any of it. Here, you can look at my boards:

The things is, unlike many people, I've actually done a number of things I found on Pinterest. I've made a few kid crafts and tried a number of recipes. It's the recipes that have really been a godsend in our lives. I've gotten e-mailed meal plans, I have hundreds of recipes bookmarked in my browser, cookbooks sit wasting away on my shelf, but something about the visual nature of Pinterest drives me to actually cook (or have my husband cook) what I see there. I think it comes down to a few factors: seeing a picture (unlike in most cookbooks, where the majority of the recipes don't have photos), having a real person comment on whether the recipe worked or not, be they the "pinnner" or the blogger that put up the recipe in the first place, and being able to easily visually organize recipes I'm interested in. It takes no effort at all to scan a page of pictures for what looks good to me, then buy the ingredients and get to work.

So here's the exciting thing: our absolute favorite things to eat lately are VEGETABLES! And not just any old vegetables, but roasted vegetables. Oh, man. Seriously drool-worthy. I was skeptical when I saw all the pins of things like roasted cabbage, roasted carrots, and even romaine lettuce (Seriously. Romaine lettuce.), but I'm always trying to get myself to eat more veggies, so we tried cauliflower.
OMG! This is so freaking good. We haven't tried the linked recipe from REMcooks yet, mostly out of laziness, but there's no way it could be anything but amazing. We have made roasted cauliflower at the homes of multiple friends, and they're always pleasantly surprised by it. You can put any flavor you want on it. We've made it spicy, we've put nutritional yeast on it for a cheesiness, and every time we gobble it up like candy. 

But wait! We now have an even favoriter (yep) roasted veggie: BRUSSELS SPROUTS! Om nom nom. 
We had tried brussels sprouts a few times and I decided I was done with them, because they were always meh. When I saw these balsamic roasted sprouts, though, I figured I'd give them a try, because balsamic vinegar covers over a multitude of nastiness. Truly, we love to eat these more than almost anything else. I might even choose these over pizza, were the two placed in front of me. We're going to have to keep a constant supply in the house. 

So this is an exciting development. We'll roast almost any veggie, and they are scrumptious. I doubt I'll ever be a vegetarian, because it's just not practical, what with tri-tip and fajitas to eat, but at least we are expanding our food horizons and can happily fill up on healthy stuff instead of carbs, which we hardly even make anymore.

Monday, March 04, 2013

Don't I know you?

I've recently gotten back in touch with one of my cousins, and it's fantastic. Even though he's four years older than me, we were kind of close for a while there, mostly once he was in college and then when I was. The Hitchhiker's Guide was on my radar thanks to him, as well as a number of 80's bands that he and his brother would talk about in their furnished basement with a bar (fancy!).

When he went away to Michigan State, his mom took me with her to visit him at least once, if not more. She let me drive, which was very exciting, and I quickly learned that it's important to slow down when getting off the freeway, especially with a curved exit ramp. What else did I learn? That college life is really expensive, as he lived in a corner of a basement and paid a lot of money for it, that college students are disgusting (piles of garbage in the kitchen), and that the above parking garage was nicknamed the Human Habitrail. (I was certain that his genius mind had come up with that on his own.)

Once I was in college, we actually hung out from time to time, which was great. A few times, when my parents were out of town, he came to stay with me, even though I was quite able to stay by myself. I just didn't want to. Those times, we would hang out, I'd criticize his choice of girlfriend, and he even went out with me & my friends a few times.

He's smart, creative, hilarious, and I love him. But life, marriage, kids, family drama, and geography conspired against us, and we've gone many years at a time without talking at all and definitely not seeing each other. This time it was the impending death of our grandmother that put us in touch again. The day she died, I tried the work e-mail I had for him to let him and his mom know what was going on, since my mom couldn't get in touch with my aunt.

As we wrote back and forth, we both declared that it couldn't happen again; that we needed to stay in each other's lives. So we have continued. Three months have passed now, and we're still in touch. Sure, you could scoff, but I say that's pretty good. We're writing at least once per week, we've each shared writing with the other, and we're laughing and being honest. What makes me so happy is the pleasant surprise that he's still him. A few messages into our exchange, I was laughing and realized, "Oh, yeah! I totally love you! I forgot about that."

Plus, we have to stay in touch because I owe him a black eye from my first decade. There's a foil ball coming for you, cousin.

photo credit: Elizabeth/Table4Five via photopin cc

Saturday, February 02, 2013

Just What I Needed

I'm sitting by the fountain downtown Santa Rosa, currently listening the Deftones, which followed The Swell Season. Random is great.

The dream I had in my head for today was to walk into town from my house, then spend time at the library, reading and doing homework, maybe followed by a coffee and more reading. Well, I got out of the house too late, so I didn't want to be responsible for seven miles of walking plus chill in the time allotted to me, so I started driving, looking for somewhere a bit closer to still have some enjoyable walking time and chill time.

I ended up parking by the lovely, if mostly dormant, Luther Burbank Home and Gardens, where I believe that I saw a girl and some friends taking pictures for her quinceaƱera. She had a puffy, bright orange dress on, and there was a group of boys all in black suits wearing fedoras with either a florescent orange or pink band around it. (Now that I think about it, it may have been a prom or something, with another girl that I didn't see wearing a pink dress.)

After parking, I got the idea to go to the movies. With a 2:50 showing of Warm Bodies ahead of me, I put on my backpack, turned on a Greg Boyd sermon, and headed to the library. I was there for the third in a steampunk YA series set in WWI, and ended up shoving three more fat YA books in my pack with those.
From there, I headed over to the movies and decided to get some ice cream for my troubles.

The movie was fantastic. I actually teared up a bit, even though I normally don't like zombie stuff. When I saw the preview for this movie, I just knew I would like it. It is a little weird, though, to find Marcus from About A Boy (one of my favorites) as a hottie lead in a movie. Whatever. I'm old.

After that, I walked up to my husband's work, just to briefly see his face and give him a kiss. Good stuff. It's a little cold, and the dog needs to eat, but I'm having such a peaceful day that I just don't want to go home yet.

I needed this. I get a lot of time to myself, but I stay home mostly. Money has been tight, and there really is no such thing as extra money right now, but I needed to not feel poor for a day. I get sick of wishing I could go to the movies more often. I miss living close to downtown. This was good for my soul.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Happy To Be Alive Day!

Let's just put this out there right away: 20 years ago today, I tried to kill myself. That's what this is about.

On January 11, 1993, I was depressed, I thought, about a boy, so I took higher than the recommended dose of something and went to work. At work, I promptly freaked out and told my boss what I had done. She told me to go throw up, then she took me to the hospital. We were nervous and laughed, making fun of other people and myself and the situation (drinking charcoal is not pleasant, I say), but when my parents showed up I freaked out. I knew that what I had done was serious. I had to spend that night in the hospital, and I was so afraid to fall asleep, because I thought I would die and go to hell.

I hadn't really wanted to die, but just to escape. I didn't know how to deal with problems and emotions, I had been fighting depression since at least my senior year in high school, and I wanted to leave my life. If I would have had a million dollars, I would have run away and moved somewhere instead of trying to kill myself. I was mostly embarrassed by what I had done and didn't want people to know, but I ended up calling Dom in the morning and telling him, and then Carolyn called and pestered my dad when I didn't show up for biology, so he told her. I believe she said something like, "Mr. O'Brien, Robin wasn't in class, so where is she?"

After that, I got therapy and meds like I needed, though I had darker times to come later. But starting the next year, I called January 11th "Happy to be alive day." Though I had moments where I wanted to escape again and had suicidal thoughts, I knew that I didn't want to die. I don't remember every year to celebrate this day, but I was in the car this morning, heard the date on NPR, and thought, "Jan 11. Doesn't that mean something to me? OH YEAH!"

Twenty years. That's a long time. And I'm still happy to be alive. Don't get me wrong, I'm still depressed. It's part of me that may never go away. It's something in my brain; in my chemicals, and it's not a bad or defective or shameful thing. About 3 years ago, maybe more, I got on some anti-depressants for the umpteenth time and I've stayed on them since. Before I had done the thing that soooooo many people on psychiatric meds do, and after being on them for a while, I thought, "Oh, I feel better now. I don't need them!" DUH. I finally learned that it isn't about me having a bad life or not trusting God enough or any sort of need to pull myself up by my bootstraps. It's just something about my body.

So depression is like an old friend. I recognize it and know the steps to the dance. I'll admit that sometimes it takes me a little while to catch on. I'm dumb sometimes and I'll let my meds run out, then when I want to do nothing but sit on the couch, staring into space, I feel defeated. Then I'll either figure it out or Seth will say, "UM! Have you taken your medicine?" OH YEAH. That. Sometimes, even with my medicine, the depression is particularly strong. Nothing is necessarily going on in my life that is sad or stressful, I objectively know that I'm happy and have a great life, but I don't want anything. Those times always pass. I talk about them at least with Seth, if not with others, too, and they pass. I don't feel guilty about them.

My life is amazing and I'm happy to be alive. I'm thrilled to say that those people that were with me during that time are still my friends and I love them so. I'll use a word I stay away from and say that I cherish them. Thank you, friends, for visiting me in the hospital when it was obviously painful for you. Thank you for playing a super-depressing song followed by yelling at me for ever making you feel that way. Thank you, the boy at that time, for making me go to church with you after that. Thank you, dad, for telling me that "tens of people" would have been affected by my death. Thanks for putting a hospital glove on my teddy bear so that he became "Gregory, the Chicken Bear." I love you.