Archive for September, 2010

25 September, 2010

Charlie Bear

Because I’m sick.

Because the bronchial infection may kill me at any moment.

Because I may go throw myself under a bus if it doesn’t kill me, just so I can stop hacking, coughing, and generally wondering how much liquid can drain from a person’s nose, eyes, throat, and chest before said person shrivels up like a prune.

I am going to reveal a deep, dark secret.

Are you ready?




Yes, that’s right. I still sleep with a stuffed bear.


His name is Charlie.


He traveled to Australia as part of my carry-on luggage because I was afraid to check him. He’s been covered in tears and snot and probably a little blood in his time. He used to let me dress him up like a girl (Sorry, Charlie.) He’s survived the washing machine.


My mother once washed him and then hung him outside by his neck to dry. When I saw, I had a minor meltdown.


And he’s never ever ever never ever never never never allowed to fall apart.


Amen.


*Bobs

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23 September, 2010

Some Truths About Anxiety

I’m tired.
It seems to be my automatic response these days.
“How are you?”
“Fine. Tired.”

It’s simply the best answer I can give. I’m not getting a ton of sleep. I mean, I am here blogging when I have to be awake in five hours and fifty-four minutes.

But it’s not just that.

*****

Whenever I blog about my anxiety, I feel guilty. I shouldn’t, because it’s not as if I’m forcing anyone to sit down and read. I’m not even convinced that anyone really does. But there’s something about putting my weaknesses down for the world to see that makes me feel like I shouldn’t do it.

Unless I can make it funny. Like the fully-clothed shower I took during the Great Flea Wars of 2010. That was funny, and so I wrote about it.

I’m not feeling particularly funny right now, though. Mostly… just tired.

*****

It’s just been one of those weeks. My world got rocked a little when I found myself sitting in the middle of my Russian class – my FAVORITE class with my favorite professor – suddenly overcome with this feeling of dread. I knew what it was, of course. The dizziness, the nausea, the sudden onset rapid heartbeat. The overwhelming urge to get up and run screaming from the room combined with the fear that if I stood up, my knees wouldn’t hold me. I know panic attacks. And I know how they work. They tend to come without warning. They’re really very politically correct things… completely non-discriminate. Any time, any place, with or without some kind of trigger. They don’t care. Despite knowing this, I think I felt that Russian was some kind of safe zone.

After all, I usually spend the class period walking on clouds.

And I ALWAYS pay attention to Dr Garza. Just ask any of my friends, who tease me relentlessly over my knowledge-crush.

But honestly, I couldn’t tell you the first thing about what he said on Tuesday afternoon. Frustrating not only because we are now doing prepositional plural possessive pronouns (say that five times fast) and the work is getting increasingly difficult, but also because I’ve lost that feeling of “nothing can go wrong here.”

And for the life of me, I can’t figure out why.

And I know that there is no why.

And that drives me a little crazy.

***** 

I want to go to Moscow next summer. The program is amazing. Five and a half weeks of being taught Russian in Moscow. Exploring the city. Experiencing the culture.

Staying in a dorm. With a roommate. Eating strange food. Experiencing a communication barrier on a massive scale.

It’s a little terrifying too, on a personal level and on an anxiety disorder level.

I started thinking about things that could happen. What if it’s dirty? What about the fact that I hate to shake hands? Isn’t that a big deal in Moscow? What if there are no academic accommodations and I fail all of my courses because I have to use Scantron sheets to take the exams and I can’t do them fast enough? Do they even know what OCD is? Do I know how to explain it do them? What if I have a bad panic attack and end up in a Russian hospital because someone assumes that I’m in need of medical attention and I don’t know how to explain to them that I’ll be fine?

Something tells me that would not me an all together pleasant experience.

Don’t know why I think that.

Really. Can’t IMAGINE why.

Of course, I could just be obsessing. I am prone to worry.

*****

So I e-mailed my professor to ask about mental health in Russia. It was a legitimate thing to do. Crazy as some of my what-if scenarios are, I do need to have some general idea of what to expect. It’s just good sense to plan for the contingencies.

Not that they’d keep me from going either way, mind you. That’s not what I’m about. But I do like to be prepared.

It helps me know how much Xanax to pack.

So I sent this e-mail.

And I haven’t gotten a response.

I know there is a legitimate reason for this. Paper grading, hundreds of other e-mails, being generally busy with life. The season premier of Glee, which my professor apparently watches.

I don’t. But that’s another blog topic.

Point is, I know that it’s irrational to want a response immediately.

But I kind of do.

Because while I’m waiting, I find myself feeling guilty – because I talked about my mental health issues. And then feeling terribly afraid that perhaps I shouldn’t have said anything. And then wondering if maybe I’m being judged. And wondering if what I wrote will make my professor like me less. (God, needy much? It’s not just him though – it’s any time I write about anxiety. In fact, I’m sure I’ll feel all of these things as soon as I post this thread.)

And then I think, if he doesn’t respond, I’ll lose a little respect for him. And that would be sad.

And then I think that I’m an idiot for even worrying about this, because, for God’s sake, it’s not as if I’ve written to reveal I’m secretly a serial killer and would like to know if he could recommend some new victims.

It’s a vicious, irrational cycle.

But I’m still checking my e-mail inbox every twenty minutes.

*****

Whenever I admit that I feel guilty about talking about anxiety, I also immediately feel hypocritical. I am, after all, the poster child for being “out” about anxiety disorders.

Admittedly, that’s a lot easier when you’re not in the middle of it.

I’m having some issues with washing right now. My hands aren’t bad yet, but they’re starting to show a little wear and tear. I caught myself hiding them earlier today, right after washing, because they were red.

Then I felt guilty and hypocritical.

I’m coming to realize that for me, being out doesn’t mean that I’m not still just as insecure as the next person.

I still worry about what people will think. Sometimes, I’m still embarrassed. Sometimes, I just don’t don’t want to talk about it.

I’m simply not ashamed of it anymore. And sometimes, I look at all the things I’ve accomplished in spite of it, and I actually feel pretty darn good about myself.

*****

Tonight in the improv class that I was signed up to take, I had to pull aside our instructor and tell him that I couldn’t deal with everybody trying to touch me. All the high-five-y, huggy, touchy-feely, playing games that required me to be boxed in on all sides by people in a very small room.

I hate being boxed in.

He dealt with it. The class became immediately less terrifying.

But it was still kind of awkward and uncomfortable. It was still improv. Just not improv in which I felt the urge to run out screaming and wash my hands.

*****

I do a ton of work for OCD. I facilitate the local group. I’m working on a campus group. I sit as the Vice President on the Board of Directors for the Texas IOCDF affiliate.

Sometimes I feel like my whole life is OCD. And that’s BEFORE I remember that I actually have the disorder.

Sometimes I wonder what it would be like to not spend all of my spare time immersing myself in the disorder that I’m told I’ll have for the rest of my life. Sometimes I think that all of the work I do is just a way to make myself feel better about being stuck with OCD.

Most of the time though, I’m pretty excited about everything we’re doing. I’m proud. I can’t wait to see where we’re going and really, I love the work. It’s something that I’m good at. It’s something that I’m supposed to be doing.

But when my own OCD flares, and I start having weeks like this one, I feel a bit tired.

*****

It’s really just one of those weeks. Don’t get me wrong. Soon I’ll be posting about all the progress we’re making at OCD TEXAS. I’ll write to talk about our big meeting. I’ll write to say that I never feel more competent than after I’ve facilitated a group meeting.


Tonight, though, that’s not where I am.


Tonight, I’m tired. And anxious. And tired of being anxious. And tired of being tired. 

*****

I desperately need to go to bed. But the guilt of writing about this is already setting in.

Of course, I only have seven readers. *grin* And most of you already know me.

Ultimately though, as I was reminded of in a post over at Twinsanity, I have to write what speaks to me. So love it or leave it, this is what I’ve got.

Tomorrow, we’ll tackle foreign aid policy and my views on the environment.

Or, you know. I’ll go back to being more or less entertaining. After all, with prepositional possessive plural pronouns, who knows what embarrassing language blunders I’ll make this week!

*Bobs

** Photos done by Kelly at Dances With Chaos. Ain’t she swell?
20 September, 2010

She Can’t Be One

She can’t be one. 


My niece. My little Munchkin. The little banshee. My little Mariposa – my little butterfly girl. Miniature creator of Chaos, the girl who cries if you sing off-key. The one who shares my birthday number.


The one whose ultrasound picture I plastered in my cubicle wall. The one who caused me to sprain my ankle leaping off a short wall when I found out she was a girl.


The one who hid so well that she originally produced a negative pregnancy test in her mother.


The one who caused me to carry around pictures of a pregnant Kelly, as I tried to explain to my professors in my very first semester of college that I might have to rush out at any time, because it was my job to watch the then-two-year-old when Kelly went into labor.


The one who sometimes makes me want to fill my ears with cotton balls and then wrap duct tape around them. The one who frustrates, infuriates, and melts me… sometimes all at once.


That one.


She can’t possibly be one year old. 


Even though all of the pictures say she is. Even though she’s wearing that hat.




Even though there was cake. Lots and lots of cake.

She was certainly more excited about being covered in cake than her brother was when he turned one. The Monkey Boy was horrified at the sight of his hands covered in chocolate that he couldn’t get off.

I can relate.

This one wasn’t quite so bothered. She lasted almost ten whole minutes before realizing that she was covered in sticky icing. Then she got annoyed.

But the sugar high kicked in not long after that and all was right with the world again. At least that’s how it worked for me.

At least that’s how it would have happened, if this had been real. 

But it can’t have been real. because she can’t be one. She’s just a baby. I’m sure of it.



Just yesterday, she looked like this.


And her feet fit in my hand. And they were beautifully wrinkled, and they still smelled like baby.


And she fit on my chest like that.


Now she fits on my chest like this. But I don’t believe it’s true. Because she can’t be one. Even though her birthday was six days ago. Even though her party was this weekend.


Even though there were presents.


Even though she fell in love with the stuffed Lady dog, looking at it like it was the thing that had always been missing from her life.


She can’t be one. Because just yesterday, she was my little ghost at Halloween.


She stuck her tongue out at the camera and we wondered if she was really part Labrador.


She was just a little baby. Just yesterday. Really.


She can’t be one. But she is. Sometime while I was off learning Russian and trying to save the world, trekking all over UT and generally doing big-people things, my little niece grew up a whole year.

And it breaks my heart, because she just isn’t a baby anymore.

But it’s exciting too, because the best is yet to come.

She won’t stay little forever, but every day she turns a little more into a tiny person, and I can’t wait to see who that person turns out to be.

All I can do is sit back and watch, and try to soak in as much of it as I can, because tomorrow she’ll be ten, and the day after that, she’ll be 16 and learning to drive and babysitting my children for me. 

Next week, she’ll be getting married. I’ll take pictures at her wedding and cry like a baby, because just yesterday, she’ll have been one. That is, if Dave doesn’t kill the boy before she marries him.

Then she’ll have babies of her own, and I’ll snuggle them against my chest and feel really old. That is, if Kelly is willing to share.

She’s one, and my life flashes before my eyes, because in half a heart beat, she’s changed from a baby into a toddler, and soon she’ll be talking and singing and developing interests and thoughts of her own. Some day, tossing her into the air and blowing raspberries won’t be enough to make her giggle. Some day, I won’t be able to fix all of her problems by feeding her, changing her, and playing Simon and Garfunkel. Some day she’ll be all grown up.

And I don’t want it to come. But I can’t wait.


Happy Birthday Munch! I’m exhausted too. And I love you.

*Bobs

For more birthday excitement, check out Dances With Chaos – where Kelly does her own Chaosy blogging.
16 September, 2010

Awake


I had a seventeen hour day today. I left my house at seven this morning, and I got back into it at midnight. I have to be awake in five and a half hours. 
And yet I’m here.
Because I’m wired. Awake. Exhausted – but full of energy.
Don’t you just hate that?
So my day today? It started in Social Work, then moved to Russian (I got 100 on my first exam!), then into Lit discussion, where we talked about Chinese philosophy. 
Just in case I haven’t been clear about this, I’m not a huge fan of philosophy. Particularly this piece we read, which I believe was the ancient forerunner to modern-day double speak. This man would fare well in politics – he used a huge number of words to say that nobody knows anything.
For example:
“There is a beginning. There is not yet beginning to be a beginning. There is a not yet beginning to be a not yet beginning to be a beginning. There is a being. There is a non-being. There is a not yet beginning to be nonbeing.There is a not yet beginning to be a not yet beginning to be a non-being. Suddenly there is a non-being.” – From Chang Chou
Now, I realize that this is deep, ancient philosophy and all that. But honestly, when I’m reading it, it brings to mind another great text. One that we all know and love, written by an author who touched millions of lives.
I am, of course, talking about Dr. Seuss.
“When tweetle beetles fight, it’s called a tweetle beetle battle. And when they battle in a puddle, it’s a tweetle beetle puddle battle. And when tweetle beetles battle with paddles in a puddle, they call it a tweetle beetle puddle paddle battle. And when beetles battle beetles in a puddle paddle battle and the beetle battle puddle is a puddle in a bottle…They call this a tweetle beetle bottle puddle paddle battle muddle,” – From Fox in Socks
And okay, granted, Dr. Seuss wasn’t an ancient philosopher. But the two passages make about equal sense. And when it comes right down to it – I’ll take the philosophy of Seuss. At least he comes with colorful pictures.
But, I digress. 
After Lit, I did not go to psych, because I was busy fielding four thousand e-mails for a meeting that I’m running in a month. We’re doing bio in psych right now anyway. It’s redundant. You KNOW how I feel about learning redundancy.
Then I went to Russian Practice where I was reminded once again of how difficult it is to understand a native speaker.
My neighbors were wonderful enough to take care of The Super Duper Cooper Pooper Puppy for me today, so I stayed on campus and spent more time answering e-mails. Then, at 7, I went to my first Improv class.
I’m not a huge fan of improv as an activity. It’s fun to watch, but I’m more of a calculated risk taker than a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of girl. This is great for things like paper writing and business deals, but it makes improv mostly awkward and uncomfortable.
But of course, I was told that I would be taking improv. So improv I will be taking. Perhaps it will get less awkward and uncomfortable over time. That, or I’m going to have to start drinking heavily before class.
They tried to convince me to stay and drink after class, but I turned them down. After all… I needed to come home. And sleep.
And yet, I’m awake. Rambling about Chinese philosophy and lamenting the fact that I’m not fluent in Russian after only three weeks of classes. 
Now – bed. If not sleep, I can lay awake and conjugate verbs. Or contemplate the beginning. Of the nonbeginning of the nonbeginning of the beginning of the beginning of the nonbeginning of the tweedle beetle puddle muddle battle.
That’ll keep me busy for hours.
*Bobs
*Edited to add: Seems like the blogger spacing issues are back. I think I know why though. Stay tuned for more appropriately spaced posts.