It's not just the name of my favorite season ender of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (well, favorite today, anyway.)

I am feeling twitchy and eager to get away from here. When I'm home, I feel anxious to do something...clean the kitchen, move the furniture, paint the walls, sort the laundry, sweep the floor, throw out a bunch of crap. Instead, I bounce around from TV screen to computer screen, stopping at the refrigerator and pantry to see if there is anything there I want that I didn't notice before.

I am starting to wonder if my ever increasing anxiety is tied to the fact that I recently gave up my lifelong nailbiting habit. I don't know what happened, what changed, but about a month or so ago, I just stopped. At first, my nails kept breaking, but now they are getting strong. I know nailbiting is a self-soothing activity, like sucking your thumb. I could start biting them again, to see if it helped, except that I can't bite them now. I just can't.

I was talking to my online moms group about my anxiety over paying for college, and asking them whether they thought I should try drugs or booze to ease my distress. There wasn't a clear answer, but I think I should try exercise. Lord knows I could stand to lose some weight, and maybe I would be too tired to flutter around trying to figure out what to do with myself.

20 or so days until the pool opens...maybe I'm getting anxious because it's been so long since I swam nearly every day. I can't wait to get back in the pool.


An Invitation

I would like to invite any interested readers to my Pops concert, which will be on Friday, June 16, 2006 at 7:30 p.m., at South Congregational Church, 277 Main Street, Hartford, CT.

This year, we're doing An Evening With Oscar and Steve, featuring the music of Oscar Hammerstein (with his partner, Richard Rodgers) and Stephen Sondheim.

I am particularly excited about this year's concert, because I've been begging to do Sondheim since I first started singing there.

And I will fulfill a longtime dream of singing Mrs. Lovett in "A Little Priest".


Sio had an awards ceremony at school tonight. The first of at least three separate evenings dedicated to giving awards. She won a book award from St. Joseph College (Loki, in a soft brogue: "It's all right, son, it's Saint Joseph's") and a participation award for math team. Soon will be the Performing Arts awards, and then there is one other one...but I can't remember, that may be vocational awards, and she won't get anything for that.

She's actually had a rough year this year. She's struggled in pre-calculus, and she's lost all interest in History. Right now, she's having trouble concentrating because her psoriasis, which went into lovely remission after her trip to Greece, is back with a vengeance.

She went to school today wearing a short sleeved, v-neck t-shirt and shorts, and she stopped at the nurse's office to get some hydrocortisone cream, since that's one of the things public school kids aren't allowed to carry. The nurse expressed surprise that Sio would expose her skin like that, basically suggesting that Sio should be ashamed of her psoriasis and try to hide it.

Sio was pissed. She said "what if I wasn't confident with my body, what if I did feel ashamed, and someone like a nurse condoned that shame?" Damn right, Sio. That nurse was out of bounds.

Sio starts phototherapy on Thursday, which should clear up the psoriasis. Right now, she looks like she has the worst case of chicken pox in the history of the world. But she is still the most beautiful person I know.

College Decision

Sio has decided to apply for Early Action admission to Yale University.

Tuition/Room & Board at Yale for the 2006-2007 academic calendar: approximately $44,000.

Approximate percentage of me & Loki's combined income that the Yale tuition comprises: >75%



The Power of Fat

Ordinarily, I look at the fat that's on my body as something entirely passive. Just this ring of flab, just below my waistline, giving me an unpleasantly lumpy profile.

But I'm going to see my platonic crush this afternoon, and I wanted to have a smoother profile, so I decided I would wear my tummy tucking underpants. For the men who read the blog, these are underpants that squeeze down rings of flab to make your stomach look flatter. I squeezed myself into the underpants this morning - squeeze being the correct description of how one gets into these garments, as they are engineered to hold their shape.

Everything was fine, at first. I got dressed and checked myself out in the full-length mirror. Looking good!

I started to realize that the fat was rebelling against being held in such tight quarters as I was driving to work. I could feel the fat pressing against the nylon/spandex layers of the undergarment, yearning to be free. As I got out of the car, some of the fat escaped, causing the waistband of the undergarment to roll southward, just a little.

I went to work and didn't really notice any new breaches against the spandex fat prison. But then I went to the restroom, and I looked at myself in the full-length mirror, hoping to enjoy another look at the smooth profile.

Instead, I saw what appeared to be a tumor of fat poking out above the ever retreating waistband of the tummy tuck underpants. I tried to roll it back up, but the fat was free and at war against the garment that kept it confined. Suddenly, my fat was actively working to make me look lumpy.

And I, French loving person that I am, surrendered. I'm going commando for the rest of the day. And my fat seems to be back to it's passive self again.


Poisonous Righteous

Last night, we went to Sio's spring choral concert. Her school has a vibrant Performing Arts department, so in one choral concert we heard 5 different ensembles: Chorus, Chorale (all women), Jazz Ensemble, Roundtable Singers and Women's Chorus. The first two groups are open to any student who enrolls in the course; the last three are all auditioned.

One of the songs the Jazz Ensemble sang was a piece called Gulf War Song, by a Canadian band called Moxy Fruvous (and I apologize for not including the umlaut - I don't know how). The choir director preceded the song with a statement of explanation, which is something he rarely does. He said he won't get into politics, because he doesn't want to offend anyone, but also because his politics don't matter when it comes to teaching music. He chose the song because it's not an anti-war song or a pro-war song, but does talk about the internal conflicts a country at war goes through. He let us know his favorite lyric:

What makes a person so poisonous righteous
That they'd think less of anyone who just disagreed?

I know I am often guilty of that kind of poisonous righteousness. I can justify it by pointing out that liberals of all stripes are against the wall - the word that best defines my political beliefs has been hijacked by those on the opposite side of the political aisle, made into a dirty word. But it raises a question for me: How do we fight against those who are throwing their poisonous righteousness at us without sinking to the same level? How do we fight the public relations portion of the political battle for the soul of this country without being as brutal as our opposition? Joe Public doesn't necessarily want to hear policy analysis about why, say, universal health care would be good for the country - he sees one player body slamming the other and wants to root for the bigger, louder, stronger player, the one who seems most likely to win.

Despite my hopes that civil discourse is not yet extinct, I do think Tristero was on to something with his post about The Discreet, Measured Tone of the Right.

Now, you may respond that calling this unprincipled fuck an "unprincipled fuck" simply perpetuates his sin or worse, that I don't have any way to attack his position on its merits.

You're 100% right about your first objection. It does perpetuate a pithecanthropic level of discourse for a very good reason: there is no possible way to avoid doing so without being a total fool. You think you can "politely engage" someone who compares an American vice-president who served his country honorably for 8 years - not to mention his previous services to America in government - to a Nazi? You can't, or rather, you shouldn't. Nor can you ignore it (although the vice-president should). The terms of engagement have been set by this slimeball - the rhetorical battle-field must always be level. There is no higher ground and attempts to claim it will lead to your destruction (see Daschle, Tom for details).

As for that second objection you could make, well I gotta admit it: you are right once again. I do have no way to attack his position on his merits, again for a very good reason. What he is discussing is not Gore's ideas or global climate change. No, what he's talking about, the only subject is, "how exactly comparable is Al Gore to Josef Goebbels" and I will not dignify this scumbag's comparison by explaining in measured, avuncular tones why such a comparison is, and I hesitate timidly before saying it, "unfortunate?" There is no way to attack his position on the merits because there is no merit to his position. And he knows it.

When there is no merit to the argument, I don't think it is possible to be poisonous righteous in coming down hard. One can only be righteous.

I will be mulling this topic over for a while. I may revisit it.



Saturday night, I was flipping through the TV channels and landed on Turner Classic Movies. The Essentials was on, and the featured essential movie was Top Hat, with Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers.

When Monkey saw that the movie was black and white, she started to head up to her room to listen to music and possibly sing into her microphone while she posed in the mirror (I'm not saying that's what she does in her room, but it might be). But I stopped her and told her that Fred Astaire was one of the greatest dancers to ever appear on screen. I told her Bob Fosse's story of an Astaire encounter (Astaire greeted Bob Fosse with a "Hiya, Foss", and Fosse was thrilled that Astaire knew part of his name), and she settled in to watch the movie with me.

At first, she was skeptical - it took a couple of dance numbers for her to thrill at Astaire's elegant grace the way I do - he moves like gravity doesn't work as well on him as it does on the rest of us lunks. I hadn't seen the movie since my childhood, and I was surprised by the sex-oriented jokes, including some winks at same-sex loving. (Loki would suggest that I might have imagined the latter, being the fan of homoeroticism that I am).

As the movie ended, I started to tell Monkey about my favorite movie star/dancer: Gene Kelly.

Gene Kelly defeated gravity through athletic force, and he had those great, manly legs...yeah, he makes me swoon a little.

Anyway, Monkey didn't have to listen to me talk about Gene Kelly, because TCM presenter Robert Osborne mentioned that they had decided to schedule a sort of "dance-off" between the two great dancers, Fred Astaire and Gene Kelly. The next movie up was Anchors Away, in which Gene Kelly co-starred with young, skinny, gawky Frank Sinatra (I think a large part of Sinatra's appeal was that gorgeous, smooth baritone voice - before the years of drinking and smoking - coming out of such a skinny kid), Kathryn Grayson and Dean Stockwell (when he was an adorable little moppet).

Monkey had to go to bed, but I recorded the movie for her, and then I recorded Royal Wedding and Singin' In The Rain, which might be my all time favorite movie-for-pleasure.

While Sio and I were at church on Sunday, Monkey had a little MGM movie marathon. One of the cool things about being a parent is sharing something you love with your kids. That turns into joy when your kids love it as much as you do.


Tired can't sleep

I really should just head into bed at 9:00 every night, which is when I always seem to feel incredibly tired. But I never can, because there is still so much to do - dishes & laundry, of course, but then regular time wasting stuff like watching TV.

Then I go past the tired feeling, and I get a second wind. And tonight, I'm feeling not so good, so every time I lie down, my stomach starts making noises, and I have to get up again.

It's been a pretty good week this week. Ned Lamont is on the ballot! We've all been eating better because I've been focusing on making more well-balanced meals. We had some sun this week, which was exciting. I finally went to Pandora and set up my radio. I have to add some of the more upbeat stuff I like, because thus far, my radio is really low-tempo.

Today was a crazy day, weather-wise. Beautiful sunny morning with the promise of warmth. By the time we got out of church (I spent the sermon with Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy rather than listen to Rev. Right-Wing), it was gray.

When we got home, me and the girls played outside with Dopey* the Basset Hound. We were throwing a ball around, and he would go racing after it, ears flying. He brought it back like he was a retriever. But after 10 minutes, he just plopped down flat on his way to get the ball, and then he wandered back and rolled over onto his back so we could rub his belly. I'm going to videotape it tomorrow, because seeing a basset hound run at full speed is something that no one should miss.

For dinner tonight, I grilled some cheeseburgers and made salt potatoes. I planned to make corn, but I forgot to make it, and we had more than enough food already, since it was just Sio and I. This week we'll have rehearsal for our pops concert, a concert at Sio's school, regular choir rehearsal, a field trip to the Mark Twain house...I think that's it. I'm going to give sleep another try now.

*Not his real name.


Je'taime, Audrey

I knew Amelie wasn't adorable just because of the way she was written. I like this quote from an interview that appeared on Yahoo!

We've been talking about this controversy, and I haven't seen anything. I think it's just a few little people, very radical, who speak very loudly," Tautou said. "Each time you make a movie about religion, there's a controversy, because even if we are in countries where there is supposed to be freedom of expression, for some radical people it's a condition that you can be free to speak about everything except religion.



Loki and I have been talking a lot about eating better. A lot of this was triggered by our trip to Paris and Ireland, where the food was uniformly terrific and corn syrup (high-fructose and otherwise) free.

I'm the primary chef in our house, and while I'm nearly obsessed with food (reading cookbooks, watching cooking shows, subscribing to cooking magazines, eating), I'm basically a lazy cook. I have a few recipes that I can do in my sleep, and I tend to lean heavily on them.

And I'm atrocious about side dishes. We usually don't have them at all. I have resolved to do better.

So I found a recipe from a food blog (although I sadly cannot remember which one) for a side dish that sounded great and reasonably healthy. I had to stop in my local market to pick up some ingredients, and then I hit the cheese section of the store.

Right around Easter, Sio and I picked up this amazing sheep's milk cheese, and I have been checking every cheese section in every store ever since, trying to find it again (and, thanks to my early onset Alzheimer's, I cannot recall the name of the cheese). I had no luck yesterday.

But there were several interesting cheeses available, and I pickup up one from a local cheesemaker, Cato Corners Farm.

Cato Corner Farm is a small family farm in Colchester, Connecticut, where the mother-son team of Elizabeth and Mark raises 30 free-range Jersey cows without the use of hormones or subtherapeutic antibiotics.

I picked up a wedge of their Hooligan cheese.

Hooligan is our signature strong, creamy cheese that many food lovers consider to be our best variety. Made in 1.3 - 1.5 lb wheels, Hooligan is a ripe washed-rind cheese, moderately stinky, with a soft creamy interior and a gorgeous orange rind. Its smooth creamy texture highlights the richness of our Jersey milk. Hooligans are bathed twice a week in a mixture of buttermilk and brine. They ripen quickly, developing a full flavor at 2 - 3 months of age. The Hooligan melts beautifully for a fabulously stinky toasted cheese (a bit like raclette). This is a sophisticated cheese for a sophisticated palate! Sold whole in small wheels with basket lines on the rind.

I don't know about the MODERATELY part of the stinkiness - it was pretty damn stinky. It was very creamy and had, at first, a mild taste. But it had a nice, sharpish aftertaste that is making me crave more. It was the first time I've ever had cheese made with raw milk, and I have to say, I was impressed. I'm not a foodie - for all my obsession, I don't have a sophisticated palate, and some foods that are very popular I can't eat because there is too much flavor (oranges, for example) - but I know what I like when it comes to cheese, and I would highly recommend the Hooligan.

ETA: In the world of food blogging, May is "Eat Local" month, so I feel even better about taking a chance on a new cheese. Cato Corner Farm is about 15-18 miles from my front door.


some pictures

Monkey slam dunks

Not sure if she's doing Nixon or asking us to give peace a chance

Prom night

Sio strikes a pose

I must tell you that these pictures do not capture the gorgeousity of both of my daughters, partly because they were taken on a cheapo disposable camera, and partly because I am the suckiest photographer EVAH.


Monday Morning Whinge

Whinge because I prefer the British/Canadian version to the porcine-sounding American version.

I had a therapy appointment on Wednesday, as I detailed below. As it turns out, I had no problem being honest, because the therapist asked me many, many specific questions, basically hitting on everything I listed in my previous post. One of the things we touched on was a previous bout of depression that I suffered after getting laid off from my job. I was out of work for a year, and I basically spent the bulk of that year sleeping. I would wake up to take Sio to school, go home and sleep until it was time to pick her up, and then I would sleep again until it was time to wake up and take her to school again.

I told the Doc that I considered that to be classic depression, but he informed me that it was much worse than that, and that the way I feel now is classic depression.

That should be reassuring, but after that horrible year, I emerged a stronger person. I got my ass in gear and found a job, and it turned out to be a job I loved. I got our finances in order and we managed to buy a house. I hope I don't need to sink so low to feel better again.

I say feel better - I would be satisfied just to feel something that isn't anger or this kind of low-grade sadness, a sadness that doesn't cause me to cry or mope, or stop me from smiling and laughing, but a sadness that cuts me off from feeling much of anything.

I've tried to pay attention to the things I do when I want to feel better. I eat, I go for a drive, I watch TV, I try to read. But it never really works, I cannot feed my feelings of inadequacy with food, I cannot feel less lonely by watching TV, I can't escape me by going for a drive. And despite being aware of this, I don't seem to have the power to change what I'm doing, or find something better to do. I don't want to cry on my children's shoulders, and I don't want to bore my husband or sisters with my undefined, low-grade sadness - besides, they would then pelt me with possible solutions, and I would then feel badly because I can't figure out my own way out of this feeling.

I'm going to go cry myself to sleep now. Whingeing is so boring, but it's my blog, and I need to have someone to talk to, even if it's just myself.


Mother's Day

I'd like to thank my two wonderful daughters, Sio & Monkey, for making me look like I'm good at this motherhood gig. I love you each more than I love my own damn self, and I'm proud of both of you.

I can't really talk to my own mother about how much I love her. She would just push me away and tell me to shut up, because she is a martyr among martyrs, and being recognized for her contributions would negate her martryrdom. She hasn't been a perfect mother, but I can't imagine life without her. I'll tell you one small way my mother still takes care of me - twice a year, she calls me to tell me that it's time to fall back or spring forward, and she drops off batteries so I can replace the ones in our smoke detectors. Thanks, mom.


When you've lost Mel Gibson....

you've really only lost the nutso Aussie fundamentalist Catholic contigent, but still:

Mel Gibson on the similarity between the brutal, human-sacrifice-ordering Mayan rulers in his new movie, "Apocalypto," and the current White House administration: "The fear-mongering we depict in the film reminds me of President Bush and his guys."

via Salon

If Crazy Mel can see what Bush and his guys are doing, maybe, just maybe, there is hope for this country after all.


short list

I have an appointment first thing in the morning with a therapist, and since I have been less than honest with past therapists, I decided to write down everything that I'm feeling right now, so I can hold myself accountable -- and bring the list with me tomorrow so I can remind myself of what's bothering me even though my urge to put the best possible spin on things will be overwhelming.

- child of abusive alcoholic
- unhappy
- cannot focus or remember things
- feel detached
- no energy
- can't deal with day to day living
- can't think clearly
- feeling very Flowers for Algernon - like I get more stupid every day
- restlessness
- stressed out
- let minor problems become crises before I can muster up the energy to deal with them
- rarely have fun anymore (must qualify - I have fun sometimes, but it's not necessarily in the situation I would have chosen)
- unable to make small talk
- trouble controlling my temper, particularly over small things
- no social life outside of family activities
- no fun - used to have hobby (community theater) that brought me a great deal of pleasure and meaning, and I cannot engage in it anymore because of my declining physical condition, preponderence of familial obligations and lack of support
- overeating
- no self-confidence
- used to be good at some activities (creative writing), but I've lost whatever gift I once had
- feel invisible, unwanted, unacknowledged, or only noticed for negative things

I'm taking bets: how many years of therapy will I need to feel better?


A thoughtful gift

My nieces & nephew (although probably more accurately my sister-in-law) bought me a very thoughtful gift: a new, shiny cane. Unlike my boring wooden cane, this one is black with red dragons painted on it, and the handle is a dragon head. It's very spiffy, and I shall use it as my evening cane.


I am now a bigger part of the problem

Since I'm on a roll with self-centered posts, I will share with you that I am now a bigger part of the problem - the problem being the west's reliance on fossil fuels.

You see, for the first time in my 36 years, I am the owner of my very own car, one that is registered in my name and everything. I can't help but feel guilt about putting another set of wheels on the road, but underneath that, I'm excited.


My platonic crush

In real life, I think I must come across as extremely laid back, confident, easy-going, low maintenance, nonchalant, etc. I assume this is the case because other people tend to take me for granted, in a way - they don't worry about me or try to keep me entertained or soothe me with words about how fabulous I am. But inside my mind, I am extremely needy and desperately crave attention and love and adoration from others, even though all those things also make me feel embarassed.

Anyway, the target I currently feel almost desperately in need of attention from is my madrigals teacher (MT). He's just a lovely man. He seems to know exactly how other people in the class need to be treated - the same kids who were shaking in their boots last semester have gained so much confidence. After class lets out, MT is always surrounded by a swarm of my fellow students, all of whom seem to have no problem seeking attention from him.

And I always slink out of the classroom without saying a word, even though I would like to swarm around him and chit-chat, talk politics, maybe go out to coffee with him, or invite him to sing with my choir at our pops concert, or something...

It's a totally platonic crush. I am not sexually attracted to him and I harbor no romantic feelings towards him, I just want to be friends with him, and I can't even figure out how to make friends anymore.

Current State of my Mental Health

If my mental health were a state, it would be Ohio -- teetering on the brink of destruction. I'm not feeling suicidal or anything drastic like that*, but I'm contemplating a nervous breakdown, and it looks better to me than the day to day drudgery of my life.

I have reached a point where I am nearly completely non-functional. I can't muster the energy to sweep the floor or wash the dishes or cook dinner. All I want to do is escape - watch TV, read a book, get on the computer, get in the car and get the hell out - but of course, I bring myself with me, so the problems never go away.

I need professional help, but I've been to therapy before and found it unhelpful. Largely because I bring myself to therapy, and I don't seem to have any power over myself - I remain unable to motivate myself to change.

This probably sounds like it's coming out of nowhere (unless you read my dream interpretation post), and I will admit that I have better than average coping skills, but everything feels like it's falling apart.

If I do end up going to therapy, how can I force myself to be totally honest? I have a tendency to put the best possible spin on my life when I talk to others, and it's a hard habit to break. I was taught to keep secrets at my mothers knee. I know that being aware of a problem is the first step towards solving it, but I have a history of being unable to take a second step.

*On the contrary -- I want to LIVE! and I feel like I'm not really doing that.


Save the Internet

Adam Green says:

The only way to protect Net Neutrality is for Congress to take action now, as it re-writes our nation's telecom laws. Senators Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and Byron Dorgan (D-ND) and Representative Ed Markey (D-MA) have introduced legislation to do this. Mike McCurry and his clients like AT&T are fighting it tooth and nail.

If you are outraged, don't just sit there. First comment below, but then take these steps:

1. SIGN a Net Neutrality petition to Congress:

2. CALL Congress now:

3. BLOG about this issue, or put our "Save the Internet" logo on your Web site:

4. MYSPACE: Add "Save the Internet" as a friend:

5. WRITE A LETTER to Congress:

6. VISIT our coalition Web site for more information, SavetheInternet.com:

The big corporations are trying to steal the internet, and control the content we want to access. This is a bipartisan issue that affects *all* internet users. Basically, they want to limit our freedom to access whatever site we want and line their pockets while they're doing it. Net neutrality must remain in place.

Blogging against disablism

I missed blogging against disablism day yesterday, in part because I misinterpreted the term "disablism" on first glance, and wondered why people were against the disabled. Reading is fundamental!

Disability is going to be a featured player in my life and the lives of everyone in my family a few years down the road. In addition to my own functional disability caused by severe osteoarthritis (which will be cured, in effect, when I get my hip replaced, but will come back when the artificial hip fails, as it inevitably will), my younger sister (MYS) has severe rheumatoid arthritis. She is still in her 20's and already needs both her hips replaced, so it's not a question: she *will* be in a wheelchair when she gets older, as will I.

I worry about MYS from a medical/health/logistical perspective: how will she be able to pay for all her medications, just one of which costs over $1000 a month? Why won't she come to swimming lessons, so she can engage in the best exercise to keep her joints moving? How will she be able to get to the bathroom, which is 12 stairs away?

Loki always worries about MYS from a different perspective: who will love her and make sure she doesn't wither away in loneliness?

And both of those perspectives are important and necessary. And I don't have the answers to either one of them.


May Day

Is it a coincidence that May Day, aka International Workers Day, is not just a reminder of the contribution that the lowly workers of the world make, but a cry for help?