Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Quirk # 572 - My Ears

Here we are 2/3 of the way through January. I said I was going to try to write here – something – every day. The key word, of course, being ‘try.’ So far, if I had to grade myself, I'd give myself a C. I've missed some days, for various reasons. I’m thinking that every other day might be a more realistic goal. I’m afraid if I try to do 365 posts this year, I’ll be scraping the barrel so hard for things to write about that I’ll lose any chance at good substance.

So that’s where that stands.

Our big trip is now only a few days away. I vacillate wildly between panic and good, healthy coping. Today I went to the drugstore (gosh, it’s still weird to live in a place with a drugstore) and picked up not one but TWO kinds of ear plugs in an effort to hedge my bets as far as my ears possibly causing a problem on this flight.

A couple of friends told me about these Earplanes. One of them insisted that his wife had horrible ear pressure issues when flying until she started using these. Now she won’t fly without them. Being the obsessive creature that I am, I read a lot of reviews online about them. Most said that they work very well, but a significant number also said that because they’re silicone rubber and not foam, they can be a little uncomfortable when wedged in the ear for long periods.

I don’t even like to use ear buds for that very reason, so I decided it might be wise to pick up an alternative so that I have options when the time comes.

No, I don’t care that they are pink or that they are “women’s.” Actually, I’d prefer they were purple. Ha! I chose these solely because they say “ultra-soft” instead of just “soft.” Someone who knows what they’re doing as far as ears and planes told me that super soft foam ear plugs are wonderful for

It seems ridiculous to need to buy two kinds of ear plugs for a simple three-hour flight (let alone to write an entire post about it). However, I know myself well enough to know that the better prepared I am, and the more options I have with me, the less anxious I will be. And since I’m fully aware that at least half of this problem is due to anxiety, I find it worthwhile to go to some hassle to bring that anxiety down a bit.

I do have one more weapon in my arsenal – that’ll be another post! Do you have any tips for flying with finicky ears?

Tuesday, January 20, 2015


The lame thing about feeling the need to purge the blog every so often to remove the accumulation of personal information is that it means I lose great old posts I would love for people to read. The cool thing about that is I can tell the same story more than once and no one will be the wiser. Well, unless I have long-time readers who might remember. But what are the chances of that, really, as much as I’ve neglected this space since kiddo was born?

Here comes a confession. Are you ready?

I am completely and totally, unabashedly (well sort of) and passionately addicted to Starbucks hot chocolate. I don’t drink coffee because it reminds me of armpits, so instead I drink hot chocolate. I don’t consume caffeine in any other form either, so the hot chocolate has just enough caffeine to give me a ‘buzz’ without making me act like a meth head on a case of Red Bull. Plus, hello, they are incredibly tasty.

I went on a three-week sugar detox back in October (that’s a whole other post) and did not have a single hot chocolate for 32 whole days. It was the best of times; it was the worst of times. I finally did have one after the detox was over, and then of course slid back to having them pretty frequently, because they just make my life a lot more enjoyable.

This morning I was sleepy and my stress level has been up anyway due to my impending flight, so I really wanted a hot chocolate. Alas, life happened, and there was no time for a Starbucks run. I found myself quite agitated! I’m not a morning person anyway, so on tough days I really rely on that little pick-me-up, just like most other people rely on their coffee.

As much as I may realize that my dependence on hot chocolate is kind of a bad sign, it doesn’t reduce the craving at all. And I know that if I don’t indulge some of those cravings, they will eventually become giant growly monsters and much harder to subdue.

I may or may not have run to Starbucks on my lunch break… ahem…!

So tell me, dear Starbucks, what illicit super-addictive drug do you put in your chocolate syrup?!?

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The Best Friend I've Never Met

Somewhere around 15 years ago, I was a young(er) person with a job and an apartment (shared with hubby, who was only my friend then) and so much free time it was ridiculous. If only I realized at the time how much free time I had!

One of my pastimes then was playing games online. Yes, I'm a closet nerd. Kind of a big one. Anyway, at the time I was playing a game called EverQuest. It was a wonderful way to spend my dark winter evenings, and because it was an online game, I could even claim to be somewhat social while I was doing it. I did meet lots of great people, many of whom I'm still friends with now.

But there is one who stands out.

If you don't like nerdy things, just go ahead and close your browser now.

I was hunting one night with my elf character in the Lake of Ill Omen. (How is it that I remember the names 15 years later but I cannot remember what I walked into a different room for?) went to a merchant to sell some of my loot. Sitting in the tower that housed the merchant was a fine specimen of Barbarian manliness.

Yes, I'm laughing as I type this. Completely hilarious that I remember all of this.

I don't know if I was bored or what, but I decided to strike up a conversation with this guy. We started chatting about the game and such, and soon we were having a great time talking about all sorts of different things.

Eventually, I learned that the person behind that character was actually a woman, not a man, and that she lived four time zones away near Boston.

Over the course of the next months and years, we grew so very close. It started with a silly video game and a couple of twenty-somethings on opposite ends of the country. She was in college and living with her boyfriend; I was working and living with a guy I was stuck in Friendville with. 

Today, we are both happily married with kids and houses and pets and white picket fences. Well, we WOULD have white picket fences if such a thing existed. We compare notes and commiserate on motherhood, wifehood, life in suburbia, being working moms, the whole bit.

I can easily say that she is my closest friend. She is kind and thoughtful and funny and just talking to her makes me feel great, no matter what else is going on. She understands me on every level (well, as much as anyone can ever understand me!) and she might be the only person on the planet that I can tell anything to - ANYTHING - and not even worry she will think less of me. Sometimes we talk every day and sometimes we go two months without talking. And when we do, we pick right back up where we left off as if no time had passed. Our relationship is so special to me.

So it's that much more bizarre, and kind of a shame, that we have never met. I've been thinking about that a lot lately. As we approach my first flight in seven years, I wonder if one of the payoffs of this trip will be the freedom for me to travel more, and therefore to finally meet my Lisa. I hope so.

The other day we were talking about stuff - just stuff - and I made a couple of self-deprecating jokes about my weight. I'm very hard on myself about my weight. She stopped the conversation immediately and said something like, "okay I let the first one go and there's another one, knock that off." She might be the only person in the world who can say that to me without me either blowing her off or reacting in a negative way. Immediately I knew she was right and I changed my thought process. Just like that, even if only for a short time, she made me a better person. She does that a lot.

I told her about how I'd read somewhere that people in my situation can benefit from a vision board, anchored by a picture of the person as a child. Around that picture, you are supposed to place other pictures of family members, or fit people, or inspirational quotes, or anything that motivates you to be better at whatever you are working on. If you start being mean to yourself, you're supposed to look at the picture of that child and ask yourself if you'd let someone talk to that child that way. The whole concept is pretty powerful. We talked about how that seemed like a wonderful idea, but that I had just never gotten around to it.

Shortly thereafter, our conversation ended (not because of the previous comments!). 

A little while later, I found this in my email with a caption explaining that she made this for me so that I could have my vision board and not have it be one of my "to-do's" anymore, looming over me like another chore on a long list.

I opened this email at work and I admit that I started to cry.

She had nabbed that picture from my Facebook account and created this mini vision board from it. For no other reason other than to make me feel better about myself.

How lucky am I to have someone who cares so much about me and with no agenda? Who would have thought that a couple of 21-22 year old girls who met on a video game would have this relationship 15 years later?

Definitely not me.

I came home and printed this, then laminated it, and it's been on my kitchen table since. I'll hang it up once I figure out where it should go, but for now the table is the perfect place for it. I see it multiple times a day and I smile and think maybe - just maybe - I am worth this.

And I'm not sure anyone could convince me of that like she does.

Thursday, January 15, 2015


After living in our new city for well over a year, we finally made it to the public library for the first time a couple weeks ago. I really wanted to get Aidan to a library sooner than later, now that he's only months away from being a reader himself. Of course, I wanted to do it much earlier, but that pesky life thing gets in the way.

I was pretty impressed with the library here. It's larger than the one back home and has a lot more research materials. And the kid area is great! But I admit the library back home does have a certain charm that this one did not. Anyway, we were introducing the kid to the kid room and all the wonderful things that libraries have. I wandered around a bit to check out the kids' books and just happened to walk by this one.

Oh, hello huge pre-teen flashback!


I loved these books! I had at least... gosh... maybe 40 of them?? Maybe more?? I read them over, and over, and over again. I wondered if I had grown up in a more densely populated area like the girls in those books, could I have started my own Baby-Sitters Club? I would have loved it.

You know what the funniest part is?

I darn near checked this book out. 

Then I realized I'm now in my late 30s (how did this happen?) and that might be weird.

Actually, I'm okay being weird. I just need to work up to checking out tween books!

Monday, January 12, 2015

One of Those Annoying Mysterious Posts

I can't go into detail, but this graphic I saw on Facebook this morning sums up some stuff I've been thinking about lately.

I've always considered myself to be a forgiving person who gives people the benefit of the doubt wherever possible and is willing to keep giving infinitely even when not much is coming back my direction. I have always felt like this is one of my best qualities.

I don't know if it's that I'm getting older, or that now I have the duty of protecting someone else's heart in addition to my own, or what. But I've started to lose my willingness to be in one-way relationships. (Obviously I'm not speaking of romantic relationships, as I am still quite happily married, thank you very much!) 

I mean friends and acquaintances and coworkers and even relatives in some cases. I just feel like I've reached a point in my life where I don't want to devote any more time and energy to people who give nothing back or, worse, actually TAKE even more than I give.

Don't get me wrong, I don't ask much. Basic courtesy is about as much as I ever expect; anything beyond that is a welcome bonus. Like communication, for instance. If I leave you a voice mail or send you a text or a Facebook message or a carrier pigeon or whatever, please find the time to respond in some way when it's convenient for you to do so. It doesn't have to be right away and it doesn't have to be a big long response. But know that if you ignore me for weeks or months on end, you're on my list. If you're unpredictable in a way that messes with my heart or that of my kid, you're on my list. 

What list, you ask?

Well, the list works a lot like a list on my TiVo box. When I delete a show, it goes into the deleted shows folder. It doesn't go away completely; it's recoverable from there. But it doesn't take up any active space. If it becomes active again, it comes right back as if nothing happened. And if it stays there for a long period of time, it eventually falls out of that list into the abyss, never able to be restored. Just gone.

I've had to put a couple people in the deleted folder lately. I hate doing it. I really, really hope they find their way back into the active folder. But I'm starting to lose hope.

Is this bad? Would it be better for me (and/or my kid) to keep trying indefinitely and to just be the bigger person all the time even if it is never reciprocated? Does this mean I am turning heartless? I wonder about that. I don't want to be a cold person. What would my Aunt Betty say about this?

Sunday, January 11, 2015


Well, I made it nine days with writing each day. That is a pretty good run. Then, yesterday, I blew it! I can't truthfully say that I didn't have time to write, or that I couldn't think of anything to write, or that I was too busy helping old ladies cross the street.

It's just that I completely forgot.

Which brings me to one of the hardest things about parenthood, at least for me.

I don't feel smart anymore!

I used to be so darn smart. I was in a gifted program in elementary school, I got good grades all through high school (except chemistry, because yuck) and I quit after my first year of college not because it was too hard, but because there was nowhere to park. Okay, that's a really grossly oversimplified explanation of that, but the parking situation was a factor. What can I say? I didn't want to walk a quarter mile to class at -40ยบ.


I miss my brain. The sharp one that remembered the birthdays, anniversaries and various other details about virtually everyone I knew. The one that never needed to make a list for grocery shopping and never forgot where the car keys were.

Where did it go?

I remember back when all my friends started to have kids, they used to warn me about 'pregnancy brain.' The spacey condition that happens with pregnancy and never goes away after the kid is born. I was on the lookout. Except, obviously, pregnancy was not so much in the plan for me, so I've decided this is actually just... 

Mommy Brain.

True story. This kid is my everything. And since the day he was born, I am forgetful and scatterbrained and so easily distracted. Don't get me wrong, it's completely worth it, but I miss that sharpness.

He's four now, so tell me, will I ever get my brain back!? 

Friday, January 9, 2015

October Baby

The other day, I saw one of those goofy little articles somewhere on social media, you know the type. This one was about how to get the most out of Netflix. I thought Netflix was pretty straightforward, however it did have a few good tips. One was to create different profiles within the account for each person who uses it. I kind of thought this was silly at first, but decided to try it. I was instantly glad that I did! You can start by rating a few movies and from there, the service starts to recommend movies it thinks you would like. So far it's pointed me toward several movies I never would have run across otherwise.

The very first one i decided to try was called October Baby.

I was surprised to learn that this movie had an adoption theme. How funny. Trailer below:

Spoilers ahead, so stop reading if you don't want them!

I'm not going to type out the plot here, but let's just say that Hannah is a young lady who learns that not only is she adopted, she was actually a survivor of a failed abortion. Needless to say, things become very complex for her when she learns about it. 

The hardest part of the story line, for me, was that for the first half of the movie, her adoptive parents were jerks. The type that give the rest of us a bad name. I almost stopped watching it a couple of times, just because I was so uncomfortable with that. But as things unfolded, I started to see that they were scared and really, though they may have been going about it the wrong way, they were trying to protect their daughter.

I don't want to give away the ending, in case you decide to watch it. And I recommend that you do, because it was an excellent movie. Definitely an eye opener, which is always a good thing.

Don't let me fool you into thinking Netflix recommendations are all perfect though. Because I like crime movies, it pointed me tonight to a movie that was based on a true story about a husband and wife who were, well, just doing really terrible things to other people.

Okay, okay.  I totally watched it.

I can't help it!  I am fascinated by how the human mind works and what goes wrong to produce people like those in that last movie I mentioned. What can I say, it's a sickness. Or a blessing. Or something.

Go watch October Baby!!