Friday, December 31, 2010

Deal the cards and dole out the monies!

As far back as I can remember, a huge part of my Dad's side of the family gathering for Christmas Eve included playing Dummy Rummy around the big dining room table. I did a Google search for Dummy Rummy and came up with several sets of rules that vary from how we play, so I'll just include our house rules in this post. If you ever come up with us to the North GA mountains for Christmastime frivolity, you'll know how to play and can jump right in!

Being allowed to play Dummy Rummy was like a rite of passage into adulthood in my family. No one under 13 was EVER allowed to play their own hand and I can remember being about 8 or 10, under the table with my drawing paper and pencils and Grandmama's dachshund, Duchess and listening to all the hilarity going on above me. It was always a packed room, with Granddaddy at the end, and Grandmama on his right (they didn't do it on purpose, but that's always where she sat). The other family crowded in around- My dad and very rarely my mom, Dad's sisters Gail and Sally, their husbands who are both named Jim, Gail's daughter Laura and post 1990 Laura's husband Matt, and Sally's children Amy and Nathan. So altogether, a minimum of 10 people, not including me.

The game starts with 4 decks of cards, Jokers removed. Everyone gets 3 pennies or other trinkets to use as "money". We usually used pennies, but sometimes we would use bread twist ties or paper clips, etc.

The dealer shuffles the cards and deals to his left a total of 11 cards for the first 6 hands. The last hand gets 12 cards, as it is more difficult than the previous hands. A set is 3 or more cards of the same card (any suit), and a run is a sequence of 4 or more cards of the same suit (3,4,5,6 of hearts, for example).

After the dealer deals the cards, he places one up on a discard pile, which is then free to the player on his/her left to pick up if they so choose. If they want it, they may pick it up and then must discard a card they do not need into the discard pile, which is then of course free to the player on their left.

If, however, they do NOT pick up the card that was free to them and wish to draw from the remaining cards of the 4 decks (the draw pile), they must offer the unwanted card up for "sale". Any player may then "spend" one of their pieces of "money" to obtain the card, and must also take 2 additional cards from the top of the draw pile along with it.

Our house rules say that generally if two players want to buy the card, first purchase option goes in playing order around the table, but sometimes if a player is not paying attention, the card may be bought by someone further around the table and play resumed without the closer player's knowledge (the key is to PAY ATTENTION and speak up if you want to buy!). Once a player has used all 3 of their "monies", they can no longer buy a card out of turn and may only use the discards that are free to them, so using the 3 monies wisely is key. Each player gets their 3 monies back at the end of each hand to use in the upcoming hand.

  • Two Sets
  • One Set, One Run
  • Two Runs
  • Two Sets, One Run
  • Three Sets
  • Two Runs, One Set
  • Three Runs

When a player has the required sets and/or runs for a hand, they may lay their cards out in front of them (called "on the board") during their turn. They either draw, or take their free card and then put down their set and runs for the other players to see. The object then is to go out to win the hand. If any other players are on the board, the player just down and for the remainder of their turns, may play on other players cards. Once a card has been played, however, it may not be reconfigured into any other sequence. (Example: if a player has gone on the board during the hand of 2 sets and 1 run and their board has a set of 3s that includes a 3 of clubs, a set of Ks and a run of 6,7,8,9 of diamonds, and the other player has a set of 6s, a set of Qs and a 4,5,6,7 of clubs, no one may remove the 3 of clubs from the set and play it in the run of clubs in order to play a 2 of clubs.)

Usually, all of the players get on the board before someone goes out, but not always. The play continues to the dealers left, with players buying as they need to and trying to go out by either playing or discarding their last card. When someone does win the hand, the points are tallied thus:
Aces- 15 points
8 through Kings- 10 points
2 through 7- 5 points

Dealing moves to the left with each hand.
At the end of all 7 hands, the player with the lowest score is the winner.

With so many people playing, I can remember hearing my aunts both be on the verge of being able to go on the board or out or both, if they could only get ONE card that eluded them. There were always cries of protest when their "Miracle Card" was either up for sale and they had run out of monies to buy, or it was snatched up by the player it was free to, or a buyer quicker on the draw than them.
Sally: "THAT'S my Miracle Card!!!"
Laura: "Too bad! I got it first!"
Gail: "Throw me something good, Amy."
(Amy plays)
Gail: "That wasn't it!"

It was so much fun to listen to. :)

I hope that's a complete picture of the game. I'm looking forward to the next get together to play, even though I normally get caught with a mitt-full of Aces before I can go on the board and therefore end up losing spectacularly.

A lot of stuff in a short amount of time!

The year isn't over yet, and it seems to want to deal us a few parting blows before it finally leaves.

Christmas Eve we made it up to Blue Ridge without incident- until we pulled into Grandmama's driveway. The car sputtered and died like it had run out of gas. Jake immediately assumed I'd forgotten to reset the trip meter (the gas gauge hasn't worked since we got the car- bad omen? Yeah, I think so.) but I DID set it and we should have had another 100 miles to go before we needed to fill up again. So we rolled the car out of the driveway and onto the road shoulder, where it is still sitting until Jake can rent a tow dolly and go bring it back to Atlanta to be fixed. Sigh.

After a trek up the steep 1/4 of a mile driveway (Grandmama lives on a mountainside.), we were all there safe and sound. A few walks by the adults to and fro got the presents, overnight bags and necessities from the car and into the house. My aunt and uncle took us in their van to the Christmas Eve church service at Grandmama's church in nearby McCaysville. The service was beautiful, as always, only this year Emily being a year older was much easier to handle. Last year she begged a piece of candy from my aunt and then choked on her own spit and, already having a cold, gagged and started to puke as I rushed her past the violin septet and out into the vestibule. We spent the rest of the service playing peek-a-boo. As we settled into the pew, I reminded Jake of last year's fun and told him if she needs to be taken out of the service again, it was his turn. But she was a little angel, sitting on his lap and watching the service quietly the whole time. The only disturbance came towards the end during the communion when the wafers were being passed. As Jake handed the tray to me, Emily protested being skipped over- "I want a piece of gum!" The wafers do look an awful lot like chiclets. But they tasted like styrofoam. The very end of the service was singing "Silent Night" with everyone holding a candle. The song in A Cappella with the house lights low and the candles glowing is so pretty and my favorite part of the Christmas Eve service.

Once we got back to Grandmama's house, we set about getting everyone bedded down to sleep. Jake and I took opposite couches in the family room and the younger children were on a pallet of blankets on the rug between the couches. Emily's allergies started acting up and she got all cough-y and snotty, so we didn't get much solid sleep. In the morning, my aunt made a fantastic breakfast and afterward we opened gifts. I'll have a separate post soon about the books my Aunt Sally made for Gail, Grandmama and me. I can't do it justice without some pictures. The snow was falling thick and fast the entire time and once we had finished opening the gifts there was a good 3 inches on the ground. It was Jake and the children's first ever white Christmas, and the first I had seen since I was a very little girl. In the afternoon, we made no effort to get out with Grandmama's car, since we hadn't called to figure out getting our car taken care of yet, but Gail and Sally and Jim and Amy wanted to get going since they had pets at home and then other family to see. Jim tried to get their van out, but by then the snow was just too deep and packed down. So they were snowed in with us!

They came back in and later we played a game of cards, the rules for which I will make another post about. It's a fun game, and well worth sharing. Altogether, Grandmama's house got 8 inches of accumulated snow. The kids had never seen so much snow at once. The other family were finally able to get out Sunday afternoon, with help from neighbors. While the kids played outside, I was able to finish typing my resume and get it ready to send out everywhere. We stayed on with Grandmama until Tuesday afternoon around 4, when the weather warmed up to a balmy 45 degrees and most of the snow and ice on the roadways had melted or was at least passable. I was still VERY nervous on the curves that are semi dangerous to navigate in summer weather, let alone iced over. However, it didn't take long to get down to the main roads that were clear from all of the previous traffic and salt/sand trucks. I was eventually able to pry my fingers out of the upholstery and loosen some of the muscles that were jamming my shoulders up by my ears.

We've been here at Grandmother Ray's house since Tuesday night. The kids got fantastic gifts from Jake's aunts and Grandmother and we've had a great time. I'm working on Christmas gifts that didn't get finished for other family that we will see after the new year. I'm not looking forward to going home, after the drama that's been going down, particularly last Wednesday night. I can't divulge details, but suffice it to say that our season of living at Grandmother Cross' house is winding to a close. I don't know when we will leave, but it will be 2011. Hopefully sooner than later in the year. We're looking at a few different places, but nothing will be for sure until we address getting the car fixed and some other matters into place. However, while I look for a full time position and childcare, AND expand my Avon customer base and business, I will be simultaneously selling anything that's not nailed down and packing up. I want to be moved by the end of the spring at the very latest.

2010 has been a rough year, and I'm ready to kick it in the butt on it's way out and have a MUCH better year in 2011. We continue to go to counseling, and it is helping get us where we need to be to end the drama and become functioning, healthy working adults.

That's all for now, as we get ready to ring in the New Year with Jake's family. I'll be posting again soon. Love to you all. :)

Monday, December 20, 2010

Because 10 times out of 9, homemade is way awesomer than store bought!

Only 4 days until Christmas Eve. FOUR!!! So why haven't I written a post in 3 weeks? That's right- because I've been getting ready for CHRISTMAS! I LOVE Christmastime! I love the decorations and the way that total strangers seem to generally be a little nicer to each other in the anticipation of spending time with family and friends. It's fantastic. It's also when all chaos breaks loose at my temporary job and we're engraving literally HUNDREDS of gift items eachday.

But when I'm not at work, I'm getting my own gifts for friends and family made. All of my artsy craftsy experience shifts into overdrive and I sew, stitch, bake and bead my way up to the last minute for everyone on my list. Somewhere around college, I actually made enough money to buy gifts and my family was a bit let down. They were all "What, you're too good to make us cool stuff now?!" So I was all "Fine, I'll just keep making stuff for you in the coming years instead of having to brave the mall then, shall I?" And I've done it ever since. Last year it was quilt square throw pillows for the women, each according to favorite colors, and crocheted scarves in the NCAA Football team color of their loyalty for the men. Before that it was framed quilled art pieces and embroidered handkerchiefs. Embroidered lavender filled drawer sachets and ... I can't remember what I did for the guys. Tins of homemade cookies, I believe.

So this year I'm feverishly working away, which hasn't left much time for blogging. But I hope to make up for December's sparseness with quite a few entries in January. I have a list of topics and memory joggers going to keep me well supplied with post fodder.

I can't give away yet everything I've made as gifts yet. I don't want to ruin the surprise, but I CAN show you one thing. The cutest thing I've done so far (ever) is a plush elephant wearing a tutu:

I have several more to sew for other recipients, so that's all for now. I won't likely post again until after all the holiday madness, so everyone have a MERRY CHRISTMAS AND HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

1/2/11 UPDATE:
Here is the other too stinkin' cute elephant that I made for a young cousin. :)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

When my Regency obsession and Goodwill bargains collide...

I'm supposed to be working on Christmas gifts. I have a 16x20 counted cross stitch that is only 1/4 of the way done.I have a lap blanket to crochet. I have felt dolls, stuffed purple elephants, tins of cookies, glass bead bracelets and historic accessory replicas to make. I have only 2 weeks left, and I only have limited hours in the day because I have a job and I have kids. And I have ADD. (When pastor said at Thanksgiving to be thankful for all the things we have, somehow I don't think this was quite what he meant.)

But I love to sew soooooooo much. And I love Regency costumes soooooooo much too! So when I was at Goodwill yesterday and found these curtains/drapes for less than $10/pair, I just couldn't say no...

I've made 2 Regency dresses so far. The first one I ever did was for Halloween, to wear to the GA Tech October dance. (For more about the Tech dances, click here.) The dress took 2 days to make- well, a day and a half, actually, since I cut it out on Tuesday and finished it on Wednesday. I'd say total construction time was around 10 hours max. Here are a few pics of it:

I haven't had time to do any professional photos of me in it. (If you've read this far, I really don't think I need to explain why...) But I'm hoping to do some in the new year and also in the spring.

The second attempt at it was much easier after making the first. I made this purple one for a dear friend of mine who shares my Regency/costuming addiction and regularly supports my habit by letting me borrow the A&E version of Pride & Prejudice, etc., etc. I also haven't been able to take any photos of her wearing it, but those will come later. Here it is on my dress form before I gave it to her:

The construction time for this one was roughly 5 hours.

I have to FORCE myself to work on Christmas gifts instead of cutting out a Regency gown pattern from the new fabric! It's an amazing motivator. Which puts me in a rather desperate and pitiful light, but- meh, I don't really care.

So there is your sneak peek at what's keeping me busy. And a caffiene sustained insomniac. ;)
Stay tuned- I'm not going to be able to resist sewing the new gowns and posting pics for very long!

Monday, December 6, 2010

Sailing in a Sea of Stars...

I watched the third Pirates of the Caribbean movie again the other night. I think of the 3, it's my favorite in terms of visual effects and the score. Of course, being the finale, it likely has an unfair edge over the previous 2 films. Momentum, adrenaline and conflict climax and resolution count for a lot. But visually it is stunning. I can't find a picture of it online, but one of my favorite scenes is where the chinese junk that the heroes are in, to rescue Jack from Davy Jones' Locker, glides through sea so smooth it looks like glass and reflects the stars overhead.

I wish I knew more about the constellations. With the exception of a security light, we have a really clear view of the night sky at our house. However, because I don't spend much time outside after dark for having to corral kids into bed and such, I don't get much opportunity to study the stars. I can usually find the Big Dipper and Little Dipper after a few minutes of searching, but the one constellation I can find straightaway is Orion. For some reason, above all other constellations, the 3 stars of Orion's belt and then the points of his sword and sheild are the first to catch my eye.

"The Hunter" in Greek mythology; the guiding stars to find Sirius, the dog star; Orion is also present in my own life, personally. It is the middle name of a dear friend whom I have known these 15 years at least. I think about him whenever I look up and see the Orion of the skies.

You may have noticed that I have a widget here on my blog that shows random Hubble Space Telescope images. A few days ago when writing my last post, this image from the Orion Nebula came up and I had to save and share it:

After a quick Google search, I found these other 3 images of the Orion Nebula on the NASA site:

Saturday, December 4, 2010

At least my figure isn't the only thing that's well rounded....

Well, that isn't entirely true. I'm not as plump as I probably imagine, though after carrying two children there is a definite personal "Battle of the Bulge" going on (the "bulge" stubbornly settling round my middle.) Enough of self depreciating comments; that's not at all what I started to write about anyway.

No, the subject of this post is how I am so happy in my variety of interests and abilities. I have many personal insecurities, some self induced and others put upon me by someone else at one time or another in my past, but somehow I have managed to stay, for a large portion of the time, contented and happy in myself, my pursuits, my friends and my lot in life. Things aren't by any means perfect, but I have so much that I am interested in and so many obvious blessings, how can I help but be content? My last post, concerning my friend Marilyn and all of our artistic exploits, came very near showing in a complete list those things which make me feel so accomplished and happy, at least as far as ability and skills go.

My father was always nagged by my mother to escape the downfalls of being "a jack of all trades and master of none". I suppose in her naive and sheltered experiences, she thought this as good advice, to keep him focused on his primary priority and concern: his family and meeting their needs. (Which he did and died doing.) But the more I learn of the world- and I grant that it is no close relation to the world either of my parents were brought up in- the more I see that to have only one chosen career or skill set in life is to assiduously cheat yourself out of countless blessings and opportunities that you may otherwise have had.

I'm not at all suggesting that a person can't know from an early age what calling and direction their lives should take and follow it whole heartedly, I only question the wisdom in willfully putting on blinders (metaphorically) and creating a tunnel vision which shuts one out from so many good and pleasing things that life can have to offer. I have seen this exemplified in several career choices. Ballet, for one. Every dedicated dancer I have known has given up much of life for the sake of practices, rehearsals and recitals. And while I am enchanted and enthralled at the beauty and seeming ease with which they present their piece, I know that it comes at a price. The same can be said of professional ice skaters. I always loved to watch the ice skating competitions during the winter olympics. But to be the top in technical marks, it's time on the ice over any friends, dating or social life of any kind, any hobbies and anything else imaginable which might take away from obtaining that perfect jump execution and landing for top marks.

I admire dedication and discipline. I often wish I had more of those character traits in me. And then I realize how dull and spiritless I would have become. Variety truly does add spice and interest to life. I've done ballet (I was 12). I've been on the ice (and managed to stay upright, if not do any triple lutzes). But I've also participated in reenacting US history, knowing how to swing dance, I can cook and bake tolerably well, I play 2 instruments and sing, there is that list of visual art skills from the last post, I am well read and educated on a variety of topics, and have the desire to add more skills, more interests. Learning to speak French. Writing a novel and having it published. Work in or run a tea shop. The possibilities are endless!

I hope, at the end of it all, I will have made my father proud of me. He always said he wanted first for me to be well and happy. Though I have had my share of heartaches (well, perhaps more than my fair share, lately), I hope that anyone who gets to know me will see a woman who loves life and all of the wonderful things in it, and is happy. I am pleased beyond telling to know how to do so many interesting and diverse things, and be able to talk to nearly anyone, no matter their age or situation, about virtually anything. I don't know everything, of course, and I don't wish to. I only want to experience as many good things in my life as I can. After all, it only happens once. It would be a pity to miss it.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better...

I have this fantastic friend, Marilyn, whom I met at a Civil War reenactment in Alabama some 8 or 9 years ago. (Holy cow! Has it really been that long?!) Marilyn spent her childhood and early adulthood in England. She has this MARVELOUS British accent that even "Southernese" can't override. Anyway, one of the reasons we connect so well is because we are both ridiculously artistic and creative. I was in school for graphic art/animation when I met her, and although she was in school for biology/science education, she always had some painting or something she was doing.

Over the course of our friendship, I've noticed that we feed off of each other's creative inspirations and have developed this sort of friendly competition to see who can be experienced and able in more mediums. It goes something like this:

Except I forgot to add "Quilting" and "Drawing" to both of our lists. And "Photography" to mine. And "Collage" to hers. But you see my point. And it's constantly changing up. Like, the reason Paper Quilling is on her list and Sewing is on mine is because we taught each other. There are things we both want to add (Glass Blowing for her and Calligraphy for me, for starters.) that we haven't been able to get around to yet. There are also the things on the list that we know how to do, we just haven't done it in a long time. (Knitting for me, Paper Quilling for her, I'm sure.)

And what's fun is that even WITHIN the skills there is that secret desire to gain an edge. Take sewing, for example: "Check out this new Civil War ball gown I made!" "Yeah? That's pretty, but look at this Regency day dress I just finished." "Oh, that is nice. But look at this Rev War pelisse I'm doing." (And so it goes, on and on and on. :D)

I love it. I wouldn't be half so talented in all of these creative and visually beautiful arts if I didn't have her right there along side me. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go find a class for basket weaving or rug braiding, before her list gets much longer than mine... ;)

How I came up with "The Modest Peacock" as my Blog title

If you've been following/reading my blog lately, you'll notice that I was finally able to move from "Jenny Ray's Blog" (BORING!) to something more attention catching. Thanks to many friends who offered suggestions for title names. We considered everything from "Poetic Ponderings" to "I lost 457 lbs in 2 weeks! Ask me how!". The first, while making nice use of alliteration, is inaccurate due to me not writing much poetry, ever. The second didn't make it because it's just a plain out lie. I would have died 4 times. It might have gotten some brief traffic to the site, though.

Finally, I thought of how a lot of my posts are about my struggle with pride- a healthy, quality-of-life-standard kind of pride in myself that is important and vital to success, versus proud to the point of being a conceited, vain and an insufferable know-it-all whose comeuppance is sure to happen at any moment and in the most painful way possible. I thought of all the metaphors associated with pride and of course one of the first images to surface was the proud peacock. I'm not going to lie; I love peacocks. I love using their feathers in all sorts of art projects and there are several shades of blue that I am convinced can't be found anywhere else in nature besides peacock plumage. But I wonder if maybe human society isn't being fair to the Pavo Cristatus by associating it with conceit and vanity. And the male peafowl is the one with the splendiferous tail. What of the female? Is she as proud and snobby as her mate? Perhaps she is not only the opposite in sex, but also character/personality trait. (Perhaps I need to get more
sleep and not eat pizza after midnight so I don't over-think these things...)
I did some research on the female peafowl. Here is a quote from a great web source: "A peahen may lay eggs only once a year, or several times a year. It has a lot to do with her stress factor. A happy peahen will lay more eggs, more often, while a stressed peahen may not lay any eggs at all, or just one or two only once.The incubation period is 28 days. She will sit on her nest constantly. Keep noise and activity to a minimum. A peahen will abandon a nest if she feels that too much commotion is going on."

I feel the same way much of the time. With all of the stress at home (issues with my mother and my husband), I often feel disconnected from my children. Of course, that's where the similarity ends!!! I would never, EVER abandon my babies for anything in the world. I just thought it was interesting that this beautiful bird requires peace and security for optimal health. So do I!

Getting back to the "modest" part- I want to be beautiful. I do. I don't have some of the self image issues that I used to. I've overcome many of those insecurities. Not all of them, but many. I don't look in the mirror in the morning and tell myself I'm fat and ugly. That's just not true. For the most part, I like how I look. The more important beauty, that which comes from within, is even more important to me. I want to have those character traits that people around me admire. Honesty, loyalty, kindness, love, compassion, wit, generosity, forbearance...
I think that the analogy of a peacock- beautiful and confident- being modest and humble is perfect imagery for my blog. It pretty much sums up how I want my life to be.

So I hope you like it. :)

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Why is it these things all avalanche at once?!

Why is the reality of a stable and independent life such a difficult thing to master?? Here in the last year (more accurately in the last six months), there have been a smothering number of things that make me wonder what the hell happened to make my life such a completely opposite representation of what I always wanted it to be.

After the collapse of my life as I knew it, back at the end of January of this year, I somehow managed to grope my way through the blood chilling black of disbelief and seek professional help through pastoral counseling and relational/marital/familial therapy. To say it's been a rough trip through every gut-wrenching emotion that would possibly pale in comparison to actually having my heart cut out of my chest and skewered half a dozen times while I plead for the pain and agony to end, would be... well it would be more than melodramatic and completely over the top. I'm a coward when it comes to physical pain (I scream and pitch a fit when I get a paper cut), so I probably seriously can't make that comparison. But it did (does) hurt a bloody hell of a lot! (Grouchy eyebrows emoticon face for emphasis!) ---> >:(

Yet through the pain and the inky black come points of light and comprehension. Breakthroughs, revelations, epiphanies, call them what you will. Things that seem so simple and taken for granted every day by the majority of my peers present themselves to me as hurdles to be scaled. Slowly, basic adult life concepts are beginning to come into focus. Actually sitting down and figuring out what the absolute minimum amount of pay we have to achieve in income, to be able to obtain a unit of our own living space and not live with family, for instance. Most of my friends were processing this a good decade or so ago. Not me- I was spending the weekends getting drunk with my boyfriend at Civil War reenactments and the weeks skipping my college classes when they got too boring or when the environment of the school (being where my Dad spent most of his time for several years, before he died) got to be too much for my immature little emotional self to endure.
[Just to clarify, I didn't flunk out of college. I made straight "A"s when I actually attended class. In my third year, it did become apparent that the school administration (the 4th in 3 years) had no idea who I was or who actually promised me that scholarship (that would be the president of the school in administration #1, but administration #4 seemed to have no idea who that was or how to contact him). So they told me I could pay for my last year ($25k. I didn't exactly have that floating around in the couch cushions...) or leave. So I left. But I didn't flunk out.]

A huge epiphany happened last night at around 11 p.m. I was Facebook chatting with a friend who lives in Savannah and I was telling her about how I'm getting ready for Christmas and stuff. We were talking about a mutual friend of ours, and what I would be making her. I was sending my friend links to photos of similar things like what I would be making. Then I got completely distracted and in a matter of minutes went from Christmas to crafting to ... a chandelier made out of teacups! (Here it is, if you want to see it.) This is when the epiphany hit me with the impact of a meteor burning through the atmosphere and slamming into the side of a mountain in the Rockies: I have the attention span of a GNAT! I can't freaking focus on more than anything for 30 seconds! My clothes are everywhere because as soon as I try to start putting them up, I notice that I need to make my bed, so I try to start doing that, and then I see the bedside table with the cup from yesterday still on it that needs to be taken downstairs and put in the dishwasher but on my way down I set it on the bathroom counter and leave it because I saw kids clothes that need to be put in the dirty clothes basket- why did I even GO into the bathroom on my way to the kitchen with the glass??? GOD SAVE THE QUEEN, MY ENTIRE LIFE IS LIKE THIS!!!!! :::Panic mode initiated. Seriously.:::

The rest of the epiphany came a little later, while I was reading one of my favorite blogs, Hyperbole and a Half. This girl is so hilarious! I love her writing style and it's the first stuff I've read in a long while where I find myself just laughing until my sides hurt and my family is all like "What are you laughing at?!" The author makes a lot of references to her near crippling ADHD in her posts. Coming from the generation where if it was remotely suggested that because you had a lot of energy or cut up in class, then it was automatically assumed that you had ADHD and you got put on mass doses of Ritalin, I never really stopped to consider ADHD as a legitimate, serious, or debilitating actual condition/medical issue/socially affectation/problem. In my school experience, we all knew at least a dozen kids with ADD or ADHD, and it actually became an offhanded exaggeration. If we became distracted about anything or strayed off a conversation topic onto a tangent, we'd bring ourselves back on track with "Sorry, I'm completely ADD today or something." We didn't intentionally make light of it (at least I know I didn't), we were just so used to it being so common that we were pretty desensitized. (To ANYONE reading this who does suffer from ADD and/or ADHD, I apologize for the past callousness of myself and my peers. Seriously.)

Here is my huge and possibly life altering realization: I absolutely may have moderate to severe adult ADD myself, and never understood, never been diagnosed or treated and never realized it. The more I read about Allie and her perspective of things, her experiences and her detailed descriptions of how her ADHD affects her ability to be a responsible adult, the more I find myself looking less into a computer screen and more into a mirror.
Here are a few of the posts that hit the closest to home for me. Like, VERY close.

While I was laughing uproariously at her posts, little warning bells were going off in my brain. Like "Never mind the fact that you don't have insurance- you should get to a doctor anyway and explore the fact that untreated ADD may be at the root of a ton of your social/responsibility issues!" So I did what any other person with a laptop at midnight does: I GOOGLED IT. I'm sure what I'm going to say next is no surprise:
I found a ton of information about ADD and ADHD, including THIS. I took the little 5 minute PDF questionnaire, answering as honestly as I could and the results freak me out a bit.
What's even more messed up is that I found myself thinking that all of the "yes" answers (the "you may be ADD/ADHD" boxes to the right end of the test) apply to my husband as well!
It's one thing to be coming to grips with the fact that your life up to this point has fallen short of it's intended potential due to the fact that you may ought to have been on some medication but weren't. It's quite another to be bitch-slapped in the face with the realization that your marriage is failing, your kids are increasingly emotionally removed from both of you, and you both have less than no relationship whatsoever with your mother, because you BOTH have been screwed up for a long time. How long? Wow, this sucks. No wonder our lives are so botched up. Holy crap.

We have marriage counseling on Wednesday, Jake and I. I'm going to print some stuff and we are definitely going to have to fit some of this realization into the picture and try to wrap our brains around it. Like most of our counseling sessions, it will likely be painful. And there is a projected probability of 87% that I will cry. Hard. But I still think that the fact that I am getting the help that (I am slowly discovering a bit at a time) I need, is proof positive that I'm on the right track and can at least make a conscious effort to make my life after 30 look less like a ping pong ball in a hurricane than my life before 30.
I want to write more, but it's 4:30 in the morning and the kids will be awake soon and I HAVE to get some sleep. Thanks for reading. See you again soon.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Gratuitous "What I'm Thankful For" Day Before Thanksgiving Post

This post is exactly what the title says it is, but before I launch into it, I would like to clarify the motivation behind it.
What this post is not:
1) A mindless jump on the "All my friends are posting Thanksgiving related stuff" bandwagon.
2) The result of a guilt trip. From anyone. Including my friends who are posting Thanksgiving related stuff.
3) What I have channeled my procrastination into, instead of creating Ebay listings and sewing Christmas gifts like I'm supposed to be doing.
4) A feeble attempt at distracting myself from the box of dark chocolate cordial cherries sitting next to me, all but audibly pleading to be devoured in one go.

No, wait. It probably IS that last one.

Despite all of my protests above, I really DO have so very much to be Thankful (yes, with a capital T. It really is that important.) for. This list is by no means inclusive, exclusive, or even conclusive (unless it brings us all to the conclusion that I absolutely do need to keep going to therapy to control my impulses to write/babble complete nonsense from a random stream of ADD consciousness. Then I can live with it being labeled "conclusive". What was I saying? Oh, yeah...) Enjoy my list of things I am Thankful for!

  • My Savior
  • My Family (Yes, all of them.)
  • My Friends (Yes, all of them, too.)
  • Though it is constantly under fire, my freedom of worship. Some people seem to be unaware that in many countries, having/being caught with a Bible or saying the name Jesus is legally punishable by death. I'm not only allowed to worship God anywhere I want in my town, I pass more than 2 dozen churches on the way to the church of my choice! I challenge other Christians to not take that for granted the next time you are trying to get to your church on time.
  • A nice place to live. Believe me, after losing a home to foreclosure, NOT being homeless is a big deal.
  • Jobs and income to buy food and gasoline. However meager our pay, we have plenty to eat. Plenty of GOOD food to eat, too, not just Ramen noodles and rice and beans. Although there is nothing wrong with those foods either. You know what I meant.
  • My sense of humor. I absolutely DO NOT understand how people with no sense of humor and the ability to laugh things off manage to cope with all of the crap that life often throws at us. I mean it. How do they function at all??! I can at least feel like at the end of a truly awful day that at some point later I'll have an amusing tale about the situation to entertain people with. And some people even get PAID to be funny and tell other people those stories!! (Maybe I should look into that...)
  • A running vehicle. When the Honda died, we had the Villager. When the Villager died, we had (have) the Buick. While I hope and pray that the Buick does not die at least until we can get another car, even if it did, my grandmother would let us borrow her Toyota to run to the store or be taken to work, until we could get something else. I definitely do NOT take for granted having my own transportation!
  • Understanding and patient creditors. I'm not joking. Earlier this year, in our darkest hours and when all seemed lost, there were people we owed who patiently waited and kept in touch with us (without harassing us) until we could finally pay them. When we could and did pay them, they treated us politely and with respect. Our creditors definitely weren't ALL like that. But the ones who were, were absolutely amazing. I don't think that excellent customer service and good treatment will go unrewarded.
  • My computer, Internet access, and Facebook. Ok, that's three things, but they are all related and I am thankful that I am able to stay in touch with all of my friends, no matter how far away they live, or what time it is. I am a very personable person and connecting with people is extremely important to me. Which is why, if you've ever noticed, the quickest way to piss me off is to talk AT me, rather than TO me, or to act as though I don't matter as a person. Rudest. Thing. Ever! Also through the computer, I've been able to sell some of the things I no longer need, or things I have made, and that extra has helped keep us clothed and fed.
  • My sewing machine. Having a tool to create things to wear, sell and use and knowing how to use it is completely awesome!
  • The fact that I'm not yet a divorce statistic.
  • The fact that I (or my children) have not been hospitalized in the last 12 months, for any reason. I do not take this for granted. So many people get seriously injured or ill every day, and I'm thankful that it has not been us.
  • My counselor/therapist. She is worth every penny I pay her, and I would absolutely, 100% without doubt have had a serious mental/emotional breakdown by now and not been able to function had I not had her support and advice. I mean the kind of nervous breakdowns that put people in the hospital (see above) and have their children taken away from them because they are so unstable. Earlier this year I needed professional help, and sought it. I am SO unbelievably thankful for it and the stability/functionality it has encouraged.
  • My level of education, and my desire to never stop learning. I could have been bitter about the rotten deal I got 8 years ago when I wasn't able to finish college and get my bachelor's. But I chose not to be. I am thankful that my education, however far it got before I had to put it on hold, has enabled me to be an asset to my children and my community. I have edited newsletters, checked my children's homework, written letters of encouragement to friends, and earned the respect of many as a direct result of my conscious abilities in spelling, proof reading, grammar, and writing style. I am thankful that I care enough to want the things I present to other people to read, to be correct. I know the difference between (and correct use of) "your" and "you're", and also "their", "there" and "they're". I know how to correctly use a semicolon. I do not use double negatives, even though here in the south it is exceedingly common to do so in one's regular conversation. I can spell baccalaureate correctly the first time, every time. Without using the computer's spell check.
  • The ability to learn from my past mistakes and not repeat them. This applies to so much in my life, but particularly the areas of finances, family and other major life altering decisions.
There is loads more, but I think I'll stop there. At least for now. There are still some 20 hours until we're all sitting down tucking in to all the Thanksgiving Day food, food and more food, so I might write some more later. This has been a hard year, but I am Thankful for everything that I have. Compared to many, I have so much. In case I don't get a chance to write again before tomorrow night, everyone have a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends! Stay well and safe and happy. Thanks for reading.

P.S. I failed at distracting myself from the cordial cherries. But I didn't eat them all in one sitting. There is still one left in the box. ;)

Sad and Unexpected News

At around 5 o'clock yesterday, as I was getting Em and myself ready to go to Grandmother Ray's house (I had a counseling session), I was told by Grandmother that our cousin Amy's husband Lincoln died suddenly in an odd accident. I'm not going to post any details here, but it's still hard to wrap my head around the fact that Lincoln is gone. So sad. Especially right here at the holidays, too. :( I really feel for Meagan, their daughter. She's in college, which is around where I was when my dad died 11 years ago. So I know how it feels. She's in for a rough ride, unfortunately. I wish there was something I could do or say to help, but... I can't.

The funeral will likely be Friday or Saturday, in which case I won't be able to go because of my work schedule. In retail, a) you simply don't call in on Black Friday and say you can't work. It isn't done. And b) if you actually do "a", don't bother coming back to that job. Ever.

We're not particularly close with that family; they all live over in Conyers on the other side of Atlanta, and we only see them once a year at the family Christmas party. But they ARE family, and it is so hard to believe that Lincoln is gone from the rest of our future family Christmas gatherings.

My prayers of love and comfort go out for Amy and Meagan.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Yes, it really has been that long.

I haven't written a blog on this thing for a year and a half! That doesn't seem possible, somehow, and yet, given everything that has happened in my life in 2010, I guess it is.

Oddly, I don't feel like doing a recap. I really don't want to rehash all of the crises that have happened this past year at all. So if you are close to me personally, and know about the crap I've been dealing with, thanks for your love and support. If not, consider yourself lucky not to have to hear all of the crap I've been dealing with, and thanks for your new and untainted love and support! :D

Seriously though, I can't wait for a new year and a (mostly) fresh start. 2011 had darn well better be worth the cost of 2010! I can't handle things to stay the way they have been. Most of my friends wonder regularly whether my sanity levels are staying in a healthy range. If things don't alter from what they have been around here, I can tell you that those levels are going to plummet from "Handles stress with calm, grace and patience" to "bring in the antipsychotic drugs and the coat that makes her hug herself!!!" very, very quickly.

There have been a few good things, don't get me wrong. I love my kids and they are perpetually amazing and wonderful and infuriating in turns, and that is what keeps my life at a normal and socially acceptable pace. My marriage has come to the precipice of ruin more than a few times, but on occasion during counseling sessions (when we're both able to make it), we make each other laugh, so I suppose that counts as a mark in the 'positive' column. We aren't divorced yet, nor are we paying out (more) money (than we make) to attorneys to become divorced. I'm sure that is an indication that the past year wasn't quite as bad as it could have been.

But here lately, I'm not content to simply be happy that things "aren't as bad as they could have been". Of course, I am overjoyed that all of my family is alive and well. No one is ill with a terminal disease. No one has been in the hospital, or severely injured physically in any way. We have jobs, meager paying as they are. Yet there is a certain basic level of living that I would like to have attained at this point in my life and I find myself more than a little pissed off that it hasn't been so.

Some may frown at my seemingly bad attitude and tell me to stop being such a spoiled child. But I believe it is this intolerance for a mediocre and unsuccessful life that spurs us on from despondence to action. Yes, this has been a hard year. But I am a strong woman. I am also smart, competent, witty, attractive and skilled at a number of creative abilities. I will see this year out with a glint of steely resolution in my eye, but I will not allow my hardened resolve to harden my heart. In a few weeks, when the last hours of December tick away, I will bid a hearty farewell to 2010 and tell it not to let the door hit it on the butt on the way out! I will spend more time with the people who make me feel like I am worth more than how clean I keep a house that isn't mine. I will spend more hours with the friends who make me laugh and whom I amuse and make laugh in return. I will see what can be done to repair and rebuild my broken marriage. I will cherish and treasure each moment I can with my babies, because they won't stay babies for long. All in all, I will have a good attitude, and I believe that better things will come.

Perhaps I'll post again soon, or hopefully, more often. Until then, Happy Thanksgiving and enjoy that tryptophan induced nap on Turkey Day!