Finally

I’ve been lazy. Well, lazy with writing and I can tell. Writing helps clear my mind and since I haven’t been faithful with it, I’ve been having vivid dreams. Weird stuff about my dad and tidal waves and talking to dogs who can speak. My kids left today for a mission’s trip and I always worry when they’re going to be traveling. As any mother, I have fleeting thoughts of car accidents or muggings or some other danger that could befall them while they’re away. I won’t dwell on it, but it will make me uneasy for a while. However, I’m always proud of them for going and thankful for their convictions.

While they are gone, I’m moving some of our stuff over to my boyfriend’s house. My house is up for sale, and my realtor thinks that moving items out will help it look bigger. I don’t mind since I’m tired of trying to keep it clean enough to show at a moment’s notice. It’s a pain selling a house while you’re living in it. And we’ve been over at Patrick’s more often than not; we’ve been painting the exterior which has needed a lot of work including replacing broken siding pieces and rotten trim. Nothing lets you know the truth of a person more than working on a time consuming and difficult house project together. So far, so good. We still like each other, which speaks volumes. If you can spend hours cutting (and re-cutting) and painting (and repainting) wood without wanting to kill each other, that’s some lasting love. He has no idea how much I’m grateful for the little things.

And these days I’ve been feeling a lot better. My new doctor did an ultrasound and discovered that my miscarriage wasn’t complete at all–the fetus was still there. So a few weeks ago I had a D&C and began to feel better almost immediately. It took four months to get to that point. I don’t even have words for how disappointed I am in my old doctor who let things drag on without checking anything more than my hormone levels, despite my repeated warning that something did not feel right. But instead of focusing on the lost time, I’m extremely grateful for being back to normal. We’re going to try again and keep our fingers crossed.

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Seriously? Can we just be done now.

The semester is over. Finally. I submitted my research proposal and took my last final exam yesterday. If all grading goes as well as I hope, I should finish this semester with a 4.0 gpa. Yay, me! If not, then, damnit, me. Or, if I were like a lot of the students here, it would be my instructor’s fault, of course. I’d say she just didn’t like me. But I know that’s not the case, so I’ll take whatever grades I get and keep plugging along, especially since my 4 week summer class starts next week. The instructor sent us the 48 page syllabus ahead of time…Gosh, I’m excited about that class. Gulp.

I like putting a period at the end of things. That means I can take a step and move on. I’m wishing that were the case with more than the semester. I found out that the miscarriage is still lingering. I’ve spent the last several weeks having my hormone levels checked with a blood test. Apparently, when a woman gets pregnant, her body starts producing a special hormone (hcg) that increases twofold every 2 to 3 days or so until the later months of pregnancy when it levels off. Blood tests measure it in number, and any number above a 5 is considered pregnant, although ideally the number should be zero in normal, non-pregnant conditions. My number this week registered at 117. I could go into a diatribe about my disappointment with my doctor at the moment and how things have been handled (or mishandled). Let me just say that his response was that something could still be left behind, but he’d like me to wait another couple of weeks to check my hormone levels again. Instead I made an appointment with a new doctor for next week.

In the meantime, my body hates me. I can feel it. I can feel that something is wrong. My regular female hormones are trying to take over in a raging battle that’s making me wish I were a dude. Yesterday was a particularly bad day. I felt on the verge of tears all day and had to avoid any cute baby animal-related videos on Facebook in case someone walked into my office at the wrong moment. Yet at the same time, I wanted to kick something. Hard. I secretly wished one of the posturing geese we have on campus would finally pick a fight. I would have won and it would have been epic. It’s a horrible feeling when you know you’re an emotional mess but you’re incapable of stopping it. You just have to hold on and try to avoid saying or doing anything that causes lasting damage. At one point in the day, my daughter texted asking for a favor. This was after finding out that I needed to stay an extra hour longer at work. And I was nice in my reply,  I really was. I even ended my message with a warning that I was not having a good day and she thanked me for the heads up. By 5 pm, just as I was heading to a new student orientation where I had to be available to answer questions of parents and their kids, I got a migraine aura. For those of you who’ve never experienced this, it’s like when you look into the flash of a camera and the ring of light stays behind in your eyes. I had those flashing, zigzagging lines in peripheral of my right eye which meant that I couldn’t see anyone coming at me from that side. I’m sure I looked like a weirdo constantly looking back and forth just so I could get a complete view of my surroundings. It lasted for almost an hour and  I braced myself for the migraine to follow. But it didn’t. Instead, all my hormone-filling angst of the day disappeared and I felt somewhat normal again. Damn, cruel body. I just saw the new Avengers movie and I realized that I can relate to the Hulk. At any moment, he turns into a wild beast and once he’s back to normal, he feels guilty and slinks away. I’m just hoping that I don’t also turn green.

I’m counting the minutes until I can meet my new doctor. I hope she takes one look at me and feels sympathy. I need to have this ordeal over. I tried to explain to my boyfriend last night how I’ve been feeling. I have to give him kudos for trying to understand, but I know I sound like a lunatic. Everything is horrible! Things aren’t working out. Maybe this is just a sign that we aren’t supposed to have a baby. When I get emotional like that, I miss having my family around. I need to feel connected to someone whom I know knows me. The people who can just laugh at me or slap me (not literally) and make me feel grounded again because I know they get it. I’m not crazy. But I now think Patrick gets it too. He did what I needed. Rationalized things for me. Teased me for being a mess. But also hugged me for a bit and told me things would be ok. Once again, I’m grateful for him. And for my kids, who also hugged me when I got home because I had given the heads up on my bad day. No questions asked first. Have I mentioned lately that I have great kids? So…I know I’ll get through things, like I usually do. It’s been a long time, but hopefully, I’ll have better answers next week. And I’ll try not to take anyone out in the meantime.

December 31: New Year’s Eve

This time a year ago I started this blog about the things I was grateful for. It started as a way to look at the positives in my life, instead of the negatives, which are so much easier to let become the focus. I made a commitment to write daily for a year. It wasn’t always easy and a few days I was late getting my post in, but I’m proud of myself for doing it. Every. Single. Day. I plan to keep the blog a little longer but will write less frequently. It’s been a good exercise. A friend asked me recently if it’s made me happier–all this focus on gratitude. My honest answer? Not really. At least I don’t think so. For me, happiness is something that comes and goes. What it has done is made me more conscious of my life. There’s something about purposely reflecting on the positive things at the end of the day that’s been good for me. I dare you to try it. Maybe not in blog form, but buy a journal and write stuff down. Make a Sunday list of the things that stand out to you at the end of the day. Maybe you’ll find, like I did, that it’s the small things that stand out. The big moments in our lives seem to change our trajectory, but it’s the little things that keep us moving. For me, it was stuff like laughing with my kids, dinner with friends, hugs, cat snuggles and good puppy behavior, crossing items off my to-do list, and just hanging out with my boyfriend. Find what makes your life full.

Of course, there have been some pretty big moments in my past year as well. Things I didn’t expect. Times that were really hard. Times that were really good. I started out last year in what seemed like a new chapter of my life. Just me and my cat and my two kids in a new house that still needed some work. I spent last New Year’s Eve alone, watching tv, singing karaoke in the dark, heading to bed just about midnight. I wouldn’t have imagined then that this New Year’s I’d be in Texas, spending the evening with my boyfriend, a guy who’s been an unexpected blessing. I didn’t know I’d lose my dad this year; it’s still a bit unbelievable. A year ago I hadn’t planned on getting a puppy or to be 6 credits into a graduate program with a 4.0 GPA (did I mention that? Yay me!). But here I am, 365 days later in the same, more-updated house with my still awesome kids in what seems like a different life. However, isn’t that the way things work? We may think we know what our life is about and think that we have things under control, but we don’t know. That’s why we can’t give up and we can’t take things for granted. Each day is it. Each day is all we can worry about. So each day we should look for the good stuff. I’m glad I decided to write about the positives every day for the last year, and I’m grateful you took the journey with me. I hope I somehow inspired you to look for your own simple moments. I won’t be blogging every day, but I’ll continue to look daily and I’ll write occasionally. Stay tuned in. I hope you have a fantastic New Year’s Eve and a coming year filled with much to be thankful for…

November 27

My boyfriend’s sister is getting married tomorrow, so tonight was the rehearsal and dinner. Instead of a traditional Thanksgiving feast, we had a Mexican buffet. She got some teasing over her food choice, but it was actually very good. They know how to do tacos around here. I’m thankful today to be here, to have met by boyfriend’s sisters and other people from his hometown, and to see where he grew up. I’m also thankful for the warm weather (it snowed back home) and for the fun we are having. Of course, on a grander Thanksgiving scale, I’m grateful for a lot more (like my kids and family and friends and puppies and fat cat). I have a lot of things to be thankful for today. I hope you all feel the same.

October 27

My boyfriend teased me today about having no gratitude for him making me breakfast AND dinner yesterday. I teased him back that his breakfast made us sick so it was hard to mention. (It didn’t really; I think it was coincidence.) At any rate, I promised him that the next post was going to be his. I don’t think he took me seriously. After all, we are both more than a bit sarcastic. But I thought about it afterwards and decided that I should write about him. Sometimes it’s easiest to take the people closest to us for granted, assuming they should know how we feel. Even forgetting the niceties we reserve for strangers, like thank you and please and excuse me. I try to remember to be respectful that way, but I still find it difficult sometimes to be verbal with compliments. I often think them, but I’m reticent with sharing. Maybe it stems from my fear of sounding disingenuine. I’m sure growing up in a family of seven sarcastic people didn’t help. Or maybe it’s because getting complimented often makes me feel awkward. Whatever the reason, I really should get better at it.

So what about my guy? For starters, he’s helped redefine my expectations for relationships. In that, I’m learning to let go of how I think things should be and am much more willing to let things evolve as they will. Not a lot about us makes us an obvious match. He’s math; I’m English. He prefers to be alone; I bug him when my house is empty. He’s ok with no plan; I need to know what’s happening next. He’s never been married; I’ve been divorced. Heck, he’s even a foot taller than I am. And a lot younger. And for the longest time, I thought those differences would matter more than they do. But every time I worry, he makes me feel calmer and I think it’s because for the first time in my relationship history, I actually trust him. He doesn’t run off of ulterior motives or competition or whatever is going to make him look best. He says what he means, and I really appreciate that. Maybe not always in the moment, but I love knowing that I can take what he tells me at face value. For me, that’s a biggie. I also appreciate that he’s respectful to me; he asks my opinion, he apologizes if he needs to, he invites me to join him on things. I don’t feel taken for granted. I’m thankful for some little things too: how he kisses the top of my head, pays for dinner, rests his hand on my knee when he drives, teases me relentlessly, cooks for me, tries to scare me during tv time, and has helped me appreciate craft beer and Howard Stern. Obviously, I could add stuff, but he’s probably already mad that I’ve said this much.

As with everyone, my guy isn’t perfect. I do get annoyed sometimes. (And yet he doesn’t with me…go figure.) But I am honestly thankful for having him in my life. We broke up for a short period and I realized then that no matter how I tried to move on, I couldn’t. He’s gotten under my skin. I told him once that I’d take whatever time I had with him, long or short, because I knew it would be worth it. Of course, I hope now it will be a long time.

March 14

Today my heart was broken. Literally. While cleaning my office at work, I knocked over the red heart piggy bank that my boyfriend gave me for Valentine’s Day. I nearly cried. I’m a sucker for sweet gestures, so I really liked that bank. It was an unexpected gift, especially since we had just started dating and he’s not an overly expressive or publicly affectionate person. I was touched that he had filled it with my favorite candy and delivered it to my office. Never mind that the candy somehow melted inside; it was the thought that counted. So seeing it in pieces on my floor today was an extreme disappointment. I’m sure it won’t be replaced, and it was beyond repair. When I told a couple of girlfriends what I had done, their first instinct was to tell me they hoped it wasn’t a bad sign. As I vacuumed up the smaller shards, I secretly hoped it wasn’t either. Of course, I guess if accidently breaking a heart-shaped gift is a marker for the end of a relationship, then pretty much anything can be. And I don’t want to start down that slippery slope. Even though I’m not usually affected by superstitions, I do tend to worry. And I really like him; we’ve been friends for a long time and I want our relationship to continue. Thankfully, there was one large piece of the heart that remained intact. The one section that had another, smaller heart drawn on it. So I kept that piece and put it on my file cabinet. You know, just in case.