Category Archives: Freak Out Mode

Reality, she encroaches


Second official field school purchase. (First was a jacket-in-a-pouch.)



I Left My Intestinal Fortitude in San Francisco


Guys. I totally wussed out.

I went into SF today to check into my hotel on Haight Street. Now, I have been up here enough in the past 3 years, I don’t know what I was thinking in trying to go into SF on a Saturday. Honestly, you’d think I’d never been here before. Anyway, I got to the Haight and it was just crawling with people and cars. Y’all, I drove around for almost an HOUR trying to find somewhere to park. ALLLL the street spaces were full (and, even if I’d found one, they are metered, which means I’d have had to go feed said meter every few hours – not so handy when I was planning to park my car and leave it for the night). There was no space in front of the hotel to pull up and at least unload my eight-hundred-pound suitcase. I also never did find the parking garage I was told was several blocks away. And the thing is, there wasn’t even anywhere to pull over and consult my phone, or ask for directions. There are no parking lots in that area, it’s buildings, sidewalks, and street parking. That’s it.

After close to an hour I was running low on patience, not to mention the will to live. I was tired of being honked at and stared at, balefully, by groups of people as they sauntered in front of my car at intersections.  I was worn out, hungry, and I’d had to pee since I left the East Bay. At that point I really didn’t even feel like being in SF anymore. I wanted a nice, quiet, easily accessible room where I could spend the rest of the evening chilling and getting ready to head home (pretty early) tomorrow. So I fled the city. I headed south until I got to some suburbs (parking lots! public toilets!) and then I got on my phone and booked myself a room in Hayward. It’s a little further away from the airport than I’d wanted, but it cost half as much as any of the rooms I found on the other side of the Bay. I’ll just have to leave here around 7am to make it to the airport on time. Considering my inability to sleep in on this trip, that shouldn’t be a huge deal.

So my trip to the Bay Area ends a little unpropitiously. However, as I pointed out to myself earlier in an attempt to stave off the guilt of chickening out on my day in the city: I accomplished everything I specifically came here to do. I saw the two concerts, and I got tattooed. Anything else after that was just whipped cream on top. And, really, who needs the extra calories, anyway?

Folie Circulaire


I really, really wish I could be normal.

“What IS normal?” the Internet is wont to philosophize. “Who decides what’s normal? Plus, being different is great! If we were all the same, it would be boring!”

I agree with this in a very generalized context. In the area of personal preferences, likes, dislikes, etc. – I’m all for diversity. I like what I like and I don’t really concern myself with whether anyone thinks it’s “normal” or not. But that’s not what I’m talking about when I make a statement such as the above. There is such a thing as abnormal, mental-health wise. It’s not endearing, it’s not necessary to a diverse society, and it most certainly is not fun.

To expand on my original statement, what I would like is to be able to behave as a normal, or, let’s say, typical person in social situations. Just to be clear, because this always comes up with well-meaning people trying to empathize with me on this subject — I’m not talking about simple shyness or run-of-the-mill introversion. I’m talking about difficulty processing stimuli and interacting with people in a relatively normal manner, when simply trying to do so triggers other issues. To put it into super-simplified terms, I would like to be able to have a weekend at an event of some type, where I do activities and talk to people, and not wig out.

I am sitting here in my hotel room on this, my last night in Louisville, and I’m assessing the weekend. I am not sure I would call it an overall success. There were fun bits, sure, though it’s worth pointing out that the really enjoyable parts involved people I already knew and am comfortable with, and non-stimulating activities (basically, sitting around, talking). Even so, the effort of being cheerful and upbeat and making conversation for four days has started to wear on me. Add to that the overload of sensory input and it’s all just a little too much. Yesterday my tic really kicked off and it was hard to hide it and I’ve also been really twitchy when in the group situations — bouncing my knees, wiggling my toes really fast, etc. I’m exhausted and stressed by being around people and all the loud noise, and I hate it. Why can’t I just go to a music festival and chitchat with people and not need to go hide out in my room with earplugs in to recover? I’m not talking about wishing I could be a social butterfly. I don’t mind being “the quiet one” and having quality of friends over quantity. What I don’t want is for mere social interaction to cause psychological and physiological upheaval. I don’t think that’s too much to ask. Because it’s not just the ticking and the exhaustion, my thought processes are not right, either. I have been bordering on the breakdown of rationality since Friday. In fact, Friday night I was on the phone to Robert telling him I was going to change my flight and come home the next morning. I won’t even get into what set that off, because it’s not important. The point is, I’m on the verge of having a meltdown and sliding completely into irrational thinking and it’s being triggered by things that shouldn’t even be an issue. Some of that is due to my regular, everyday problems that I have even when I’m home and in my safe space, but some of it is due to my environment here in Louisville and my inability to process it all. I hate that. Why can’t I have a conversation with people without either a) ticking, twitching, etc. because of my discomfort and anxiety at having to socialize or b) needing to come back to my room and “rest” afterward? I’m just so tired of it.

One of the things that bothers me the most is I feel like I’m just being a wimp…like I’m copping out; being a baby. I mean, how ridiculously first-world-problem does that sound? “Oh, poor me, I just can’t deal with the stress of interacting with people because I’m such a delicate little flower. I must go lie down. By the way, is there a pea under these ten mattresses?” It’s hard for me to accept that this is a real problem/issue/characteristic and not just me being lazy or anti-social and looking for an excuse to be a hermit and not try. After all, there were times throughout the weekend when I probably pulled off “normal” pretty well, and people who saw me during those times would likely think I am exaggerating how it makes me feel. They might feel like if I can act that way part of the time, I could do it all the time if I tried hard enough. That’s not the case, though. The effort is exhausting and, if it goes on long enough, I just start to shut down in self-preservation. I’m not electing to do this. If I could change, I really would. And maybe I could, but I don’t think it’s something I could effect on my own. I think it would involve professional help, truly.

If anyone should want to know more about people like myself, just Google “highly sensitive person.” You’ll find a plethora of information and descriptions about people who experience the same things that I do. I think I have HSP tendencies (always have) that are now being exacerbated by my other issues. I would be a HSP under any circumstances but the behaviors and reactions are compounded and magnified by my still-not-entirely-controlled bipolar.

I know this entry is sort of all over the map and not very cohesive. I’m not writing for any prizes on this one…just getting down some of the things in my head to help me make sense of them.


Who do I think I am, Indiana Jones?


Just a brief thought from the Department of Doubting Oneself:

WHAT ON EARTH MAKES ME THINK THAT I CAN GET A Ph.D IN ANYTHING? Am I on drugs? Do you know how long that will take, and how much work it is? Not to mention that they don’t just hand out Ph.Ds willy nilly, like candy. They are for smart people; not people who occasionally still listen to hair metal and have an abiding appreciation for reality television. There’s a difference between authentically being smart and simply having a head full of useless facts. That can only take one so far. The final round of Jeopardy, maybe. The halls of academia? Archaeological dig sites? Doubtful. The idea that I could ever become an expert on anything (except, maybe, The Beatles) is ludicrous. I, advising people what to make of ancient artifacts? It’s a laugh. That’s the sort of job for a grownup; someone who actually knows what s/he is talking about. I can’t even remember to put the trash out at the curb half the time. How am I going to cram all those facts into my head AND get them to stick AND figure out how to apply them to actual situations?

Besides all this there is then the question of whether all this education will actually be used for something. Really, is some university going to offer a position to a by-then-40-something greenhorn? If one does it is going to require a move, possibly one of a considerable distance. There is certainly no use for an archaeologist in Dinkytown, Oklahoma. Do I really want to uproot the family? Will the family even agree to be uprooted? I told R. that I’d be open to moving for a job if I really ever do graduate but I am not sure he took me seriously. Do I really want to embark on a career path that may turn out to be utterly useless? I know that education is good for you whether or not you actually use it in terms of career, but couldn’t the argument also be made that it’s selfish of me to take 8(?) years’ worth of time away from my family and incur quite a lot of expense just for a lark? I could stay home and read my Archaeology magazine subscription if all I’m looking to do is entertain myself.

So. Anyone who thinks that this freak-out has been brought to you courtesy of the fact that I now have a date set to take the ACT test, raise your hand.

Edited to add: For those who aren’t clear on the situation, I am starting from square one with this whole education thing. I have not been to college a day in my life. I think if I’d at least started and had a couple years under my belt it wouldn’t seem so daunting but I am looking at going from being a high school graduate who never even took an admission test to becoming a PhD. Starting at age 36. It is looking like a LONG haul from where I’m standing.

Coldhearted Snake


I’m a reasonable person. I like animals. I like nature. I like both best when they remember their place; their place being, namely, not inside my house. It has become apparent that not only are my wishes not being considered, they are being flagrantly flouted and thrown back in my face.

Now, I know snakes serve a purpose in the environment, and I respect that. I adopt a “live and let live” approach to snakes. I have no desire to seek them out and harm them; nor do I believe in hurting them simply because they had the bad luck to wander across my path. However, I’m a bit irritated about the entire encounter. There was really, truly no need for homeboy to roll up on us like that. We have nothing in the house for him to eat. His fortunes are much more promising in the great outdoors. And yet, there he was, in defiance of nature and everything I have ever hoped or desired for my place of residence.

Also, the dude was a bit of an ingrate. We saved him from Grace, who apparently thought he was some hep new cat toy (Super-Squirmy Scaly String™). Despite this olive branch he still had the nerve to go all bad-ass and draw back like he was going to strike me when I got too close. I was like, “Ooooh, I’m so scared. What are you going to do, flick me to death with your microscopic tongue? Dial it down a notch, chief.”

Anyway, one broom and one dustpan later and Mr. Hissy has moved on. But I honestly don’t know if I can adequately express how disturbing I find this. You see, this isn’t the first snake we’ve found in our house. It’s not even the first snake we’ve found in our house this spring. This guy was #2. The first one had the decency to be deceased when we found it (probably thanks to one of the Mighty Feline Hunters, or possibly it took one look at our garbage dump of a house and killed itself in despair). I’m really worried that this is going to become some kind of pattern. Maybe they’ll start coming up out of the plumbing next. Wouldn’t that be charming?

My other theory is that tonight’s snake was a relative of snake #1, come to avenge his death. In which case I guess we can count on seeing him again someday. It’s a shame I don’t speak Parseltongue; perhaps I could’ve discerned a faint Schwarzenegger-esque hiss of “I’ll be back!” as I flung the contents of the dustpan into the stratosphere.

Oh, and this minor detail….


Now, will someone please tell me how I managed to miss making mention of this? The plane tickets were booked two weeks ago.
Not only are we heading to the land of sunshine, beaches and the Governator (who, in an effort to salvage the budget, is proposing to shut down this blog), we are practically moving in, people. We arrive on June 19th not to depart again until July 28th. (Me: “Yay!” My dad: “I think I’m having a stroke….”)
Seems like a long visit, indeed. But when one takes into account how much we intend to do while there, 5.5 weeks really isn’t all that much time. We have several overnight trips planned plus all our usual activities, not to mention the people who keep popping up, wanting to get together (thank you, Facebook!) So, while I’m sure we will have some down time where we can just hang around at my parents’ house and take up space, I think we will be out of the house quite a lot and the time is going to go by quickly.
The actual travel part has worked out pretty well. True, we do depart from and arrive in two of my less-favorite (read: furthest away) cities. However, I can deal with that if the times are palatable and the travel in between the cities is fairly stress-free. This trip falls into those categories. We depart from Dallas at 12:20, which means we have to get up earlyish but not torturously early. We do make a stop in Phoenix; however, we don’t change planes. This means no stress on the first leg about us getting there in time to make our connection and no possibility of sprinting through the airport dragging three kids plus luggage to try to make the next flight. Conversely, it also means no sitting in Phoenix airport for two or three hours trying to entertain the two-year-old because the only other option for the second leg gave us 35 minutes’ connection time and we were afraid to book it. It will be so nice to get on the plane and be able to remain cool as a cucumber, even if they are late leaving.
After all of that we arrive in San Jose at 3:24. It’s a three-hour drive to my parents’ house but, being that we’re getting there that early, we should be able to get our luggage, our car, stop at Fresh Choice for dinner and still arrive before it gets dark. It’s really the sweet spot, for me and my preferences, anyway. I don’t have to get up at 4 a.m. but we get in early enough that we should be in before the kids’ bedtimes. (Coming back, incidentally, the flight is nearly identical except that a little more time on the ground in Phoenix plus the two hours we gain means we won’t be into Dallas until almost 7:30. Fortunately the kids travel well by car so driving back late won’t be an issue.)
The first major event after our arrival will be JZ’s birthday on the 23rd. We are throwing him a party at the zoo either on his actual birthday or the following day (still waiting to hear from the zoo coordinator as to which day is available). I’m excited to give JZ one of his gifts because it’s something he’s been asking for since last year and thinks he’s not going to get! (More on that later.)
However, I am getting ahead of myself. Before all this can happen I have a couple boxes of clothes to pack and ship, today, preferably, and unfortunately half the stuff I want to pack is unfolded and buried in an enormous pile of (clean) laundry on a chair. I guess I should get moving on that. Stay tuned for much blogging from California.

Hello, old friend


When Robert left this evening to go back to work I had a brief moment of, “I can’t do this by myself!” I haven’t had that feeling since Eliza was very small and not sleeping. No, she hasn’t regressed; she’s not gone back to sleeping poorly. In fact, we are screaming up on the one-year anniversary of her beginning to sleep through the night.
I think the problem was more an accumulation than any one thing. When Robert walked out the door (to be gone an extra day this week) I was suddenly steamrolled by all the upcoming events and chores and things that I need to get done, which all crowded into my brain at the same time, clamoring for attention. You’d be surprised how often this happens to me, actually.
Any road, the ball has now begun rolling toward our busy, busy summer. Last week was lovely and quiet – the calm before the storm. This week things pick up and it only gets busier from here on out. There are trips to be planned for, the soccer season that just won’t die (I thought their last game was yesterday, only to be informed there’s tournament play all this week and next weekend), another ten days of morning and nightly school routines to get through (the school system seems to have specifically selected this month’s menu based on things my children will not eat, so lots of lunches still to be packed on top of the normal tasks) and Madalyn and I leave for Louisville in a week-and-a-half. Another key factor in my brief panic is that my house is an unholy pigsty. I have, no exaggeration, a minimum of fifteen loads of clean laundry waiting to be folded and probably another seven or eight loads to wash. The rest of the place is a wreck, too. Oh, and don’t forget that we are probably moving sometime this summer so the entire house will need to be packed up again. And yet I can’t seem to get motivated to actually do anything. I have my theories about that but, right now, theories won’t fold my clothes.
As you may guess, the sudden realization of everything I have to do (or feel I should be doing) is a bit overwhelming. Also figuring into the equation is that the way I get through Robert being gone so much is by having a “one day at a time” mentality. I wake up in the mornings and I deal with only what needs to be dealt with that day. If I look too far ahead at all the things coming up in the near future I start to lose my already-tenuous grip on having it together. The problem at this point is that a lot of our summer busyness has to be planned for in advance, which means I’m feeling like I should be working on, say, packing for Louisville right now AND cleaning the house in advance of our California trip AND planning all our outfits for the week of VBS AND keeping the house clean once I’ve gotten it tidied up.
A lot of the agony is self-inflicted. Take packing for the trip, for example. It doesn’t need to be as complicated as I make it. But, no, here I am with a slip of paper listing all Madalyn’s new shirts and bottoms and all my new/presentable clothing, and I’m going to sit at my computer and type up a list detailing which shirts will be worn with which shorts so there will be no confusion during packing (or dressing, on the trip). I probably really don’t need to have the house spic-and-span for when we are gone to California – but I feel like it should be, so even if I don’t get around to doing it I will still stress about it right up until the day we walk out the door, whenever that glorious day may be. The laundry – well, there’s no getting around that one. That does need to be folded. But there’s the whole motivation issue again. I have the best of intentions but somehow I simply can’t make myself do it. Then I feel guilty, which gets me down, which, in turn, probably makes me less likely to find the get-up-and-go to get it done.
Bottom line, I guess, is that I’m taking too wide a view of things this evening and allowing all the upcoming activity to crowd in on me. I need to take myself in hand and narrow my focus on today and, if needed, tomorrow. The brief feeling of panic disappeared quickly but I am still feeling a bit uneasy about it all, which I think would end up being counterproductive if I gave myself over to it entirely. Okay….bucking up, squaring shoulders, finding resolve, shaking off the Crazy…..