Monday, May 30, 2011

Where I've been

I didn't think I'd disappear from blogging for over a week. I was making such good progress at keeping this up to date.

Here's what's been going on in our house for the past few weeks and what's been keeping me from blogging.

1) Turtle got laid off. At first, it was just a threat of a possible layoff. Then it was definitely coming, just didn't know when. Then, it happened. It'll be 2 weeks this Thursday since his last day. I'll be writing more about this over the next few days since I am now an expert at being the wife of a laid off individual. (Yes, this is not the first time he's been laid off.)

2) I went to New York on business. Given that you all know that I work in publishing, it's really no big secret as to why. BookExpo America was last week, which is the biggest trade show for the publishing industry.

3) I won an iPad while I was in NYC--it was a giveaway at one of the events I attended. No, I am not typing this entry from there. I wish! It's arriving in a few weeks, since it was ordered following the giveaway. I didn't get any other free stuff that one might get at a trade show. Besides booze and food, I mean. :-)

4) Our gardens are coming along amazingly. Pictures to come! Our main vegetable garden is doing great, our vegetable garden behind our garage (just beans & peas) are sprouting already, the perennials we planted around the house have transplanted well. I even got Turtle to dig out the area around our mailbox and planted perennials there as well.

5) I've been casually searching for a new job for the past few months, even with DH's job situation on the fence. Oddly enough, while in NYC, no sooner than a half hour before I won the iPad, I got a call from another local publisher about an interview, which I scheduled for this week. I will not be jumping ship from my current job unless the offer is wonderfully awesome, because of DH's unemployment. We'll see how this goes.

6) Our firewood pile fell over. The pile made it through the feet of snow we received over the winter, a blizzard with 60+ MPH winds, heavy spring rains...and what happens? After planting Friday night, DH sits in a lawn chair, maybe 50 ft from it, and looks at it. Five seconds later, it came crashing to the ground. Good times. We rebuilt our racks, re-stacked the wood, and it should be good to go. But who likes re-work?!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

I'm OK

And I'll be back soon. Lots of things going on and not much time to blog about them.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Comparing--there's often more than meets the eye

(Warning: this is super long and a wee bit graphic, medically-speaking.)

In the Sunday edition of our local paper, there was a story about a young man who was finally graduating college two years after a horrible accident. He was a senior when he was hit by a car as a pedestrian. That's the same thing that happened to my husband (minus the senior in college part, he was 27).

The article listed his physical injuries in minimal detail--two punctured lungs, a punctured bladder, a ruptured spleen, broken bones, etc. The writer chose to focus more on the fact that the young man suffered a traumatic brain injury, which made it that much harder to pass the few courses he had left in order to graduate, rather than the other physical damage that he suffered or how it was treated. He was completing his studies online, from home, as his hometown was a few hours away from the college, which made it even that much more difficult. (Note: I'm not downplaying the fact that the writer didn't get into the gory details, you'll see where I'm going in a second.)

As I read the article, of course, my mind flew back to 2004, when my not-then husband was in a similar situation as this young man. They were both sedated into comas, they both had parts of them that needed to be constantly reopened and washed out. The young man in the story had such horrible issues with his lungs, the doctors used Velcro to hold him together, but be able to open him up when the organs needed cleaning. Guess who else had Velcro, but much later? And he was conscious during that experience. It's not pleasant when a fabric notion is holding your body together, by the way. Guess how they attach it to you? With the glue of 1,000 BandAids. God help you when it's time to change the dressing. Especially if you have any body hair in that area.

Back to the story. There were pictures to accompany it, naturally. There you see a 24 year old young man, in what looks like prime physical condition. Six pack abs that The Situation would be proud of. Sure, the scars are visible, but there is no mention as to what this guy needed done. Did he have an ostomy for that bladder puncture? Does he have weakened chest muscles from the open cavity? How are those broken bones? There's mention of how he studies martial arts to help him with his balance and coordination. One might be quick to say "Whoa, this guy had all of that happen to him???? Look at him! He looks great!!!"

But we're not his parents, we're not his girlfriend (who stuck by his side during all of this; I would love to talk with her), we're not his friends. We're not him either. Remember, when you have a traumatic brain injury, sometimes you're not the same person you were before the accident. Sometimes your emotions have changed, the little things bother you more than they ever did. Often times, what you used to know or do isn't there anymore. People go from amazing doctors to being the patients. From being an award-winning teacher to learning to have to do every life skill over again.

This young man had to go to intensive rehab after he was medically stable. Walking, talking, etc. had to be learned all over again. He still doesn't drive.

I finished the article with mixed thoughts. My first thought was that he was indeed so lucky to be alive and as well as he appears to be. Then I thought, what was that article NOT saying? What are his real hurdles? What can't he do now, what will he never be able to do again? All of my thoughts came from someone who was as close to a similar situation as one can be without being the sick and injured one. Because I know that someone can be "all better" and not be all better.

And then I thought something else. I was going to save the article to show my husband for when he got down about his body, his pain, his life that has changed now that he was hit by a car as a pedestrian. In a "hey, look at this guy!" kind of way. To make him look at worse situations out there, because THANK GOD, his brain was not harmed at all in his accident (mental anguish aside, that is). He does get down about things a lot; his entire life changed after the accident, right down to the clothes he wears, the exercise he can do, and the jobs that he can work at in the future, especially after one long-term layoff and another layoff looming. It changed the dynamic of our little family unit.

Then I thought better. How can I diminish the pain and the suffering (oh, how cliche) that he went through? I can't. I will neverbe able to. Even though I was right there by his side, coming to the ICU daily for three weeks straight, I will never fully understand what goes on in his mind. Showing him someone who, objectively speaking, probably did have it worse won't help him with what he went through. What each of us experience is subjective. It's our story, belonging to no one else. As I've just pointed out, even two people who went through the same thing still have their own feelings and thoughts. If I showed my husband the newspaper story, it wouldn't erase the past 7 years. It wouldn't take away the comments from ignorant people who 1) either don't know him at all [yes, total stranger have made lovely jabs at him] or 2) don't know the situation fully, and it's really none of their business. It wouldn't change how he was treated when he went back to work, practically demoted, then laid off when it seemed "convenient." (He was hurt on the job) It wouldn't erase the truth of what he faces every day--and it's not just the scar that divides his abdomen or the scar tissue that has distorted his belly.

Even though they look completely different with their shirts off, both my husband and this young man have scars that no one will ever see, and thoughts that no one will possibly ever be able to fully understand. Sure, I (and the girlfriend) can empathize, can be supportive, can be as loving as possible, and we'll never be at the same place as these men. And this is why it is dangerous to compare. Or to use someone's story as a benchmark for your reactions to your story.

Our stories are what make up our lives. The way we react to life events is appropriate, because it is ours. If we cannot control what happens in our lives, the most we can hope for is the ability to react in the way we want. If people try to get you to think differently, or to look at another person's situation, does it really help? Maybe for a short time, but not indefinitely.

I'm a little embarrassed that I was going to show that to my husband. The intent was good, but I do need to remember that I have no idea about what it is like to be him, and I shouldn't press things upon him. The same goes for everyone else, from family to friends to coworkers to strangers. I have no idea what their lives are truly like, and vice versa.

What can we do? Listen. Offer support. Don't push for details. Don't rush to solve the problem (or attempt to). I have to remember these things too--I am far from perfect. Hopefully no one reading this will ever be in similar situations as Turtle & I were, or this young man and his family were, but maybe my story can help during smaller, less severe crises.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Half bath pictures and updates

Finally, pictures and details of the updated half bath! Sans new mirror though. That, hopefully, is going to be found one of these days. You might want to take a look at the before pics, here and here.

Here's the room when you walk in.

When the door is shut, from the inside. It used to be PINK. Ahh, back to white.

A gratuitous mirror picture. I really don't like it, can't you tell? I do like the dried hydrangeas that I rescued from my mom's plants. Mine aren't old enough to have dried heads yet. And the vase was my grandmother's or my aunt's. I don't know. It's a hand-me-down, aka free :)

A picture/map of Kauai from our honeymoon, and a basket with some extra towels. I think this basket was given to me.

Under the glass shelf, but above the faucet, is this little sign given to me by a friend, years ago. "Life is uncertain---eat dessert first."

Crisp white trim, and a new curtain. Those are seashells. It's hard to take a picture of the pattern, since close-ups lead to problems with the pattern fading.

This might be my favorite part of the room. The heat register was painted grey, but rusting. I found a can of almond spray paint in a clearance bin at a paint store and figured why not? SO. MUCH. BETTER.

I love the room. I don't know if it's easy to tell what the exact color of the paint is, but I'm really pleased with how it looks in here. It brings out the pattern of the tile and it brightens up the room. It's great!

Cost of the "makeover":
  • paint & supplies = $50 (For the wall paint, the spray paint, and a roller. Everything else I had leftover from painting another room.)
  • curtain = $6 on clearance!
  • towels = $10 for 4, purchased on sale & on clearance
  • decorations = free (already had everything on hand)
Total = $66

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

A spot of good news

My half bath is this close to being finished.

What's left? Well, someone needs to remember not to wear sunscreen when she's on her hands and knees washing the floor. Yup, there are two Rabbit arm-sized stains on either side of the toilet. Good job. So I need to paint over those. Although my mother swears you can't see them, I know they are there... (It's all in the lighting! She came over towards dusk!)

I would like to get a new mirror. Yes, the one that's up there is working just fine. doesn't really go with the room now. It's more Previous Owners than Rabbit & Turtle. All I want is a mirror with a white frame, that is rectangle in shape. Not this oval, frosted with flowers, belongs in a Disney Princess Castle thing. Do you know how hard that is to find? That's not $50, I mean. Time to check out Goodwill and tag sales, me thinks...

Now if I could train the cats to use the toilet instead of the litter box so I could throw it out, the room would be complete!

Monday, May 9, 2011

A Day in the Life of a Working Rabbit

About a month ago, I wrote a post about what I did when I stayed home one day, taking care of Turtle, following his wisdom teeth surgery. You can read about that here.

Tonight, while waiting for the husband to get home from work, I thought I'd write about what my day was like today. So yeah, two posts in one day. Bonus!

6:15 to 7:10--Alarm goes off, roll out of bed and into the shower. Check weather, pick out clothes, pet/play with the cats. Iron said clothes, get dressed. Throw on mascara, foundation, concealer since yes, at 31, I still break out. Put gel in hair. Head downstairs.

7:10 to 7:30--Put on electric kettle, pull out things for lunch. Go down to cellar, grab can of soup for today's lunch, pull chicken out of freezer for tomorrow's dinner. Also grab English muffins. Debate about having one for breakfast. Decide to keep it light--banana and a cereal bar in the car. Throw chicken in the fridge, make coffee, get stuff together, take out small bag of trash, leave.

7:30 to 8--Drive to work, while drinking coffee and eating said banana and cereal bar.

8 to 10:30--Get to work, check email, update an RSVP list for a party my company is throwing in two weeks, start working on collecting book reviews about our titles (I do this weekly, and I'm a week behind, sigh), IM with coworkers, update a spreadsheet with my work for the week prior to our weekly department meeting, post to company's Twitter account. During this time I also drink a smoothie that I made yesterday and eat another cereal bar.

10:30 to 11:45--Weekly department meeting. Go over tasks for the week, discuss some issues, figure out ways to get things done. Usual meeting nonsense. Zone out during my coworker's portion of the meeting since everyone is talking about a trade show that I'm not involved in.

11:45 to 12:50--Back at my desk, yay! Check email, continue working on reviews, do some follow up work that came out of the meeting, most posting to Twitter. Chat on Gmail with a friend for a few minutes.

12:50 to 1:30--Leave the office for lunch, which is really me going to Walmart. Gobbling an apple on my way there, I get everything on my list: toilet paper, paper towels, cat litter, conditioner, and dishwasher soap. Get a few other odds and ends, including hamburger rolls for tonight's dinner. Also, for the very first time, I bought diapers. My work is sponsoring a diaper drive for a local diaper bank.

1:30 to 2--More emails, more reviews work.

2 to 2:15--Meet with head graphic designer about a consumer promotional email we're going to be sending this week. Give him the specs for the image that I need created.

2:15 to 5--More emails! Finish up the reviews work (there were a lot this week, a rarity), heat up my can of soup around 2:30. Work on another consumer promotional email. Follow up with other departments about tasks that are pending. Around 4, I eat a mini bag of microwave popcorn.

5:05 to 5:45--Drive home, very angry about something I read in an email towards the end of the day. Try to rationalize why the sender (one of the owners) wrote what they did, and plan to talk with her on Wednesday when she's back in the office.

5:45 to 6:15--Finally home! Unpack car, get mail. Bring everything inside, unpack things and put them away. Hop online for a bit. I had planned on going on the treadmill for a half hour and then outside to plant some things, but that didn't happen. I was so annoyed and upset by that email and some other things, I just needed to veg.

6:15 to 6:25--Father in law calls, he forgot it's Turtle's late night (again). Chat with him a bit, he asks about the layoff situation, I tell him that I don't know what to say, really. In the meantime, I'm watering plants that are on our back deck which we bought on Saturday and are waiting to be planted.When we hang up, he sounds depressed. I don't blame him.

6:25 to 6:55--Write today's other blog post.

6:55 to 7--My mom calls, thanking me again for a great dinner yesterday.

7 to 7:30--Back online, reading blogs, checking email, etc.

7:30 to 8:30--Shut down computer. Turn on washer, start filling tub. Light grill, then run upstairs for dirty clothes, throw them in the washer. Throw the turkey burgers on the grill, come back inside. Clean out litter box, dustbuster the stray litter. Also dustbuster the furballs that have accumulated on the stairs. Check the grill. Put chicken in cold water to defrost for tomorrow. Fold laundry that was drying on rack. Start boiling water to steam broccoli ahead of time for tomorrow's dinner. Prep broccoli, check grill. Turkey burgers are done, put them in the oven to keep warm. Set table, pulling out everything we'll need for dinner--salad, dressing, condiments. Slice an onion. Take notes on what I did so far today for THIS post. Turtle comes home, very very drained, mentally and physically because of what's going on at work these days.

8:30 to 8:45--Turtle goes upstairs to lie down for a few minutes. The laundry has finished--I put some in the dryer and hang up what doesn't go in the dryer (our work clothes) on the drying rack. Pull broccoli off of heat, let cool.

8:45 to 9:15--Turtle comes downstairs, we eat. He goes back upstairs.

9:15 to 9:30--Put food back in fridge and dirty dishes in dishwasher. Run dishwasher. Put chicken back in fridge (it's now thawed out), followed by the broccoli. Pull laundry out of the dryer. Wipe down table and counter.

9:30 to 9:45--Back online to type this up.

I don't know what's going to happen next. TV? Read? Bed?

Sometimes I wonder...

if I'm meant to be where I am, and whether I should just stop trying to change or move on from situations that I'm in. Maybe I'm "fighting" too much? Trying too hard? I don't want to sound defeatist, because I don't really feel that way. Instead, perhaps I should put my energies and focus towards something that can be changed.

If you haven't guessed, I'm talking about work. Although, the "trying too hard" could be applied to many situations. Anyone who knows me (or reads here) knows that my job makes me pretty miserable. I have had worse jobs, so I know this isn't the worst it could be.

To help myself not go absolutely crazy, I have been spending time looking for a new job. I updated my resume, I scan the online ads when I get a free minute and am not at work since they blocked the job sites (SMART!), I have signed up for the alerts of new postings--both in pursuit of finding something to apply for. I'm hopeful. But in the past few weeks, I've only found 3 or 4 jobs that 1) I could actually do and 2) seem interesting enough that I wouldn't be wasting anyone's time by applying. For a while, I was pretty gung-ho about applying. "I'm smart, I know a lot of things, I can do more/better," was what I told myself and others. People believed in me. I believed in me. While positivity and high self-esteem is good for job hunting, it can slow down when the opportunities are less plentiful. And then you feel like you'll never find anything.

When I'm at work, I complain about certain things that will probably never change, or get so angry with and frustrated by my idiot boss that I get a headache. I'm not joking--he's nice, but is a horrible manager, can't get anything done, he would be better off as the "boss" of his own stuff, and not have a department to manage. I really don't know why the owners of my company hired him.

I get mad at the owners for their inconsistencies, for making us pay SO much for health insurance, for not realizing that we are people. But do any of my wishes or questions or comments really change anything? Am I trying too hard in this regard? Maybe I would be better off to just stay still, be quiet, and do my job.

Am I meant to be here? Is there a lesson to be learned from this? I've been at my current job almost 5 years, and for the most part, have been unhappy most of this time. On and off, I've looked for a new job, but during this time, we had a devastating economic bust, including my own husband being laid off for a year and a half. He's facing another layoff. It's a long, complicated story, that might not end up in a layoff, but that's anyone's guess right now. We're both looking, but no bites as of yet.

I know, I'm lucky to have a job. And I'm not working in horrible conditions. I could be a migrant worker, who has to travel around to find work with no guarantees, or I could live in a country that has very few labor laws. But I don't want to be here.

I once had a job that I loved, but the pay was terrible. I hated leaving that place, although I'm sure that had I stayed, I wouldn't still be there. I am 100% positive that I would have been laid off eventually. And where did I go when I left there? To my current place. And it's like I can't get out.

I do feel trapped at times, and scared that I'll never find something that I love, that makes me happy and that is worth my time (pays well enough). I have been working since I was 13, first babysitting constantly, then when I was old enough to get a "real job," I did. Some summers while I was in college, I had multiple jobs. Am I worked out? I don't think so. It's not that I'm lazy, perhaps it's just that I haven't found the right fit. But, I've tried grad school three times. I have enough graduate level credits to get a master's...if only all of the credits were in the same field! And to switch fields or to try anything new is difficult if you don't have schooling or other training to make you look like a stronger candidate. "Where's your experience?" "How do you qualify for basket weaving, if you've spent the past 10 years making bottle caps?" That stuff.

Lately, our thoughts and discussions have drifted to "when we have kids." Of course, my health is still the primary barrier that's keeping us from starting a family. But there have been some financial factors as well. This might sound crazy, but sometimes I think that the reason I can't find a better job is because I'm not meant to be working for much longer ;-) Sometimes I feel like that thought is a cop out. Even though I would MUCH prefer to leave the "working world" and devote my time and energy to things closer to home. I always joke with people that what I love doing and what I'm good at are things that generally don't pay well.

Speaking of things I love and am good at, time to make dinner.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Reassurance needed

What doesn't kill us, makes us stronger....right?

And, God doesn't give us more than we can handle...right?


I certainly hope so.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Hair update

I had some inquiries as to how the haircut went, sooo....

Part 1. Dry cutting
It was a little weird sitting in the chair, having someone cutting pieces out of your dry hair, but I took it all in stride. When Sarah, the stylist, was done, she showed me how much she cut off/out. It wasn't as bad as I thought--about 2 inches from each layer that she created.

Part 2. Washing
THEN I got my hair washed, but only with conditioner, since I'd washed my hair for real that morning. Sarah commented on how dry my hair was, which I never realized. Hence the "halo" of frizz that surrounds my head. Apparently this will calm down with time (and moisture!). While she was washing my hair, Sarah explained how I need to wash it: massage the scalp, but scrunching/squeezing the hair up the shaft, towards my scalp. I'd read this previously on some curly haired message boards and while flipping through the Curly Girl book at my old job at the bookstore.

Oh, and no more regular shampoo. Which is fine--for about the past 2 weeks, I've been using conditioner-only or when my head's felt a little gross, some baking soda. I was telling my mom about this yesterday and my brother was in the room, and started reciting the "shampoo vs. conditioner" scene from Billy Madison. So for your enjoyment, I give you this:

Part 3. Getting the water out
No more turbans, no more terry cloth. That's what makes frizz happen. Microfiber towels should be used, but I'm cheap and lazy so I'd been using a "dirty" t-shirt that was in the laundry. (I say "dirty" because it was worn once and needed to be washed, but not disgusting that I wouldn't touch my hair with it. I think you know what I mean.) This is a fine choice if you don't have/don't want to buy/etc. a microfiber towel. If you do, you don't have to get them at a fancy store--Target/Walmart/etc. sells them in the auto section.

Note: You can also use paper towels, but WHO WOULD DO THAT???? Horribly expensive and terrible for the environment!!!!

Part 4. Product
After squeezing all MOST of the water out of my hair with a towel, we talked about what to put in my hair. We started with gel. I hadn't used gel in years? decades? so this was funny, to me. Sarah started at the tips, scrunching my hair, working its way up the shaft. I was imagining my hair looking SUPER stiff, the "wet" look...but it didn't. My curls were starting to get defined a bit and were a bit stiff but not too bad. She also sprayed a moisturizing spray near my roots, on the outer layer of my head.

Part 5. Pinning
Because curls/waves go down, they can pull on the hair, making the areas near the roots very flat. I usually have no problem with volume (hair OR voice, haha) but in this case, it might be necessary. Using these small duckbill pins (a tiny version of the pins you might use to section off your hair while getting it cut), Sarah pinned sections of my hair right at the root. (This is not something that I would HAVE to do every day--in fact, when I did my hair myself today I didn't.)

Part 6. Drying
Going under the "old lady dryer" is nothing new for me. For years, I've been put under there as punishment for having so much hair and hurting my former stylist's shoulders/arms. Kidding. Since I have so much hair, it's a time-saver to have me sit under there and get a lot of the moisture out before using the blow dryer.

Hair clipped, I again sat under dryer to let the curls set. Again, this is not something you'd have to do at home. Besides, I'm not buying a dryer and I don't have that kind of free time! The real purpose was that so the hair would dry faster and Sarah could see how well the dry cutting went.

Part 7. Cutting again
After I was dry, or close enough, I went back to the cutting chair, and Sarah took out the pins and then examined the curls and waves that were now on my head. She did a few more snips, here and there, and then proclaimed me as finished. She told me not to touch the curls until they were fully dry, then I could squeeze them to "break the cast" or make them not so stiff from the gel.

So that all happened on Friday afternoon. Saturday, I woke up and looked at my hair. It looked similar to how it did when I went to bed, except that the cast had been broken by the weight of my head. I also had a lot of frizz, but I'd been forewarned about this and knew I could spray some water on it. I did that, in an attempt to revive the curls. It worked...for a while. It was still frizzy looking, and to me, it looked really messy. It takes time--not only for the person to get used to wearing their hair like this, but also for the hair to get the moisture back. It will get better--some take 2 weeks, some take 2 months.

Today is Sunday and the first day that I've fully styled it myself. Just some gel, no pins. Nice waves/curls. I don't know what you'd call them. The frizz is still here though.

I'm waiting for someone at work tomorrow to ask me if I got a perm, hahaha.