The Snow Child

Every couple of months, I find it in my schedule to make a trip to the area chain of used bookstores. I prefer Half Price Books, but I have found decent selections at The Salvation Army and Goodwill as well.
On my most recent stop at HPB, I picked up a book out of their clearance aisle. The title being, “The Snow Child” by Eowyn Ivey.  Now, this book was only $2.00, so that probably had a lot to do with me picking it up. However, I did browse through it a bit to see what it was about.. I swear. I don’t just buy books for their covers. Though I almost did. Ahem.

As far as I could tell, and as far as the inner jacket of the book told me, this book is about a couple living in Alaska. This couple is unable to have children and so, one day, they build a child out of snow. Then something peculiar happens.. the child becomes real.

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This kind of hit home for me as I am also past the time in life where I think having a child is a good idea. Still, part of me wonders what would have been. It really is impossible to satisfy both sides of this coin, so grieving is a good way to accept what is and move forward.
I think part of me picked this book up because of that.  The only thing I worry about is that this will turn into some story where the couple gets the child of their dreams and all is merry and right with the world once again.If that’s what happens, I will make a new window when I throw this book at the wall.

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I could start my own demo business – just give me bad books to read.

Still, with my reservations, I am beginning the book.

I wish I had a book club to go to that was also reading this book, so I decided to start a conversation about it on here. Every week, I will read so many chapters and jot down what happened, how I reacted, and the whys. I will talk about the characters, the situations they face, and how I can relate to them.
I am really hoping someone else out there will want to talk about this, too, but I know how vast the Internet can be. So I’m not going to hold my breath.

Still, if you have anything to say, it’d be great to hear from you!

On to Chapter One!

Hypno-Whatsit

I suffer from various Parasomnias

par·a·som·ni·a

ˌparəˈsämnēə/

noun
A disorder characterized by abnormal or unusual behavior of the nervous system during sleep.

 

Just like most health-related issues I have, my parasomnia is “unspecified”. This simply means that the healthcare professionals I have seen have no clue why what is happening, is happening. Super.

My main issues are similar to Hypnogogia and/or Hynopompia. The difference being that I don’t experience these phenomenae when I’m falling asleep or waking up. I have a tendency to experience them throughout the sleep cycle. I will be dreaming and, even as I’m asleep, I am consciously aware. I think to myself, “Oh no, my brain is start to feeling off.” And then the crap hits the fan.

The good news is that I have a level of consciousness through these experiences. I can attempt to steer the dream back into “safe territory” or to wake up. Just last night, I had an incident, but let me set the stage. I am sick with a head/chest cold. I had woken up just before my husband left for work so I could take some medicine. I remained in a limbo sleep state as Hubby was getting ready for work. I finally fell asleep just after he left, but awoke again when he texted to let me know he made it to work safely.

I should note that Hubby does not keep me awake. Although there are times he wakes me up, and instantly regrets it, I put myself on a “high alert” state of mind until he leaves. I used to do this so I could fall asleep and still be safe. Now, I do this so that I can still fall asleep but be aware of my surroundings so I can hear text messages and the like. It is probably the main cause of my parasomnia.
The last thing I remember is typing out “Ok, I Love you. Have a good day.” Next, I was standing at work. It happened in the span of an exhale. I was lying in bed one second and then standing at work the next. Instead of panicking and trying to find an exit (like I normally do), I said to myself, “Well, I’m here now. I’ll just stay here until I wake up.” I did. I woke up just fine after acting like it was a normal, 8 hour day at work and I actually got some decent sleep.
This is an exception. Normally, like I said before, I panic. Triggering the Fight or Flight Response while in this state will cause all kinds of hidden nasties to come out of my subconsciousness. It’s not pleasant and the effects linger for days (sometimes weeks). Because of one such occurrences, I now refuse to wear green striped shirts. It’s weird, I know, but believe me.. I have my reasons.
Being conscious while experiencing sleep abnormalities can also be bad because it leads me to have a full memory of the events. I remember dreams like I remember memories.
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I know I’ve talked about this before, but I’m beginning to understand it more. I’m beginning to get more of a grasp on it. I panic less and accept more. This can sometimes backfire, however. There are times during these states where I have to say, “No, this will not happen. I will not experience this. I am in control and I am unafraid.” Those can be difficult and it can swing either way: into true nightmare territory or into an experience of empowerment
Just this past week I had an experience in a dream that was about to turn very unpleasant. I remember saying to myself in the dream, “Time to turn the channel.” Suddenly, my dream images were inside a giant television and a hand came out of nowhere and turned a knob on the side. The “T.V.” clicked to another ‘station’ and I began dreaming about something else.
It might take some practice, but controlling unpleasant dreams can become a reality!

Lost on the Trail

This story is based on real events.

Since Hubby and I moved, we’ve been hiking at Brukner Nature Center to get some exercise. Usually, we hike for about 30 minutes. It’s nice because we get to view nature, have some talk time, and exercise. Even better is that, even though the nature center closes at 5pm, the trails are open until sunset.

And thank God for that.

Today, Hubby and I decided that we needed some exercise and to unwind a bit. What to do? Brukners!

We headed down the closest trail from where we parked. No worries. We talked a bit, I stopped to take pictures, and we enjoyed the green starting to show.  We headed down “Pioneer Trail” which I dubbed “The Green Path Between the Trees”. We suddenly came to a stop as the trail ended without warning. Oh well. We turned around and headed the other direction, snapping photos of some pretty purple flowers along the way.

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Pioneer Trail The Green Path Between the Trees

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Purple flowers poking through.

We continued on, trying our best to find ways around the muddy areas, until we couldn’t talk anymore because we were out of breath. What do you know? Outlook Point was straight ahead.

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Outlook Point

There were benches where we could catch our breath, and a wonderful view where we could lose it, again.
At one point, an argumentative group of people walked past on one of the paths below. I tried to get Hubby to yell “Hello,” with me, but I was the only one who did. Alas, no one played along and the group ended up going their separate ways, yelling at one another.
“Why aren’t people sociable, anymore?” I asked Hubby.
“Socializing would be actually going down there and introducing yourself,” he claimed.
“I prefer distanced socializing,” I informed him.

We headed back to the trails after getting one last view from Outlook Point.

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The View

We decided to go down some trails we had never tried before. Now, mind you, we had left the convenient map at home. The one we paid $0.25 for in the gift shop the first time we were at Brukners. We didn’t let this thwart our adventures! Off we went, selecting trails based solely on how they looked at the time.
As per usual, this became somewhat of a problem. We had ventured so far on unfamiliar trails that we began to wonder whether we would make it back to the parking lot before the sun set.

It didn’t help that the trail markers were usually of no use or, sometimes, outright wrong.

A helicopter flew overhead and I asked Hubby if we should set up a smoke signal.
“Maybe they’ll hear me if I shout HELLO! really loudly,” I quipped.
“Just keep walking,” Hubby sighed.

Walk we did. Right into a trail called the Buckeye Loop. I figured it meant “loop” as in, “Hi, I’m the Buckeye Loop Trail and I will eventually loop back around to the parking lot.”
Nope. It meant loop as in, “Hi, I’m the mother fucking Buckeye Loop Trail and I’m going to tease you into thinking you’re headed back to your car for some much needed rest and relief. Jokes on you, though! We’re going to go waaaaaay out this way and then loop back around to the super steep hill you think you’re avoiding by taking me. HAHA!”

Bitch.

Partway through the Bitcheye Loop Trail, we spotted stairs. Oh sweet mercy, there is a god! Stairs!

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Stairs never look so damn good!

Unfortunately, we seemed to get further from the stairs. Neither Hubby nor I could figure out how to get to them short of swimming a very cold creek. I considered it, but Hubby was able to talk me into simply continuing down the trail.

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Goodbye sweet stairs!  I’ll always remember you!

We ventured up and down, and up and down some more hills.
“We came this way to avoid that super steep hill, right?” I asked Hubby.His sigh and quickened pace was the only answer I needed.

We were fortunate enough to avoid the mud and actually found some more benches! We figured that was the only break we were going to get as we watched the sun slip lower into the sky. But lo! Just around the curve….

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And a choir of angels sang..

Oh sweet stairs!

Maybe the Bitch.. er.. I mean, Buckeye Loop Trail didn’t hate us afterall. It was all just to prove to ourselves how much we could.. wait.. say what?!

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The “bridge”

I looked down the path and then at Hubby.
“That is NOT a bridge.”
He just shrugged and said something upbeat and optimistic that I couldn’t hear because the trail was laughing at me and telling me that I was, in fact, it’s personal bitch now.

I went first.

I approached the “bridge” from the side and bypassed the first stone. It looked characteristically wobbly and unstable.
“I’ll just step on this sturdy looking square stone, instead,” I thought to myself.

Woops! It was the wobbly one. Thankfully, there were low-hanging branches that I was able to brace myself on.

The rest of the stones were pretty stable and I was able to make it to the other side without falling in the very cold looking water.

“Ha! Take that you Bitch Loop!” I said, as I pointed to the stones.
The only response I got from Hubby was a quizzical look that no doubt meant he was asking himself if he did, in fact, marry this woman.

As we continued down the trail and back towards the parking lot, or so we hoped, we noticed a strange sound. Well, I suppose not strange as in unusual.. We had been hearing squirrels and snakes rustle through the leaves the entire time.
But this time, it sound more like.. large strides – like large bipedal strides. I thought of yelling, “Hello!” but I was captivated by the sound. It was slow and moving closer.
Hubby and I stopped and craned our necks and eyes.

Nothing. The sound stopped. A few squirrels ran by, but not the thing that was making the noise on the other side of the steep hill.

“Probably just a teenager that wandered off the path,” I said, trying to reassure us.
Hubby gave me a look that said what I was thinking, “Nope, it’s Bigfoot.”

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Come on out, Bigfoot! We won’t hurt you!

Alas, our adventure ended when we finally spied the super steep hill.
I was panting and exhausted at this point, and not much looking forward to the climb, so I didn’t snap a picture of the monstrosity.
I’ll have to do that when we go back. *shudders*

We were able to make it back to the parking lot, after hitting the outside bathrooms, and Brukners rewarded us for our efforts with a lovely field of daffodils.. and one oddball hyacinth.

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Okay.. two oddball hyacinths.

All in all, it was a good hike. Hubby came home tired “in a good way” and shortly went to bed.
I, on the other hand, am plotting my revenge for that stupid Loop Trail. . .

Dynamite. That’s it! I’ll blow it out of the sky!  HAHAHA!  *ahem*

Moving On

It can be hard to move on. Whether we’re moving on from a break-up, getting fired, or a familial fallout, we can get stuck in over analyzing things.

Don’t get me wrong, sometimes it can be good to go over they “Whys”. There’s a proven problem-solving method called “The 5 Whys” and it can help get to the bottom of a problem to find a better solution. It kind of works like this:

  1. Why did my girlfriend leave me? Because I wasn’t satisfying her emotional needs.
  2. Why wasn’t I satisfying her emotional needs? Because I didn’t know what they were.
  3. Why didn’t I know what her needs were? Because she never told me.
  4. Why didn’t she ever tell me what her needs were? Because we both had different schedules and never spent time together.
  5. Why did we both have different schedules? Because we had to go to work and help family and friends.

So the underlying problem isn’t that he wasn’t meeting his girlfriend’s needs, it’s that they weren’t making time for one another in their busy schedules. Now he can move forward from constantly asking, “What did I do wrong?” to “What can I do differently next time?”

But sometimes, moving on can be difficult. Even after we go through the “5 Whys”, we can still ruminate about the things that happened. Even when these things are not our fault, we can feel that familiar pang in our chest that is reminiscent of regret.

When we start to feel regret over the situation and are struggling to move forward, we might try avoidance strategies to put ourselves into a conscious state of denial. Although this can help at first, it can lead to more emotional build-up and more stress. In the long run, this can actually lead to taking longer to moving on.

“Well then, what’s the magic secret to ‘moving on’?” you might wonder. There isn’t one. It’s just a daily reminder that you are doing the best you can, dealing with the emotions as they arise, and constantly tweaking your coping mechanisms to replace the now unhealthy ones with newer, healthier ones.

Lately, I’ve been having a lot of stress and I’m finding it difficult to keep my anxiety and melancholy in check.  Getting outside and walking in the sunshine, making short trips to places that aren’t terribly crowded, and cleaning seems to be this week’s way of dealing with things. Throw in a bit of reaching out to trusted individuals, having awesome pet buddies, and playing games with the Hubby, and my anxiety is.. manageable

Just remember, even though you may feel as if you’re going through hell, try to handle things the best you can. It’s not fair to lash out to others who are trying to help. I know, sometimes the ‘help’ seems more of a hindrance. Tell them. Communication is vital in this scenario.

Whatever it is you do, just keep moving forward each day and soon.. it will all be an unpleasant memory.

Bronchial Blues

So, it’s Winter here in the good ole Midwest. That means many things. First and foremost, the MidWest is Mother Nature’s PMS belt. It’s Spring one day, fuck-me Winter the next, and then Fall or Summer. Who knows? Not Mother Nature!

When it does finally decide to act like Winter and get cold, it gets colder than the tit of a witch soaking in an ice bath. I dunno, I have a fever. Just roll with it.

Anywhoo, it has been doing this all January and February long: Cold one week, warm the next. Blowing and cold for a few days, blowing and warm for a few days. This, as you can guess, has caused a lot of sickness to occur. Unfortunately, when you already have immune system and respiratory issues, it causes a non-stop sickness to occur that only worsens with each of Mother Nature’s mood swings.

This is how I have gotten into my current health predicament. I am in the throes of bronchitis. Granted, I’ve had far worse upper respiratory illnesses. The thing is, I’ve been fighting this thing for going on 5 or 6 weeks, now. I first got it when I had to go stay with Mom for her surgery. Damn you, hospitals!
I would start to feel better once the weather changed, and then worse once it got cold, again. At one point, eating really became a problem. This is a serious problem for me as my body is accustomed to having copious amounts of food pounded into it on a regular basis. I swear I’m going to be Diabetic if I can’t start eating like I usually do (read: if I can’t start shoving more food into my fat face).

I digress.

I was getting better. I thought my days of calling into work sick were over. I was looking forward to getting the next couple weeks out of the way so I could get to my three day weekend. Woohoo!

Haha, no.

Winter decided to rear it’s ugly head and threw such a terribly cold bite into the air, that being out in it for short periods of time (and with a scarf and hood) threw my upper respiratory issues into full blown bronchitis. I was not simply coughing, I was hardly doing anything else.

I finally called into work and Hubby coerced me into seeing a doctor. I got the medications I needed to get well and looked forward to not having to spend my days cooped up in the apartment.  I was starting to feel a little better in some ways: I no longer hurt all over as if I had the flu and my breathing seemed to be less labor intensive. I was still coughing nonstop, however, and couldn’t seem to catch my breath. Dizziness and fatigue set in and I wanted to go to the ER. I discussed it with Hubby and we decided to go to a different Urgent Care, instead. I’m glad we did.

Turns out that the afore prescribed dosage of breathing treatments was a little too much. It was like using a wrecking ball to kill a spider. It was making me hyperventilate and causing me to actually cough more.

Go figure.

The good news is that I’m actually starting to feel better. The latest doctor prescribed lots of fluids, 24/7 humidifiers and air purifiers, and a new cough syrup that should help expectorate any nasties still lurking in the cavernous depths of my lungs. And I’m not just talking cleavage.

Uh, sorry.. fever and all. Ahem.

At any rate, I went to the Pharmacy to get my cough syrup. Keep in mind, cough syrup that you can get over the counter is already seemingly pricey, disgusting, and you have to take far too much of it.

This crap was more expensive than date night, worse than the nuclear-waste-like syrup from earlier this week, and I had to take enough to down 1200ml in 6 days. That’s 240 teaspoons of this vile concoction. How vile is it?

It is bright pink and has a flavor to it that does not resemble bubble gum or berry in any way, shape, or form. Rather, I liken it to the vomit of a nuclear-blasted, sparkly pink, My Little Pony.

And I have to take 240 teaspoons in 6 days.

So, that’s the worst of it, right? I mean, just man up and take the damn stuff! Right?

Oh, it gets better.

It causes drowsiness, dizziness, and blurred vision. I’m used to seeing the first two, but blurred vision?! How much alcohol is in this?
Meh, turns out not enough. I am not having any side effects and Hubby can fully attest to why. I mean, there’s a reason I don’t drink anymore. Right.

So, things are getting better *knock on particle board* and I should be able to return to work on Monday. Not that they’ll be happy to have me there considering what happened this past Tuesday.. but that’s another story for another time.

 

 

The Perils of Confusion

I sincerely apologize for being human and “down in the dumps”, as many call it. I know that society today teaches us to avoid negativity in any shape or form. We run after fleeting moments of happiness to distract us from the monotony of being an adult.

I’m tired of running.

It seems the world is filled with people that think being genuinely kind is a weakness. Instead, we are trained to prove ourselves through derogatory remarks that are thinly veiled as humor. It makes us feel smart, accepted, and “normal”. Never mind that the remarks are excessively obvious and unnecessary. No matter what, it is not acceptable to openly expose such behavior – that makes you odd and makes you the weird one.

I’m tired of being the weird one.

When there are problems, just complain. Offering solutions in a respectful and productive manner is not acceptable. People will ignore you, tell you that’s how they’ve always done it so it’s okay, or that you don’t know what you are talking about. No matter how severe the problem, use humor (again) to diffuse the situation and not fix anything. Try not to care that the problem will continue and negatively effect those nearby.

I care too much.

I’m tired of living in a world where I have to find coping mechanisms to “fit in”, be “normal”, or adopt an air of seemingly negative qualities. Is this what being human has come down to? I’m not interested.

I’m not interested in developing bad habits to cope with tendencies that are continually stunting our growth as a race. Drinking, over eating, thrill seeking.. you name it. In varying degrees, these habits are socially acceptable. It’s okay that half the workforce has to show up drunk or high on drugs in order to get through the day. Just shake your head at their obvious failure as a human being. It’s fantastic that people jump out of airplanes just to feel “alive”. What a great accomplishment! This is totally normal and okay.

It’s not okay.

I’ve always fought hard to try and be that which I thought I was supposed to be: An organized, multi-tasker who gets things done. Someone who continually moves forward. The thing is, there really is no place to go. It’s all a sham, a mirage. It’s all a giant hamster wheel that you’re running on while people are slinging eggs in your face. You’re supposed to grin and bear it, pretend it’s not happening, and even congratulate them on their aim.

I’m tired of living in a world where I so obviously don’t belong. I keep searching for a reason to stay.. a way to stay. I keep desperately looking for a way to exist the way everyone else does but without losing what seems to be my basic humanity.

I just can’t find this magical way. I’m beginning to think it’s not there; it never was.

People tell me that this means I must have a mental illness. I must possess an inane and genetic quality that makes it impossible for me to belong in this world. I must be different in a way that is unfixable. On this note, I must work to find ways to diminish this unfixable aspect of myself. I must hide it. I should be ashamed of it simply because it is more acceptable to be in denial about such things than it is to point them out.

I’m tired of hiding. I’m tired of carrying around guilt for seeing things differently than everyone else. I’m tired of this life. Just tired.

It just doesn’t make sense to me and I’m tired of trying to wrap my head around it. I try so hard to pretend to be “normal” and behave the way everyone else does. But I do it wrong, somehow, it’s not quite right and I can’t figure out why. I feel like an android pretending to be human but they all know I’m not like them. It’s not that I’m a robot with no feelings, quite the opposite. I seem to feel things more severely than everyone else. Simple slights make no sense to me to be made in the first place, nevermind that the intent was “in good humor”. If it was in such good humor, why risk the slight to begin with? If you are truly so comical, why put people down to get a laugh?
I’m so lost in all of this and there doesn’t seem to be anyone around to aid me, anymore.

I’ve tried everything I ought to: medicine, therapy, self-help techniques. Some of it used to work but none of it does now.  The thing is, I have to continue the charade. No matter how much I bumble about and fail at it, I have to do it again and again each day. If I don’t, those who rely on me won’t have the resources they need to live in this wretched world.

So each day continues the living nightmare. The dread of having to exist in my own skin. The guilt of not responding to things like everyone else does. I carry around confusion as to why I am so angry and frustrated all of the time. I can’t seem to understand why I am ignored, brushed off, and pushed around so much. I just don’t get the excuses: “You need to be more authoritative,” “You shouldn’t let things get to you so easily,” etc.

Why?

Why should I have to be borderline aggressive in order to have my verbal communications taken seriously? Why should I be indifferent to the intentions of others? Why should I not care about other peoples’ suffering as long as I’m not? I don’t get. Someone explain it to me. Why?

Married Life

Being married is just like being in any other type of cooperative relationship. There are times one or both people involved are not too happy with the current situation. But because there are goals to be met (not just financial ones), each individual agrees to work past these incidents and continue the team effort.

Okay, enough adulty, hoity-toity, therapy session talk. Lets, get down to the nitty gritty: Married life can be difficult. It can also be wonderful. Oddly enough, it can be both of these things at once. I’ve recently run into people that I haven’t seen in years. They ask how I am, how my family is doing, and if I’m enjoying married life.

That last question always confuses me.  I want to say, “Well, not always,” but I’m afraid they’ll take it the wrong way. My husband and I are what many would call “Happily Married”, but “happy” is such a relative term. We both work hard at making it work. We both appreciate what the other does. We both go out of our way to lift the other up.

On the flip side – we’re both lazy, selfish, and can be overly demanding. You know why? We’re humans. Neither one of us is a super powered spouse whose every move is perfect and doting. We all have various forms of needs, wants, and outright tantrums. It happens.

That being said, I wouldn’t give this up for anything. My husband is my best friend, my confidant, my support. He’s always there to make me laugh (especially when I don’t want to), listen to me even when what I’m talking about has no relevance nor substance, and I know that he will always be there if something should happen.

And yet, being married usually requires sharing things. We share living space and sleeping space. We share utensils, technological gadgets, vehicles, and sometimes even clothes. We share the affections of our pets, our families, and our friends. Sharing can be very good.

And sharing can be very frustrating.

“That’s not where that goes.” “That’s not how we organize that.” “That’s not how I do it.”

I have found that even in the most mundane of daily events, we have to stop and find the best way to do something for the team. Where do the kitchen utensils go and why? What is the best way to organize the filing cabinet? What kind of furniture should we get for the living room? We often spend more time than we should discussing (or compromising) the ways we do various, daily tasks.

In the past, I made decisions on my own. I might hem and haw over them, or I might make them on impulse. Either way, I was the one who made the decision and it left me feeling empowered (or regretful). Now, we both make decisions. It empowers the relationship when we work together to find the best solution. And when we make the wrong choice, we both deal with the regret together. (Or both chime in to convince one another that we did the best we could).

So if someone stops me to ask how I’m enjoying married life, I’m just going to smile and say, “Pretty good.” I know they may not understand, but that’s alright. The only other person who needs to understand, already does.