Thank Goodness The Next Christmas Isn’t Until Next Year

As an adult, Christmas has been my least favorite holiday.  For starters, I’m not so into the whole religious aspect.  Or the wasteful over-spending on gifts no one really needs.  And it’s almost not even worth mentioning the over-booking, the last-minute changes of plans, the cooking, cleaning and never-ending dish washing.

I do love spending time with family, under normal circumstances, so I’ve tried VERY hard over the past several years to  just enjoy the holiday season as family time.  It’s just hard when there is SO MUCH family time packed into a very few number of days, with burdensome plans and to-dos that get in the way of actually spending quality time.

I essentially married Mr. Claus; my husband is obsessed with all of the “delights” Christmas brings – gaudy holiday decorations, buying way too many presents for family members (the money spent could be used to feed and clothe a family of four for six months), 24/7 holiday music on the radio, and the unavoidable gluttonous consumption of peanut butter cookies and cheesy potatoes.

Seriously, I’m trying very hard to be a better person overall, which includes enjoying the holiday season with my family, but this year, I failed MISERABLY on all accounts.  Here’s why:


Pukey McPukeson strikes:  After celebrating with my dad’s side of the family, we woke up our sleeping babe around 11:30pm to begin our hour and a half trek home.  This was already several hours later than I’m used to staying awake (I’m lame, I know) so I was exhausted, and my stomach wasn’t feeling so hot. Since I’m pregnant, those two factors are quite typical lately, and were no concern to me.  About 10 minutes into the return trip, however, I became concerned.  I needed to puke.  My husband pulled over as fast as he could, and I ALMOST got my door open all of the way before puking out the side of my car. I let the rain/sleet wash away some of the puke as I wiped up as much as I could with paper towel.  Mr. Grouch can’t handle puke, so he walked away from the car and was dry-heaving.

Power Outage:  Around 1.30 am we got close to our house, and were greeted with an ice-covered landscape; a huge ice storm had hit our area.  We entered our neighborhood and discovered that we did not have power.  Many of the mature trees in our neighborhood could be seen toppled over onto the power lines.  Shit.  Mr. Grouch skated to our front door, heading inside the house to get supplies. Thank goodness we were able to find refuge at my parent’s house, only a few miles away.

ice covered trees
ice covered trees
ice storm 2013
ice storm 2013
View on our street.  Quite pretty, if you're looking at it from inside a warm house.
View on our street. Quite pretty, if you’re looking at it from inside a warm house.

Pukey McPukeson strikes cont…: I continued to have stomach troubles all night – I was up puking and shitting, and I had a small case of the shakes, so didn’t get almost any sleep.

SUNDAY 12/22:

Fish Tank Fiasco:  Mr. Grouch’s disgusting horrifying relatively new hobby is setting up and maintaining aquariums full of fish.  I will admit, when the fish aren’t dying grotesquely or eating each other, they are lovely to look at.  At this point, he’s sunk a decent amount of money into the tanks, so it would have been hard to just let all the fish freeze to death in our basement.  Not to mention the fact that he likes his little aquatic pals.  So, we borrowed his parent’s generator, to keep the fridge, freezer and aquarium running while we were out of power. This required him/us to come back and forth every 8-10 hours to refuel the generator.

Clearing Trees and Holes in Roofs:  Our family owns several rental properties nearby. Due to the storm damage, there were many trees that needed to be cut down and removed from a few of the houses.  Mr. Grouch was called in to help clear trees from four properties. At one of the houses, a tree had poked a hole in the roof, requiring that they also patch that up.   I was exhausted and still not feeling well, so took a couple of naps during the day while Yia Yia Grouch helped to watch the baby.  We migrated from my parent’s house to his parent’s house.

Winterizing the House:  Mr. Grouch didn’t want any pipes to burst so on one of his many trips back and forth to refill the generator with fuel, he drained the pipes in our house.

MONDAY 12/23:  

Leaking Sinks:  After a day of clearing trees and repairing roofs, Mr. Grouch was hoping to relax.  However that plan was foiled early on when Yia Yia Grouch’s kitchen sink started leaking into the basement.  He and Papou Grouch had to take apart, and then put back together, the kitchen sink.

Leaking sink meant water dripping into the basement.
Leaking sink meant water dripping into the basement.

Bulldozer Boy and The Gang:  Mr. Grouch’s sister was also without power, so she and her two boys came over to join us at Yia Yia’s.  Later in the evening, she went home to try to hook up a generator with her husband, and she left the kids with her parents (and us, by default).  Her two kids are incredibly smart, sweet, funny.  And energetic.  I’ve come to the realization that while I feel like I work incredibly well with teenagers, I have zero skills when it comes to dealing with 3-year-olds.  In fact, I’m becoming concerned about being a horrible mom once Baby Grouch gets to this age.

To be fair to myself, we can refer to one of her kids as Bulldozer Boy, because he’s basically a destructive nightmare, albeit in a cute little package.  He raced through the house, breaking holiday decor, shaking and knocking over the wrapped Christmas presents, turning the thermostat on and off, and almost knocking over Baby Grouch, at full-force, about 15 times.  He does not listen  (I know, I know, he’s three; he’s supposed to act that way). I’m sure I’m not the first to exclaim that three-year-olds are scary, obnoxious little fucks.

Regurgitated Wine on the Carpet:  Usually my mother-in-law and I sip on a glass of red together, at the end of the night, any time we spend the night at her house.  Since I couldn’t indulge, I bought her a four-pack of single serving Merlot, so she could have a glass without having to open up a whole bottle.  She deserved a treat since she was housing and feeding several extra house-guests (and let’s not forget, chasing around The Bulldozer). She hugged me, and tilted her head into my chest when I gave it to her.  She needed it. She sipped one of the wines right out of the mini-bottle, so she wouldn’t have to wash one more glass.

Unfortunately, not only did I bring her the red wine, I must have also brought her my plague, because in the middle of the night, she awoke, needing to throw up.  She rushed to the bathroom, and almost made it to the toilet.  She covered her mouth in a futile attempt to hold back the tide, resulting in spraying merlot-colored puke all over her cream carpet. She was sick all night.

TUESDAY 12/24:

Carpet Cleaning:   Yia Yia Grouch is one tough cookie, so after being up all night sick, she was up and at ’em in the morning, and was more concerned with the wine-stained carpet than her own health.  I figured since I brought over the wine AND the virus, the least I could do was to clean the carpet, as best I could.

Note the festive christmas colors of the carpet cleaner and rag
Note the festive christmas colors of the carpet cleaner and rag

Cats:  Today it was decided that my sister-in-law’s cats might freeze to death at their place, which was still without power, so the cats were brought over and they reluctantly joined the fun.  Meow. Meow.   Bulldozer Boy and his brother ran up and down the basement steps (the one part of the house adjacent to the room Baby Grouch was napping in), screeching at the top of their lungs that “the cat is stuck behind the washer!”  and, “I need my MOM! The cat is stuck behind the pipes!” for a solid 45 minutes.

cats at christmas
cats at christmas
cat at christmas
cat at christmas

Celebration Number 2:  Today was my husband’s side Christmas celebration – so all of us ate, opened presents and frolicked gaily, amidst the chaos that is family.  Other than my niece falling on her face on the kitchen floor and giving herself a bloody nose, it was exhausting, but quite a lovely time.  My sister-in-law introduced me to Anna’s Ginger Thins, which made the dealings with the adorable Bulldozer Boy more than worthwhile.

ginger thins are a delicious accompaniment to black tea
ginger thins are a delicious accompaniment to black tea


Late Breakfast:  Okay, at this point, I started to get tired.  Really tired.  And, let’s not forget I’m a hormonal basket case, and then my blood sugar plummeted.  Breakfast was supposed to be at 10:00, but my sister came in late, so we ate around 11.30 instead.  I couldn’t hold it together anymore.  This was my breaking point.  My alter-ego, Irrational Bitch Girl came out.  Just in time to celebrate with my immediate family.  Lucky them. Once I shoved breakfast into my face, I started preparing my dish to bring to dinner at my grandmother’s later that day.  On a positive note, my sister made up for her lateness with a delicious chorizo and sweet potato hash.

Cry-fest:   Once at my grandma’s, we were greeted with another packed house full of people expecting social interaction.  My body was in Reserve-Fuel-Mode.  It was keeping my heart pumping and hands moving, but there was very little extra energy remaining for talking, hugging or smiling.  My uncle leaned in for a Hello Hug, and said “Congratulations!” since I haven’t seen him since we announced our pregnancy. He then leaned in a little closer and said, “And my condolences on the losses“.  I said, “Oh, it’s okay. Thank you” and started crying and had to walk away.  I went over to the food table and took a spoonful of my dish.  Crunch.  The fucking rice didn’t cook all the way through. I was so pissed. What a waste of time and energy it was making that.  I went into the bathroom and cried again.  I was a mess. I cried a teensy bit more when my nephew, who has recently declared that he wants to be a priest when he grows up, performed “mass” before dinner – complete with readings from the Bible, a talk about prayer boxes and finishing with leading all 25+ of us in a rendition of This Little Light of Mine. It was beautiful.  I think I scared my sister’s boyfriend with all the Emotions.

Bitch-fest:  I was complaining incessantly about my shitty dish, and when I’m pissed/tired/sad I’m completely irrational.  I know this, and somehow can’t always stop the blather that forces its way out of my mouth.  I declared that I would never cook anything without a tried-and-true recipe, relying from that point on solely on Betty Crocker and Better Homes and Gardens.  I annoyed my whole family.  I also got asked for my recipe a couple of times.  Go figure.

Almost-More-Cats:  My good pal and neighbor friend texted me saying that they were also having a Christmas Nightmare Scenario and were heading back to the area, with or without power. We checked, and while our side of the neighborhood just got power back, unfortunately they were still without.  They panicked.  They asked if they could crash at our place, with their baby and their cat.  I laughed and actually welcomed the visit, as chaotic as it would be.

The thing was, I knew that when I told my friend about my Betty-Crocker-Only-Plan, she would call me an ass and we would create hypothetical scenarios about only eating take-out for the rest of our lives and we’d laugh and laugh and laugh about how stupid of an idea that really is, and I’d call myself an asshole, and that all sounded much better than the reaction given by family.You know the one, the You’re Always So Negative look of disgust, accompanied by zero laughs.  Friends always seem to bring out the best, family always the worst.  Maybe it’s because friends always seem to be able to decode irrational bitch-fest speak.  They understand that “I’m only cooking Betty Crocker from now on” is really code for, “Holy hell, I’m so fucking tired, and I didn’t have the energy to spare on one second of anything that wasn’t worth it, and I spared 45 minutes on the god-damned shitty dish instead of on my family like I should have”.

As it turned out, my pal ended up finding another place to stay that night, so instead of laughing, I just collapsed into a heap and slept like a rock in my own glorious bed.


Today at Yia Yia Grouch’s house, we talked about how the week had sucked for them as well (their mailbox was ran over by the snow plow and Papou Grouch’s truck broke down earlier that week) and she joked that God was mad at us this year and essentially cursed our Christmas.

FRIDAY 12/27: I just woke up to the sound of Mr. Grouch throwing up. Fucking hell.

When I cleaned out my freezer yesterday, I found this Holy Butter Lamb shoved in the back.  I pulled it out and put it in the fridge to use this week.  An offering to the Gods.  Maybe we’ll have better luck next year.

holy butter lamb.  don't ask why the fuck i had this in my freezer.
holy butter lamb. don’t ask why the fuck i had this in my freezer.

So, how was YOUR holiday season??

Depression is Analogous to Treading Water

Depression is hard to explain to those who haven’t experienced it firsthand. People who are lucky enough to not understand it often brush it off, and expect the depressed to just, “snap out of it”.  There’s no limp, no rash, no wheezy cough.  It’s an invisible ailment.  The disease is misunderstood and has a negative stigma and it can be embarrassing to admit you have mental health condition.  It is also biologically based and indubitably real.

When I think about my own depression, I liken the experience to being out in the middle of an ocean, treading water.

Satellite image of Tropical Depression One-C i...
Satellite image of Tropical Depression One-C in the Central Pacific Ocean (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You are just trying to keep your head above water.  You are using all of your energy to stay afloat.  You do not have energy to attend events, enjoy your hobbies or cheer on your friends.  You might be focusing so hard on surviving that you forget dates or meetings or to pick up bread from the store, or even to take your own meds. Compared to sinking and drowning in the salty sea, those other items are quite trivial.  It’s Maslow’s hierarchy in action.

You feel alone.  Stranded, stuck. There’s no one to talk to, no one to listen, no one to understand.  In a crowded room, at a family holiday, you’re still staring out at an open ocean, feeling utterly isolated.

It’s physically exhausting.  Treading water takes energy.  Your legs hurt, your neck hurts, your head hurts.  Your eyes hurt, your stomach hurts.  You’re tired.  All the time.  Tired.  You are so tired, you could fall asleep at your desk, at the grocery stores, driving your car.  You’re so tired you’re not sure how long you can keep this jig up.

You think you might not make it. Sometimes not knowing which direction leads to shore, means you remain immobile.  People who do not understand depression might think you don’t WANT to help yourself, that’s you’re being lazy – when in reality you just don’t know where to go.  You don’t know how to fix it.  You don’t know if you CAN fix it.  Sometimes something that used to help, doesn’t help anymore. You feel hopeless.

You think it might be easier to just let go and be swallowed up by the sea.  You’re just so tired and you don’t think it’ll ever get better.  You sit in the garage with the car running, thinking about shutting the door, much more often than you would ever outwardly admit.  Usually you just go inside and say hi to your spouse and start making dinner.  Some people eventually decide to stop pumping their legs and shut the garage door.

You might not be able to get out of this situation by yourself. Remember when Rose, from the movie, Titanic, was stranded at open sea, half-frozen on the trunk?  If you recall, the rescuers came to help, but at first she just blends in with the rest of the dead.  Most people can’t see how depressed you really are.  Even when the help was right there, Rose barely had the energy to reach out to them to save her own life.  The only thing that saved her was the whistle.  If you don’t have a whistle, of sorts, a way to get the help that’s needed in terms of medicine, therapists or other supports, it’s very difficult to get yourself out of the blackness.  Sometimes you have a whistle and just can’t see the rescuers.

You’re not very cordial.  You might notice that saying hello and turning the corners of your mouth upwards takes significantly more energy than you have stored within your cells.  Can you imagine a rescue team approaching someone who is stranded in the ocean, and them berating the person they are plucking from the tide because he or she isn’t affable?  Is too unsociable?  That’s the message we receive when our friends and family get upset at us for looking or acting like we feel. Sometimes we push away the lifesavers around us with our poor dispositions.  Sometimes the people we need help from the most unknowingly hold our heads under water.

Some days are okay while others are a nightmare. Sometimes treading water is okay.  Like, if it’s sunny and there’s a nice breeze and you’ve only been treading water for 20 minutes.  But, it is a whole different story if you’ve been stranded for days, without food, and it’s thunderstorming.  People with depression have good days and bad days (or months or years) depending on what’s going on and how long they’ve been feeling this way.  Seeing someone smile does not mean they are not struggling with depression.

You have irrational fantasies of being saved.  Mirages appear, making you feel like you are saved.  You think the depression will never recur.  Perhaps you’re picked up by a boat, and you think, “Hooray!  I’ll never be in this situation again!”, But inevitably, the boat gets a hole and sinks and whoever rescued you drowns and you’re back in the same blackness you fantasized about never again having to experience.  And you think, “How did I get stuck out here, AGAIN?!”  As much as you feel like it won’t, it always comes back.  It always, always does.  Hint:  That’s how you know it’s a disease.

No one is ever really cured of depression.  If you struggle with depression, you’re always treading water.  Sometimes your legs are like lead and your head keeps going under.  Other times you’ve got your floaties on, bobbing in the Sun, with a clear view of land just over your shoulder.  You’re still always treading. It’s just a matter of how far offshore you are.

For those of you who have experienced depression, how do you explain it to other people?

If you liked this post you may also like:  A Bit of Gray Peeking Out

Underwater Soap Opera

Mr. Grouch has decided to pick up a few hobbies recently. One of these hobbies is maintaining a freshwater fish tank.  This tank has been chock full of drama from the beginning – a replacement for any soap opera on TV, I would argue.  I give you evidence in the following examples:

PRETTY CHARACTERS:  A Platinum Blond Angel, a beautiful Striped Angel, gem colored Blue and Sapphire Rams, striped Barbs, flame red Platys, a colorful Gourami and a boldly spotted Plecko.  All of the characters are well-manicured and an overall attractive cast.

A CHARISMATIC MANIAC:  Originally one of our favorite, most active fish (“oh, look how curious  and active he is!”), the Gourami quickly became a terror.  He would swim back and forth across the entire length of the 5 foot fishtank, very effectively pushing the other 13 fish into the 4 corners of the tank.  Several of the fish cower and move aside every time they see him.  I didn’t realize how creepily still a fish could be, or how it could back up or maneuver itself sideways to get out of the way.

VIOLENCE:  The Gourami used head-butting and fin-nipping to take over the tank.  The Platinum Blond Angel took the brunt of most of this nipping and the once long and pointy elegant dorsal fin became blunt and shredded.

AN ACCOMPLICE TO CRIMES:  The Striped Angel quickly joined forces with the aggressive Gourami and the two would double team the Platinum Angel, following it around, headbutting and nipping.

INCARCERATION:  The Gourami got put into “time out” – a second tank created  solely for his isolation.  The Striped Angel got off with a warning.

VICTIM BECOMES VICTORIOUS: With the Gourami behind bars, the Platinum Angel turned the tables and began fighting back against the Striped Angel, chomping on the Striped Fin until it became the noble victor.

BABY MAKING AND UNKNOWN PATERNITY: We quickly learned that platys give birth to live young when one became a mother.  It is unknown which Platy is the father.  Teensy orange specks with adorable giant globes for eyeballs emerged, only to be very quickly consumed by the other fish in the tank.  I couldn’t watch as one wee cutie trembled in the rocks, post-poning his inevitable demise.

HORRIFIC, UNSOLVED HOMICIDE: Mr. Grouch counts his fish every night at feeding time.  One day he noticed one less in his count, and then a half-eaten Blue Ram gruesomely stuck to the filter.  Who killed him?  The mystery remains unsolved.

A SUICIDE:  Stressed to death or so saddened by the loss of her pal, the second Blue Ram refused to swim around or eat much and quickly kicked the bucket after the death of the first Ram.

What drama will unfold next?  The entire Grouch family watches the show daily, waiting to find out.



An Open Valentine to Mr. Grouch

I thought I had already completed my obligatory Valentine’s Day post, when I wrote a love letter to my nasal irrigation system.  But, then I thought there was no reason to disregard my OTHER lovey-dovey.  No need to mention which or whom I love more.

Mr. Grouch, you are a man apart,
You wake me with your Good Morning fart.

We met in the year Nineteen Ninety Seven,
According to you, we’re a match made in Heaven.

It is true that sometimes I want to give your head a punch,
And hear the bones in your nose go crunch.

But I am often reminded of your positive traits,
Your brains, your balls, your beautiful face.

You'll call customer service and be firm, yet nice,
You can get anyone selling to come down to your price.

You're a man! A strong man! You demand lots of power,
(yet I find it endearing, how bats and mice make you cower).

Your handyman projects save us so much dough,
That it’s okay the bathroom trim looks only so-so.

You're an incredible father, at parenting you're top rate,
Good luck with your plan though, to never let her date.

You rub my back and pull out my chair, 
And do not care that I need vats of Nair. 

You put up with me during my times of despair,
And my panic while camping - of attack by black bear. 

If I asked, you’d make me coffee in the morning, 
Except I no longer trust you, you made decaf once, without warning.

You are a manly man, a work of art, 
And I love everything about you, for the most part.
Early 20th century Valentine's Day card, showi...
Early 20th century Valentine’s Day card, showing woman holding heart shaped decoration and flowers, scanned from period card from ca. 1910 with no notice of copyright. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I Stalk My Family When They Sleep. And Take Pictures.

My husband and I met on the soccer field – we were on the same intramural team at MSU in 1997.  We talk about this long ago age in “pounds ago”, instead of “years ago” since we were once both young and spry.  Sometimes we still play on coed teams together, or he plays on his own team and I do other things like yoga or jogging (running a half marathon next weekend – wish me luck!)

Awhile back, he started complaining of a groin injury.  For some time, he had to do some physical therapy and take a soccer break in order for it to heal.  It helped.  At one point though, within the duration of this soccer break, he started to mention that the groin injury seemed to be returning; this confused him since he hadn’t been playing.

It’s old news that I have horrible issues sleeping.  Since I am awake periodically throughout the night I am able to easily spy on observe the other people in my house as they snooze.

My husband sleeps like a rock and awakes refreshed every morning.  For this I alternate between being envious and murderous, depending on how tired I am.  He does have one weird sleeping habit though.  He sleeps with his knees bent, with one leg upright, foot planted on the bed, knee towards the ceiling.  I snuck a picture of him doing it while he was sleeping the other night.  This is what it looks like:

This just looks uncomfortable to me.
This just looks uncomfortable to me.

I have no idea how he is able to hold his leg like this, while sleeping.  If it were me, my leg would topple one way or the other.

When he mentioned the groin injury recurrance, it dawned on me that THIS could be the cause of the injury, not his efforts on the pitch.  It must take some effort to keep that leg up, dontcha think?  He asked that if I see him doing this, I move his leg so it is lying flat.  This means that nightly I’m shoving his leg over to get it down in an effort to help him avoid a sleep-related injury.

So, imagine my giggles when I peeked in on Baby Grouch the other night and saw this:

I know she’s in a sleep sack, but you can see her left leg bent up just like his if you look closely! Follow the pink sleeper lines.

Oh, and here's another!  Caught her during nap  time after I originally posted this.
Oh, and here’s another! Caught her during nap time after I originally posted this.

Dream # 15: Mini-Triceratops, Boats and Hippos


My husband and I see an ant crawling on the counter top.  Gross.  Then, we notice a few other ones, as you usually see not one ant, but several at a time.  Then, a GIANT ant comes crawling up the side of the counter – it is a Queen Ant.  I’ve never seen one this big; the ant is about the size of my forearm.  At first, it looks like a normal ant, but at second glance, I realize it actually looks like a Mini-Triceratops.  It is green and yellow mottled, and not shiny and black, like I had originally thought.  We decide to take the ant outside, and we think we should take it far away from the house, so it doesn’t get back in.

The ant is so big that the best container we can think of to carry this thing in is a poster-sized mailing tube.  My dad doesn’t want to spend money on the tube so he makes a makeshift one, and I make him carry it in case it falls apart – I don’t want to touch the ant.

We hop on a golf cart, me, my dad and my husband, and head out.  On our way to wherever we were going to drop it off, we pass through a water park – we have to drive the golf cart up onto a small ferry, and the ferry takes you through the park. The park is basically all water and the boat stops at different attractions along the way. Since people on our ferry want to see the park we stop at the hippo station.  There are a bunch of hippos basking in the sun on a sandbar.  The ferry is tiny and not very sturdy, and while we are there, two of the little kids on the ferry fall off the boat and land with the hippos.

I quickly hang on to a bar with my hands, and lean my body out of the boat, and I pick up one kid with my feet, bring him back on the boat and then do the same with the other one. One of the kid’s names is Faizal.


TRICERATOPS:  Dream Forth tells me that To dream about a dinosaur suggests an antiquated ideology. You should consider eliminating these ways of thinking.  Inspired by Dreams adds that, to dream that a dinosaur could also indicate previous issues that are returning to my subconscious conscious mind.  So, apparently I’m supposed to stop thinking about what my subconscious is thinking about. Hm.

HIPPOPOTAMUS:   Inspired By dreams tells me that the hippopotamus presents a sort of hybrid, in that it is an animal associated with diving beneath the water, where its large size is indicative of the enormous emotions that can be submerged.   I’M IRISH AND ITALIAN….WE shove our emotions deep inside and ignore them DON’T HAVE ENORMOUS EMOTIONS….WE HAVE ENORMOUS TOLERANCES FOR BOOZE AND ENORMOUSLY LOUD FIGHTING VOICES INSTEAD.

Dream Forth tells me that a hippopotamus is a quiet creature with hidden strengths. And, to dream of a hippopotamus pertains to revealing your strength and power.  Hm, this means that I must have some hidden strength buried beneath….what kind of strength, I wonder?  Strength enough to come out on top of this Right to Work bullshit legislature that has been pushed through our state government? Strength enough to run a marathon?  Strength enough to survive never sleeping in past 6 o’clock AGAIN?  If I am ever asked to survive a morning without coffee….surely I do NOT have strength enough for that.

BOAT:  To dream that you are in or see a boat indicates that you are adept at handling your feelings and communicating them to others.  Let me stop Dream Forth right there.   Apparently Dream Forth didn’t listen to what Inspired By Dreams told me about hippos.

I am completely INEPT at handling and communicating my feelings.  Are you kidding me?  I take things too hard, I dwell about all of my screw-ups, and I am innately emotionally unstable, with severe depressive tendencies.  Instead of explaining my deep inner emotions, I just act out angrily.  This is so much easier and prevents me having to think about what is ACTUALLY bothering me.  Dream forth asks me to consider the appearance of the water I was sailing on, as this can indicate my emotional state.  Of course, I have no idea what the water looked like.  I’m avoiding my emotions even in my dreams.

ANT:  Inspired by dreams tells me that ants can appear in a dream when I am not dealing with a situation that is bugging me. The small size of this insect can also portray vulnerability or feeling insignificant. All I have to say about this is HIPPOS.  How are ants and hippos the same?  Weird.

So, what does all this mean? Should I delve further into what is bothering me in order to sort it out and make it right?  Should I start therapy and try to pry whatever issues are submerged within my unconscious mind?  Or should I drink a boatload of wine at night and soak up the alcohol in my system the next morning with buckets of coffee, fried eggs and bacon?  Well, if you follow me on Facebook or Twitter, you certainly know the answer to that question.

Well, Shit, That Doesn’t Sound Good.

Yesterday morning was a little rough.

I never answer my phone when I see a number I don’t recognize.  So, it was not out of the ordinary when I ignored my phone after seeing “Restricted” pop up on my caller id.  I muted the call and went back to sipping my coffee and singing to Baby Grouch in my horrendously off key tones.  Maternity leave is so grand!

I noticed the voice mail icon pop up, so I called to see who had hidden their number from me.  It was the doctor’s office calling and telling me that my doctor had a message for me and that I should call back.  That was a half-truth.  It was the nurse practitioner who had a message for me.

(Background:  I had a doctor who was AH-MAZ-ING.  He moved and I got transferred to a new doctor in the same building.  My new doctor appears to be a twit, since she doesn’t remember much about me from one visit to the next, and who gives me advice and dismisses issues related to my health without looking at my chart or asking me any questions.  Needless to say, I don’t value her opinion and am looking for a new doctor.  In the meantime, I started seeing a nurse practitioner, Kara, at the same office, since I really like the office and need to keep up with my preventative health care.  Kara really impressed me at the last visit, which is not the easiest thing to do.  She was thorough, she asked a lot of questions, and she read through all of my information on the computer.  I liked her right away.  I may continue to see her – as clearly there isn’t a correlation between having a doctoral degree and being able to provide exceptional family practice care).

SIDEBAR:  When women tell stories, we start the story, and are, at some point, reminded of something else, so, we tell a little mini story and then sometimes another little mini story that is an off-shoot of the first mini story.  Eventually, we go back to telling the original story – at times needing a teensy reminder of what we were originally talking about.  This doesn’t mean we aren’t paying attention or we don’t eventually get to the point.  Someone tell my husband this is just how women’s brains work, okay?  Back to original story:

I had gone the day before to get some routine lab work done to keep an eye on things considering my chronic high blood pressure.  I wondered if the call was related to the blood work.  It seemed pretty early for them to even have the results back.  But, if they WERE back, it probably wasn’t a good thing if they were calling, right?  They don’t usually call for good news.  Hmmm…. I avoided returning the call for about 15 minutes until I worked up a little courage and then dialed the office number.

After being connected to the nurse, she told me that my microalbumin numbers seem exceptionally elevated and Kara had put my lab results on her desk, with a red flag and a note to call me immediately to have me re-do the test to see if it could possibly be accurate.

Well, shit, that doesn’t sound good.

“What were my numbers”, I asked?  “530”.  Okay, that means nothing without context.  I asked a follow-up question, “What are the numbers supposed to be?”  The nurse hesitated a bit and then said, “Between 0 and 19”.

Well, shit, that doesn’t sound good.

Let’s hope that the blood work re-do numbers look a little better.


So, in every profession, there are people who make mistakes.  It’s a part of being human, I suppose, and we all understand that no one is perfect, and that it is ridiculous to expect perfection.

Unless you’re a teacher.

Then, you’re supposed to get 100% of students to meet 100% of standards, and if you don’t, you’re clearly the Anti-Christ and the very idea that you should be able to collectively bargain for things such as class size and a planning period are preposterous.

I digress.

I went back for lab results, slightly concerned that I would have to ask my sister for a kidney, and that I wouldn’t be able to drink wine anymore, but HAVE NO FEAR – I can guzzle away and save my favor-asking for later.  My updated microalbumin level is 5.  FIVE.  Not FIVE HUNDRED THIRTY.  Slightly off there the first time.

Whew.  (And, cheers!)

Dream #12: Personified Cheesecake


Someone neatly slices a wedge out of a beautifully presented, shallow, plain cheesecake.  The Pac-Man shaped, almost whole, cheesecake (Big Cheesecake), and the smaller, pie shaped wedge (Little Cheesecake) are placed, together, in a large bowl of water, where they float on the surface.  Once in the water, it becomes evident that both pieces of cheesecake are alive, and have personalities.  Big Cheesecake moves itself, ever so slowly, closer to Little Cheesecake and bumps into the it.  This causes Little Cheesecake to get dunked underneath the water, and the edges of itself start to dissolve.  As every reaction has an equal and opposite reaction, Big Cheesecake ricochets off of Little Cheesecake and ends up on the opposite side of the bowl.  At a snail’s pace, Big Cheesecake again inches closer to Little Cheesecake, dunking him for the second time, and Little Cheesecake shrinks even further.  The cycle repeats, and as Little Cheesecake cannot defend himself, he just gets smaller and smaller, and smaller.  The water begins to turn milky.


I really don’t know what to say about this one, other than it has been haunting me for a couple of weeks.  Let me know if you’ve got an analysis for me.

Grouchy Pants. Or, Grouchy No-Pants.

I didn’t have any problems sleeping when I was younger.  During elementary school, and even middle school, I generally slept through the night, and had dreams only intermittently.  I didn’t start being all sleep-crazy until I started high school. Thank you, hormones.

There was one recurring dream that I can recall from elementary school. I was at the mall, walking down a hallway, by myself.  I hear people shrieking and know that there is a dragon around the corner.  I run to hide, and end up crouching behind a drinking fountain, located in the middle of the hallway.  I peek my head around the edge of the fountain, see the dragon coming down the hallway, in my direction, and quickly swivel my head back around, hoping it doesn’t see me.  It never noticed me, so I thought I would be ok, provided I remain behind the fountain.  It was slightly unnerving while experiencing it, but I do not remember being all that scared about it when I woke up.

As my early years were relatively dream-free, and thus, fatigue-free, I wasn’t always A Morning Grouch.  But, as with all things, there was a day that I recollect as an exception.

The couple who lived next door to us, used to babysit me before school. They had a son my age, and we would squabble  play together often.  I don’t remember too much about the mom, except that she made really, really good chicken curry.  I still think about how good her chicken curry was.  (Sorry mom, for not eating the chicken curry you made me after you found out I liked hers.  I appreciate the effort.  It just wasn’t the same.  Not at all.)  My parents would drop me off next door when they left for work;  I was often carried over, in my pajamas, eyes full of sleep.  I would eat breakfast, get dressed, and hop on the bus from their house.

One winter morning I got dressed, put on my super awesome, bulky, navy blue snow pants, and wrapped a scarf around my neck.  I was very bundled up.  I’m not really sure why I even wore snow pants to school. How dorky?  I mean, I just got on the bus and then walked into the school.  It’s not like I was snowshoeing across the Arctic, through the tundra.  Perhaps they were essential for recess shenanigans.

Anyway, I got to my locker, unwrapped the scarf and slid it on it’s hook, shoved my coat inside.  I went to remove my snow pants…and….uh oh!  I realized I forgot to put on REAL pants underneath!  HOW DO YOU FORGET TO PUT ON PANTS??  There may have been a moment of sweaty panic.

Note:  I know this might sound like a dream/nightmare where you show up to school naked.  But this is for real.  I swear.  (Sidebar:  See husband?  I have always been a little forgetful, even about pesky little things, like pants.  Just an FYI that I will never remember to put the pruning shears away when done, open the window when taking a shower, close the cupboard doors after stacking dishes, and turning off the lights after I leave a room.  At least never all of them, consistently.  Might as well just let it go).

After the brief cortisol surge, I think to myself, “I’ve got this”.  Apparently I used to have an inordinate amount of confidence.  The entire day goes by, and I lie, unconvincingly I’m sure, about just feeling like wearing my snow pants that day.  Uh huh.  You could hear me going to reading….swish…swish…swish, you could hear me going to math…swish…swish…swish…and to recess (which I was super excited about, as it was the only time when swishing was an appropriate noise for your pants to make, and I wasn’t the only odd duck wearing them).

I wasn’t yet at the point yet where I drowned my sorrows in red wine,  so I’m really not sure what I did to relieve the stress from that day.

Heather, The Sleepwalker: A Brief History

If you didn’t read HTS’s intro – check it out here.  Heather slept-walked quite a bit, when she was young.  She says that her family didn’t seem very concerned about it.  Her mom would see her walking around, but since Heather always walked back into her room, her mom knew she was safe, so didn’t see any reason to intervene.   

As a teenager, Heather doesn’t recall sleepwalking, I imagine she thought she had outgrown this behavior.  But, the episodes started again when she was in her mid-twenties.  This was a stressful time, as Heather was going through a divorce.  The sleepwalking didn’t stop though, after the stress of this event abated, and she has continued to sleepwalk ever since.

Heather explains that there are two types of sleepwalking: the kind you can remember and the kind you never remember. Heather’s sleep walking used to be of the latter variety. In her mid- twenties she would have no memory of getting up and walking around at night, but she would know she slept-walked because of the clues she found in the morning.  During this time, the obvious hint was generally the fact that she would go to sleep in her pajamas, but wake up with different clothes on.  Interestingly, the garb she arose in was typically a dress she hadn’t worn in years.  It was not always the same dress.  She never awoke in something convenient or comfortable to put on, but always a dress from the far corners of the closet.

From here, the sleep walking worsened, and it hasn’t gone away.  Sometimes, Heather remembers events from her nighttime amblings in the morning, sometimes her memory is sparked by a clue left behind, and sometimes she has no memory of the nocturnal escapades at all.  This makes it difficult for her to give a weekly average regarding how often she sleepwalks.  Her best guess is at least twice a week, sometimes much more.  She hasn’t found a connection between her sleepwalking and her times of either high or low stress.  The only trigger that she is sure of is when she sleeps somewhere other than her own house.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that she sleepwalks more when she’s sleeping at the new place, but more often than not, she will sleep walk upon returning home.

She’s slept in the same bedroom for 14 years, so Awake Heather knows every nook and cranny, while Sleepwalking Heather is quite often confused about where she is.  She’s found that cracking her curtains for a little light sometimes helps her orientation.  As mentioned above, this is exacerbated after overnight trips.  If she goes on a camping trip, when she returns she may sleep walk, thinking that she is still sleeping in a tent, or that she is fishing for crayfish.  If she sleeps at a friend’s cottage, she might sleep walk and picture herself in one of the cottage rooms.  This always means that the door is in a different place than the door in her actual bedroom.  This stresses her out to no end, and she struggles to find the door (where there is none) in the middle of the night.  Did you get a good mental picture of her banging on a dresser to get out of the room? Because that’s what she does. Sounds funny, but she says it is actually pretty scary. She doesn’t remember that her boyfriend is there, and that she could ask him for help, so she just panics, and sometimes cries, to herself.  

Sleepwalking Heather is often very confused about not only where she is, but also who she is with.  She says it feels like she has temporary amnesia.   One of the most disturbing things for her is waking up and not knowing who she is sleeping next to. She has been with her boyfriend for almost 7 years, but she often has to crawl over him and look at his face, because she is completely confused and disoriented. Once she sees his face she feels a huge amount of relief.  Often times after returning from a trip with her friends, she wakes up and thinks that he is just a good girlfriend of hers.  She says she will be laying there feeling incredibly embarrassed, because she thinks she went to bed with her friend, while naked, or, even worse, she thinks she is spooning with her friend. 

She does note, however, that she has never forgotten about her daughter, and says that she will often check up on her during her late night meanderings.  She admits that her daughter doesn’t always appreciate this, especially when she wakes up to Heather standing on the ladder of her loft, just staring at her. Poor girl.

A special thank you to Heather, for sharing her intriguing stories (and for writing most of this post, which I just tweaked, a bit).

This post is a part of Love Links – hosted by

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