Tuesday, March 27, 2012

PYHO: I'm doing okay.

Ever since "coming out" with my battles with crazy pregnancy-induced anxiety and PPD, I've noticed the following: interweb strangers are incredibly forgiving and kind in their comments, and have sent remarkably nice emails that tell me they're thinking of me and hope I'm getting better (thanks, internet friends!), and 99% of the people who know me in real life don't exactly know how to respond, soooooo what if we just pretend we didn't hear about it at all, mmmkay?

I get it, I do. My PPD post wasn't exactly a light-hearted read. It was rough. It was hard to write, and come to terms with what I had been feeling. It was hard to admit publicly because I don't like looking like a hot, filthy mess. I spewed out a lot of ugly, and it was sad and frustrating and awwwwwwwwwwkward to read. Most people who I know read my blog (::waves::) didn't acknowledge my PPD in any way, and that's okay. Really. I don't begrudge anyone their awkward feelings, and I don't blame them. Hell, if I were on your side of the laptop screen, I don't know what I would have done, or how I would have handled it. And for the handful of people who do know me and have hung out with me and had a few or more beers with me, the outreach and kind words you shared with me will stay with me forever. Knowing that real, tangible people had my back and accepted my very human faults and still didn't call child services means so, so much.

So that's why, today, I'm a-pourin' out my heart (and perhaps a glass of wine) and letting you know that most of the time, I'm doing okay.

Admittedly, there are days that suck a little more than the others. Winter wasn't awesome, but I noticed overall that I was doing pretty well compared to the last few winters. I attribute that to the non-winter we had and the less than 12 inches of snow that fell between December and March. SO not complaining about that. And still, despite that, there were days that made it a little harder to wake up and get out of bed, days that were made for being lazy on the couch, and days that I really needed to force myself to put on clothes that weren't pajamas. (It's like there ceased to be a difference between my "awake" clothes and my "asleep" clothes. Damn you, yoga pants.)

I don't cry anymore. (Well, I cry, but not that awful, ugly, crying-for-no-reason PPD cry. I DO have a soul.) I don't flip out when I drop my shampoo bottle in the shower. I shower. I don't pull the covers over my head when Hannah starts crying at dark o'clock in the morning. (Well, I do, but for a completely different reason.) I don't hear "Bad mommy!" when she cries, and I've returned to some of my old habits that fell away when my anxiety started to eat me alive: singing in the shower, singing in the car, dancing in the car, talking to myself, reading for fun, writing, exercising, and overall self-maintenance that should have been taking place but wasn't.

I have a great doctor who likes to tell me I'm not entirely out of the woods, but I'm pretty damn close. He feels that I am still showing some behaviors that are indicative of depression, not necessarily PPD. It's hard to say. I can't quite tell what's what anymore. I have almost always used humor as a way to deflect criticism, or bring it on. Since PPD, that humor's been a little more cutting, and I haven't exactly let that go, but is it a sign of depression? Or is it a nasty habit I picked up and haven't let go? It's one of a few things I'm working on, but most days, I feel whole. I feel like me again.

I know this because a few weeks ago, even when I was sick and achy and probably should have been sleeping, I was reading. Voraciously, even. I know that I'm feeling complete because I'm singing and dancing in the car on my way to work. Yeah, I'm that girl. I know that I'm okay because when Hannah cries out, my first instinct is to hold her and make it better, not to run and hide because I don't know what to do. I know I'm better because when I play with my daughter, I love it. I love spending time with her, and I love watching her discover the world around her. I love making her laugh, and when I'm not with her, I miss her. I know I'm whole because when I hold my daughter, I know what to do. When she reaches for me, I'm not scared I'm going to do something wrong and end up breaking her in two. I know I'm better because I missed my favorite activities. I know I'm better because my productivity at work has skyrocketed. And I know I'm better because I'm not afraid to talk about it. It's okay to talk about it. I generally don't bring it up because it's one topic of conversation that makes people uncomfortable. But if you're reading this and you want to ask how I'm doing? It's okay to ask about the PPD.

A few weeks ago, someone asked me if I was jealous of women who never had PPD. Am I jealous? Hell yes, I'm jealous! I'm angry I had to go through that. I'm mad that I missed out on a few months I'll never get back because I couldn't see straight. I'm mad that I was going through the motions and didn't take away as much as I should have. I'm pissed off that PPD chose me and not someone else. I'm pissed off at people who didn't experience it because it's not fair. Why was I one of the lucky ones? Why me and my family? Damn right, I'm jealous.

I'm also thankful for PPD, if that makes sense. I know I'm not alone, even though so few women talk about it. I know that it's normal for women to go through it, even though each experience with PPD is different. And I'm thankful because I was able to experience it when Hannah was small and fragile, but young enough that she'll never have any memory of it. She'll never remember me crying, afraid to hold her but afraid to let her go. And I'm thankful that I went through it when she was small and tiny and new and blessedly, blessedly boring. If I were in the middle of that hell now, I know that when it was finally over, I'd be so pissed that I missed out on this time when she's exploring her world and so desperately curious about everything she sees.  And I think that I treasure these moments a little more because of it.

I find myself looking forward to the next few months. I'm excited about visiting with family again, and I'm counting the days until my next 3-day weekend. I'm not jazzed about Mondays, but I'm also not desperately clinging to the covers and waking up at the last possible second because I can't stomach the thought of facing another day. Am I great? Sometimes. Sometimes not. Am I good? I'm damn good. Not everyday, but most of them.

I'm doing okay. Some days I'm great. Some days I'm lazy. On rare occasions, I feel beige. But if you asked me today, I'm going to say I'm okay. Because I am, and I will be.

Book Review Tuesday: Bossypants, by Tina Fey

I've been stuck in memoir-ville for a few weeks. I can't help it. Over the course of the last few years, I've learned that while I love fiction, I really love memoirs. Maybe it's because writing about my own life is something I find enjoyable. (Narcissistic, much?) Maybe it's because memoirs are (usually/typically/in a perfect world) the truth, meaning there's very little anger directed toward the author. If I don't like how a relationship turned out, there's no point ranting and raving and shouting to the sky that someone was allowed to publish such garbage. Why? Because such garbage actually happened (or happened in the author's own mind).

The downfall to reading memoirs is that the author-as-narrator isn't typically your most reliable, trustworthy voice. If they don't want to write about specific life events, they don't have to. They can gloss over what they don't want to remember, and present--as fact--the sequence of events from any moment in their life, and as their loyal audience, I really have no choice but to accept it as fact. The upside to reading memoirs is that I can state without a doubt that I wish an author or speaker (since so many are "as told to") spent more time telling me about [insert topic here]. It's a memoir, not fiction. In fiction, any events relayed to you are typically important to the action of the story. Rarely do authors interject some random drivel for you to read while they fill space in their novel. But in a memoir? Quite the opposite. It can take any direction, really. And I like to spend time asking about Events A, B, and C. I like knowing things.

After reading (and reviewing) Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? I felt like it was necessary to read Bossypants. I'd heard nothing but good things, and even if it received poor reviews, I like Tina Fey. She tickles me. I also like to call her by her full name: Tina Fey. Like it's one word. Tinafey.

I think that Tina Fey (tinafey) did a really nice job balancing out the "before" and "after". The chapters about her childhood, high school, college, and a struggling performer in Chicago in the early 1990s were entertaining. She writes about her dad with reverence, but also acknowledging that her father is one of the old guard, and as such is "impressive", or so says Lorne Michaels.

I liked her style of writing. It wasn't rushed or condescending, and Tinafey points out on more than one occasion that she was a woman in the He-Man Women Haters Club that is the writers room. She is unashamedly feminist and points out on more than one occasion the injustice done to female writers and performers. When she wrote about her Second City years, she made sure to mention that Amy Poehler, in my opinion, one of the funniest women alive today, if not ever, was a background player. She was short, cute, and blond, and often had brief appearances in sketches, consisting of, "Mr. Williams will see you now," and "Would you like some coffee?" and "Here's your coffee." I was furious. Who puts Amy Poehler in the corner? When they approached their director at Second City about a Tina and Amy sketch combo, he said, "No one wants to see a sketch with two women." My jaw? On the floor.

Tinafey combats this injustice by working hard. She doesn't give herself accolades, nor does she bend over backwards to make you see how wonderful she is. She clearly paid her dues.

The SNL stories are some of my favorite. Unlike Mindy Kaling, she doesn't change names or titles, she just tells stories. Her first meeting with Lorne Michaels, her unlikely casting as co-host of Weekend Update (and why she wore the glasses), and yes, the Palin Saga. The whole Palin story is really entertaining to me, actually. And it's told really well. Facts are laid out, and it's properly peppered with Tinafey's thoughts and stream-of-consciousness commentary, which is something I have always loved about her.

My favorite chapter is appropriately titled, A Love Letter to Amy Poehler. It's no secret that Tina Fey and Amy Poehler are friends. They're like George Clooney and Brad Pitt, only stranger and funnier and with more boobs. Tinafey makes no secret of the fact that she was ecstatic that her friend had been cast on SNL. She knew Amy, she liked her, and they had great on-stage chemistry together. In what is easily my favorite part of the whole book, well...just read it for yourself:

“Amy Poehler was new to SNL and we were all crowded into the seventeenth-floor writers’ room, waiting for the Wednesday read-through to start. There were always a lot of noisy ‘comedy bits’ going on in that room. Amy was in the middle of some such nonsense with Seth Meyers across the table, and she did something vulgar as a joke. I can’t remember what it was exactly, except that it was dirty and loud and “unladylike.”
Jimmy Fallon, who was arguably the star of the show at the time, turned to her and in a faux-squeamish voice said, “Stop that! It’s not cute! I don’t like it!”
Amy dropped what she was doing, went black in the eyes for a second, and wheeled around on him. “I don’t fucking care if you like it.” Jimmy was visibly startled. Amy went right back to enjoying her ridiculous bit.”

Some gimme a pen and her address, because now I want to write AP a love letter. The worst insult I ever received was when a guy I knew in college told me he didn't think I was pretty, but that I was cute. It wasn't that I cared so much about my looks or what Random Guy #4 thought of me, it was that he took the time to point it out. I was friends with his girlfriend, and I was meant to fill a supporting role. The cute friend. RAGE.

For the first time, I looked at AP and Tinafey and identified with them. I knew that I could take that moment to them and they'd identify with me, commiserate with me, and turn that shit into comic gold.

After getting to the end of the book, I read a lot that was empowering, in addition to being entertaining. Tinafey gave a lot of really great advice, like this gem: “I suggest you model your strategy after the old Sesame Street film piece “Over! Under! Through!” (snip) If your boss is a jerk, try to find someone above, or around your boss who is not a jerk. If you’re lucky, your workplace will have a neutral proving ground – like the rifle range or the car sales total board or the SNL read-through. If so, focus on that. Again, don’t waste your energy trying to educate or change opinions. Go “Over! Under! Through! And opinions will change organically when you’re the boss. Or they won’t. Who cares? Do your thing and don’t care if they like it.”

If only I had read this before I left my last job.

The one thing I wanted more of? Tinafey wrote a chapter about babies, and I was so looking forward to reading more about her as a mom. Her working mom stories were hilarious and helped reinforce my decision to be a working woman, not just a working mom. The biggest disappointment (for me) came from her baby chapter. It wasn't a story about learning to cope with a baby or living with a baby, or even pregnancy, or thoughts on babies. The baby chapter was basically one long rant about breastfeeding and why moms who don't or can't shouldn't feel bad about it. I get it, Tinafey. I'm on your side. Formula is not the devil incarnate. I just felt that it was a little too soapboxy for the book. It felt so out of place compared to the rest of her story.

By the end of her tenure at SNL, the standard for gender equality had leveled out. Tinafey told a great story about a week in which Mr. Sylvester Stalone was hosting. (I call him Mr. in case he ever reads this and comes to find me and kill me in my garage.) They needed an Adrian for the monologue, and Cheri Oteri (best name ever) was desperate to play the part. Instead, it went to Chris Kattan in drag. I think Kattan in drag is some funny shit, but how is that any better than Cheri Oteri? Tinafey makes sure to mention that such strong, competent, and funny-as-hell women were cast while she worked for SNL, and by the time she left, no one would have thought to cast a man first to fill a female role. Applause, applause, now replace Seth Meyers as head writer.

I really liked this book. A lot. I think Tina Fey is funny to begin with, but I adored having her in my train bag each day. I was struggling so hard to keep from laughing out loud once that my train conductor actually stopped me to ask what I was reading. He said, "You're da furst lady I seen readin' a book dat was cryin' becaus she was laughin'. Normally youse lay-dees read dat Nicholas Sparks junk."

He is now my favorite train conductor.

I couldn't help but notice that Kaling's book was creepily, eerily similar. She even references an "Irish exit" in the same way Tinafey tells a story about an "Irish goodnight". Where Kaling's book felt rushed and almost entitled, Tina Fey's goes a little deeper, because rather than telling stories out of Hollywood and dropping names here and there, she is actually giving advice. Good, practically, and often hilarious advice about working in any industry and not taking crap because you have two boobs stuck on the front of your body.

I really enjoyed Bossypants. So much, in fact, that I'm looking forward to reading it again.

Grade: A solid A.

And for the record, Mr. Second City Director? Sketches with two women are fucking hilarious. Tina and Amy on Weekend Update. Delicious Dish. The Bush Twins.

I suck at life

I was thinking the other day that it had been a long while since I've blogged, or at least, it certainly felt like it. Then I logged in and whaddya know, it's been nearly a month. Pathetic. So much for that "blog more" resolution, eh?

The good news is that I do believe I will have more free time to blog between now and the fall. Summer in the office is always slow, and now that our Big, Major, Expensive Event is over, my hours at work are much more manageable. I've even found that the piles I'm leaving on my desk at the end of the day are smaller than when they began.

I have a feeling that the time period between now and late May will be an interesting one. On one hand, things at work will be relatively slow, but they'll pick up here and there. June will undoubtedly be a crazy hectic month for us at work, especially based on some news I received the other day. (I'm being intentionally vague on purpose, yo.) Then July and August will most likely be blissfully slow. I'll finally have time to catch up on projects that have been building throughout the year, and I'll be able to dedicate significant chunks of time to database cleanup. Does that sound boring and monotonous? It is! But more than that, it's self-paced and won't require copious amounts of time stuck here in the office. If we get the database integration completed, I might even be able to do parts of it from home. Mini squee!

Other than that....I probably owe you a Hannah update, huh? Look for that later this week.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

February Resolution Roundup

It's the first day of March. Time to look back at the last 29 days and see how I fared.

1. Being Healthier.

I'm doing my best here, I really am. I haven't done my DVD in a few days because we've been extremely busy going in and out of town, but I'm determined to get back on the wagon....after the weekend. I need to do this almost daily for a month, I think, for it to be a habit that sticks.

I've been doing my best to eat healthier, but the triple-layer enchilada casserole I made last night, while delicious, isn't doing anything for the number on the scale.

2. Reading more.

I'm still working on this. I am nearly done with Bossypants. I don't have the time to read when I don't take the train in to work, but I have a stack of books that is steadily climbing. I feel like I need to force myself to sit down and read while Hannah's napping instead trying to do other things, like laundry or dishes.

3. Blog more.

Blogging has taken a back seat over the last few days. It didn't feel right to post about pointless things when my friend LOG was (and still is) grieving her mother. I am very back-logged on pics, so maybe sometime next week I'll get them loaded off the camera and do a recap post.

4. Save more.

Still working on it.

5. Simplify.

Success! When I decorated for Valentine's Day, I found some small, useless pieces of junk that had been sitting in that box since we moved. I almost threw them out then, but Graham asked me not to. This time, I think we're both okay with purging our home of some of these things. We're not getting a ton of tangible space back just yet, but if we can successfully remove a box or two from "that closet", we'll be successful. My January bags were dropped off at church, and my 2 February bags are ready to go: one to church, and one to Goodwill.

6. Follow through.

This one, again, is a little harder. I'm doing better at finishing a project when I start it, but the past 2 weeks have been quite busy, both at home and at work. Yesterday, I'm proud to say that I cleared my desk at work of a giant stack of reports that had been sitting there for quite some time. They're back to being filed away, and they're even in the proper order for easy access when we need them this summer. I have some corresponding paperwork that needs to go with the reports, but that involves a glass of wine, Top Chef, and a night in front of the TV, spread out on the couch and living room floor.

7. Recipes.

Still working on it. Again, I don't have a tremendous amount of time to blog in the evenings. I need to start sitting down on a Sunday night and just setting up post after post to broadcast automatically and not just when I press the "Publish" button.

8. Less swearing, more church.

We skipped church on Sunday because I chose to worship God from the comfort of my bed. We did attend the week before that. This coming Sunday is a wait-and-see event.