March 25, 2011

Flashback Friday: And speaking of freaking out

I wrote this blog post in November of 2009.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) can be funny. I admit it. Who doesn't think a syrup phobia is the funniest thing since toaster waffles?* The television show Monk totally captures the humorous side of OCD. Monk is a private detective and consultant for the police department whose OCD both severely limits his life and helps him solve cases. His nonsensical, anal-retentive behaviors get on everyone's nerves, but they also come in handy. (Click on the link above to watch episodes of the show online.)

My own OCD rituals don't enable me to solve crimes, but I like to think they keep us safer and a little more organized. Sure, it's not necessary to check to make sure the windows are locked 4 or 5 times while saying, "This window is shut, locked, and secured, and it's going to stay shut, locked, and secured" each time. I'm sure once--without the narration-- would do the trick. But at least we know we're never in danger from an unlocked window (or door, or stove left on, or...) And perhaps it's not essential to balance my checkbook three (count them, three) times before accepting that the number I came up with might just be correct. But I don't bounce any checks.

At least these current rituals accomplish something. I much prefer them to the ones I had in college. Back then I had to check the seams on my clothes every day. There was no deep, meaningful purpose to that ritual. I was just afraid of being seen in public with a hole in my shirt. I also couldn't have six words to a line when writing college papers (because six was a "bad" number"). I'd actually change the sentence to make it more or less than six words. Oh, and there was my annoying scissor phobia. Yes, I'm probably the only person with two working hands who managed to get through college without using a pair of scissors. I tore paper instead. (Good thing I changed my major from elementary education!) Admittedly funny.

Closely related to the scissor phobia was my fear of someone cutting my hair off. I had long, (bottle) blonde, curly hair--and for a time, I worried that someone would do something to my hair that would necessitate a drastic haircut, or that someone would just reach over and cut it off when my back was turned. I believe the clinical term for that is "hairanoia." (Har har har.) I even recruited my friends to check my hair for me. The funny part about this is that they did it. (Thanks guys!) Ironically, the "cure" for this fear was to...cut my hair short. Huh.

Closely related to that fear was my obsessive concern that my eyelashes weren't even. People, I am embarrassed to admit that I rear-ended someone (in a brand new car, of course) when I was 20 because I was making sure my eyelashes were even in the rearview mirror. In rush hour traffic. Yeah, that's funny. I ain't gonna lie.

My obsessions and compulsions are humorous to me NOW because they're under control. In college I wouldn't have laughed. Back before SSRIs (bless them), I was spending up to 4 hours a day doing my OCD rituals. It felt like torture. It was like my brain was betraying me. I, like other people with OCD, knew the obsessions and compulsions were illogical. People with OCD do the rituals not because we think we're actually achieving something/solving the problem, but because it's the only thing that relieves the overwhelming anxiety caused by the obsessive thoughts. Not doing the ritual leads to more anxiety than the obsessive thought itself causes. And the relief is only temporary. That's why the rituals are repeated over and over. The cycle goes like this:

obsessive thought--->overwhelming anxiety--->corresponding ritual--->relief--->obsessive thought, etc.

One benefit to having OCD is that I am pretty tolerant of other people's eccentricities. Still sleep with a blankie at 35? No problem! Wear kilts instead of pants 7 days a week? So what! Afraid of little people? Pshaw. Have several personalities? Big deal. (See, you just gotta look for that silver lining.)

Well, I'm off to bed! After I lock up, that is...

*In college, I briefly dated a guy who had OCD and yep--a syrup phobia.

March 22, 2011

Sets, and props, and callings! Oh my!

My son Nature Boy periodically moonlights as Drama Boy.  Musical theater, specifically.  He likes to sing and make people laugh.  He's still an unapologetic lover of pretend at 11 years old, so drama is a perfect fit.  He doesn't particularly like hair and makeup (or wearing tights), but the praise from the audience makes it worth the torture.

Prince Charming

I was a drama kid too. I loved doing musicals, but I had performance anxiety. (I feel you, Barbra Streisand!)  I didn't mind people hearing me, but I didn't want them to look at me.   I still feel that way.  I'm not afraid of messing up--it's more a self-consciousness about being a visible center of attention.  (Which is a little weird since I'm all for being the verbal center of attention.)

Old Hobo Joe

Fortunately, my son doesn't share my stage fright.  He loves performing.  It's a great outlet for his creativity, and as all drama geeks know, it's a place to fit in in a world of spelling bee champs and star athletes.  I'm happy he found drama, but I am far from a stage mom.  No pressure from me.  Hobbies are supposed to be fun, and kids are under enough pressure as it is.

Seriously, this kind of stuff is much more our speed.

P.S. That is NOT me with the wedgie.

And speaking of pressure, I was recently asked to coordinate the set design for Nature Boy's current show.  And when I say "asked" I mean it was proclaimed that God Himself was calling me to do this.  When I replied that I have no experience with set design, I was told in a sweet southern way that, "God doesn't call the equipped.  He equips the called."  Yeah.

***Neurotic Moment***
Have I mentioned that I homeschool my son, co-teach two co-op classes, and take care of my grandmother who has lung cancer and congestive heart failure (among other things)?  And we just moved into a new house two months ago.  Not to mention (okay, to mention) my own health challenges.  Man, having it all here in one paragraph is wearing me out.  How am I going to do all of this?!  What if I just spontaneously combust?!!!!!  My eyelid is twitching now.  Is that a sign of some serious illness?  Because I don't have time for that, y'all.  Deep breath. 
***Return to (Relative) Sanity***

Squirrel/The King
So when asked to head up set design I ran away screaming happily answered my call with a yes.  Then I immediately checked with the library for a book along the lines of Set Design for Dummies.  No such luck.  And after that, I freaked out a little.  I don't enjoy going into a project without knowing what I'm getting into.  And truth be told, I don't feel particularly called to do this.  Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't discernment of a calling the responsibility of the person being called?  I mean, I'm Catholic, so I'm not up on all this calling stuff.  We do stuff out of guilt, plain and simple.

March 16, 2011

I'm fat.

There's nothing like reconnecting with childhood friends to remind a girl just how fat she really is.  Facebook is full-on exposure therapy, what with all the tagged photos from high school popping up like little boils on your already fragile self-esteem.  You were all safe in your chubby cocoon and then along comes photo-uploading Sally Sunshine from high school.  Suddenly you're outed.  You'd think you purposely misled the people who've only known you as a fat person.  They see the photos and say adorable things like, "You were so skinny back then!"  Or, "Wow, you looked great!"  Or, "Man, you look so different!" 

Yeah, shut up.

I was born skinny.  Six pounds and some change.  Then came the "average" years.  All five of them.  My shame about being chubby started early.  I remember lying about my weight as far back as the fourth grade.  Back then, schools did yearly weight checks.  I didn't want any of my fellow students to know my weight, so I asked the nurse to whisper it in my ear and I'd pass it along to the person recording the weights.  I weighed 106, but told the weight-recorder I weighed 86.  (Is it weird that I still remember my fourth grade weight?)

I was athletic as a kid.  I played soccer and like every other child of the 80s, ran around outside until supper time.  But sugar was always my weakness.  I remember sneaking desserts and even stealing them from other kids' lunches when I was in elementary school.  (Damn you, Little Debbie!)  My mom was anorexic, though I didn't know it until I became an adult.  I think she struggled with my fatness.  My body was so different from hers.  I'm built like my dad's side.  Short and muscular and prone to Buddha bellies.  

In middle school and high school I was even more active.  I played basketball, lifted weights, and threw the shot put.  No more sneaking or stealing food.  My grandma made great balanced meals and I ate reasonable amounts.  But I was still chubby.  At my most active, I was a size 14.  I was healthy and naturally curvy.  There was no shortage of interested boys.  But I still felt so much shame about my body.

College was when it got out of control.  The only exercise I had was dancing at clubs once a week.  Late night Taco Bell runs, dorm life with snacking at all hours, and three meals a day of all-you-can-eat-buffets in the campus cafeteria added up.  Choosing my own food didn't work out so well.  I put on 35 pounds.

I was a size 20 when Tree Guy and I got married.  That was a size or so out of my comfort zone, but I didn't try to lose weight because I'd heard about the failure rates of diets.  And I was afraid to fail.  As long as I kept telling myself, I'm fat because I haven't tried to lose weight, I could operate under the illusion that someday, when I wanted to, I could get my weight under control.  

My early adult years brought autoimmunity.  Autoimmunity often means steroids.  And steroids almost always mean extra weight.  I've been on high doses of steroids for months at a time three times in my life.  Each time I gained 35-45 pounds (along with acne, mood swings, the sweats, and the random chin hair).  Prednisone sucks(!), but sometimes it's all that works to bring an autoimmune flare under control.  My doctors told me not to worry--that steroid weight just naturally comes off after you're off the drug. 

Yeah, right. 
"moon face"

In my experience, it comes off (mostly) in a few years (with effort).  With all the side effects of steroids (did I mention "moon face"?), doctors have to lie to get you to take them!  At least the rest of the side effects go away.  For the most part.  (I heart you, Tweezers!)

I've lost about half of my most recent (ahem!, 2006) steroid weight gain with a combination of Weight Watchers and nutrient malabsorption from Crohn's disease.  I've still got 25 pounds to lose just to get back to Comfortably Fat.  I am in solid Uncomfortably Fat territory right now.      

One of the benefits of moving away from your hometown is that you can change and it's not that shocking.  You meet people along the way who only know you as you are now--they don't compare you to who you used to be.  You can be bookish and no longer enjoy crowds.  You can be tattooed and free-spirited.  And you can be fat.  It's freeing, really.  

But there are old friends worth reconnecting with.  My 20 year high school reunion is coming up.  (Yikes!)  I'm proud of the person I've become, and even prouder of my family.  Being fat gets in the way too much as it is (grandma swimsuits, airplane seat belts)--I don't want to let it keep me from the fun. 

So I'm just going to step out from behind the muumuu and proclaim to the world that I'm fat.  (Not that I wear muumuus.)  (But if you do that's okay.)  (If it's good enough for Debra Messing...) (Because there's nothing wrong with wearing what makes you feel comfortable.)  (I'm more of a stretchy jeans and tee girl myself.) (My mom isn't fat and she wears a caftan.)  (I think that's fancy-speak for muumuu.)  (Don't tell her I said that.)  

March 08, 2011

Doo Doo Bombs R Us

Reading this post tonight got me thinking.  There really should be an organization where abused/overworked/underpaid/disrespected women can go and schedule an undercover dog poop bombing of the offender's house for a nominal fee.  (Or, as in days of olde, women could work out a barter system.  You poop bomb my ex and I'll poop bomb yours.)  That way no one will be recognized by the Turd Target.  (A clarification:  No lighting the packages o' poo on fire, or you might end up like this guy.)

Although I personally don't need the services of a company like EXcrement Enterprises, I'd love to work pro bono on behalf of Shrinky Dink and other wronged women in town.  (Though I'd definitely outsource the actual poop scooping.  My altruism has limits.)  Added bonus:  We'd be cleaning up our yards AND recycling (the poop), so we could feel good about our "greenness".

We'd use (recycled) paper lunch bags because they are likely to break when they hit their targets.  And to add a feminine touch, we could wrap pretty (organic) ribbons around the bags.  We could hold Saturday training sessions on Stealth, Ribbon Tying, How To Keep a Secret, and Strengthening the Throwing Arm.

Who's with me!?

Click to enlarge.

March 02, 2011

The one in which I should be preparing for my class tomorrow, but I'm not.

So.  I have a science class about gravity to teach tomorrow at our homeschool co-op, but am I pouring over my notes diligently in preparation?  Nope.  Furthermore, do I actually HAVE notes about class tomorrow?  Nyet.  Does pondering this fact give me pause?  Naw.  It'll be great.  It always is.  Kids like my sense of humor, see, so if I forget say, the equation that represents the Law of Gravitation, I can just make a joke and no one's the wiser. 

Unless my fellow co-op moms are reading this right now, in which case they might stage a Homeschool Co-op Mom Intervention.  Which wouldn't be pretty.  I can see it now.

But seriously, what the hell is the Law of Gravitation and does it really need to be expressed as an equation?  Shouldn't the point for elementary and middle school kids be to make science topics LESS abstract?  Why, back in the olden days when I was in school, science was science and math was math.  School subjects stuck to their own kind.

Wait, I just looked it up remembered!  The Law of Gravitation represented as an equation looks like this:

F = G X  m1 x m2

For you see, the Law says that the gravitational force between objects is proportional to the product of their masses and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them.  So naturally, it stands to reason that F = G X WTH3 X HUH?

Gravity is some powerful stuff.  In fact, I am feeling the gravitational pull of chocolate right--this-----minute!  Can't....hold....ON!

Ah, experiential learning.