Archive for November, 2008

All right.  I’ve tried to avoid gushing over Twilight.  I realize (strange as it seems to me) that not everyone on the planet is Twilight-obsessed or musing over how quickly they’ve gone from thinking RPattz was a horrible choice for Edward to seriously considering taking up a new career as an RPattz stalker.  So I’ve tried.  But…

Today, though, in honor of the movie’s opening (no, I did not go to the midnight showing; I’m obsessed, not completely self-destructive, though it was a very close thing), I’m indulging my addiction.  So feel free to skim, or skip entirely.

I thought I’d at least strive for sanity, though, so what I’m actually going to do is attempt to answer the question I keep getting asked by non-TwiHards:  What exactly is it that is so darned great about this book?!?

I don’t read romance novels. I also don’t read vampire novels.  I had my fling with Anne Rice in the 90s, but even then I was all about the Mayfair Witches and Lestat never really did it for me.  Blood ooks me out and despite my adoration of black (I mean, it goes with everything!) I am not remotely emo, and vampire novels usually are.  And I don’t, often, read young adult novels.  So, Twilight’s 0-for-3 right out of the dugout.  Right?

Wrong.  Yeah, I resisted horribly on all the above counts, but ED eventually wore me down and I caved in.  And was hooked.

What hooked me?  This line:  “It would be more…prudent for you not to be my friend.  But I’m tired of trying to stay away from you, Bella.”

While I normally avoid melodramatic overly-intense romantic nonsense, I have to say there is something about Edward Cullen (as brought to life by Stephenie Meyer’s shocking talent) that just sings to me the way Bella’s blood sings to him.  Through Bella Swan’s eyes, I was taken back to those high-school days when love was the Holy Grail and every halfway-sentient teenage boy was a potential White Knight, waiting to save me from a lifetime of dull mediocrity.  Every glance, every touch, every word casually spoken to a friend was analyzed, dissected and critiqued, pulled apart into its component bits to determine if this was It…if he was The One.  (Of course, he was never The One.  He was always just a Teenage Boy, and therefore usually A Jerk.)

But that’s where Twilight hits it out of the park, to continue our baseball analogy.  Because Edward Cullen is Not Just A Teenage Boy.  Edward Cullen is poised…confident…assured…graceful…articulate to the point of eloquence…intelligent…amusing…chivalrous.  Oh, yes, and inhumanly beautiful.  (You know, that really is sort of an afterthought.)  He’s the perfect guy.  Yeah, he’s sort of A Jerk at first – but honestly, that can be excused, because he was only being A Jerk to avoid ripping Bella’s throat out in his all-consuming lust for her blood – which, did I mention, sings to him?  Sings.  Wow.  I mean…I have to say, some inhumanly beautiful guy tells me my blood sings to him – yeah, I’m probably baring my throat so he can rip it out right there.  Who talks like that?

No one.  So does that make the book melodramatic, ridiculous and puerile?  Surprisingly, no.  It makes perfect sense to us – it’s the way the world should go.  Because we’re seeing this through the eyes of a 17-year-old girl – but no ordinary 17-year-old girl.  Bella Swan is adult for her years.  Sure, she’s got moments of complete teenage idiocy, but then she is a teenager so that’s to be expected.  What surprises is the fact that she has many more moments of lucidity, clarity and rationality that frankly, I haven’t witnessed in a lot of teenage girls lately.  (Or adults, for that matter.)  She doesn’t giggle.  She doesn’t gossip.  She doesn’t change clothes fifteen times in the morning to find that perfect outfit to catch Edward’s eye.  She doesn’t bat her eyes or sigh or talk in a Valley-Girl lilt.  She drives a battered, beat-up 50’s Chevy pickup which she adores.  She wears chunky, hideous sweaters and sweatshirts, and pajamas with holes in them, and she never wears makeup.  (Despite the many reviews of the movie which state that Bella is a “little emo” and “wears too much black eyeliner”.  Maybe in the movie, I dunno.  Not in the book.)  She does her homework, and she reads Austen and Shakespeare for fun, though she hates Calculus.  (God, we have so much in common!)  She makes dinner for her Dad every night.  She worries about her flighty, scatterbrained mom, whom she’s mothered for most of her own life.  She does the grocery shopping.  And she doubts herself, thinking there’s no way someone as beautiful as Edward Cullen could possibly be interested in her.  But she doesn’t hate herself.  She doesn’t worry about her hips being too chunky or her chest too flat – she just thinks she’s too ordinary.

Bella is an old soul.  She’s mature.  She’s no-nonsense.  She’s ethical.  She’s selfless.  She puts everyone else in the world ahead of herself, to the point of physical danger, and doesn’t understand why anyone would think it should be any other way.  She keeps Edward’s secret, once she figures it out, not because she’s afraid of him or because she’s in love with him, but simply because it’s his secret.  Because it’s the right thing to do.  And again, she is surprised that he would think it would be any other way.  And she decides it doesn’t matter what he is.  She loves him, regardless.  At 17, she’s grasped the concept of deciding whether something is a deal-breaker, and if it’s not, learning to accept it and love the person regardless.  Sure, it causes her moments of stress and confusion, but she does it anyway.

In short?  She’s us.  Whether we are 17, 25, 40, or 60…she’s us.  Whether we are married, single, divorced, widowed…she’s us.  As we are, and as we’d like to be.  Somehow, Stephenie Meyer has found some way to make this character real and likeable, yet still malleable enough that we can fill in the blanks with our own thoughts, feelings and desires.  And then she takes it a step further, and makes Bella us – only a little bit better.  (But a bit self-destructive sometimes, and that does worry me a bit.  But it’s a great conversation starting-point with my daughters, about what might be better ways, in real life, of handling some of the feelings Bella experiences.  Because vampires or no vampires, heartbreak is a part of life.)

Bella’s a better person than I am in some ways, more ethical, more rational, more controlled.   For instance, I’d want to tell Edward’s secret.  I don’t think I would, if I loved him the way Bella does, but I’d want to.  I’d be bursting to tell my friends that the reason he’s exquisite, aloof, unique and never comes to school when the sun is out, is because he’s a vampire.

But wait!  He’s a good vampire.  Yes, in his own words, he’s a monster.  But he doesn’t want to be.  He, and his family, are unusual in the Vampire Community, because they choose not to take human life to sustain themselves.  They stick to animals – and not even the cute little helpless ones.  They take down the predators.  They like a (sort of) fair fight.  And even though Bella is, in his words, exactly his brand of heroin (remember, her blood sings for him), he chooses not to take her life, even before he falls head-over-heels in love.  He leaves his family and his home, voluntarily exiles himself, to prevent himself from taking the life of a solitary 17-year-old girl he doesn’t even know, and who not many people in Forks, Washington, would even miss.  She’s new, after all, and a bit of a loner.  (Though some of the boys would be devastated.)  But Edward is just that damned good.

So I guess it’s a combination of things. First, Stephenie Meyer takes us back to that passionate, effervescent time when everything hurt a thousand times more and felt a thousand times as good…when life was all bright colors and dramatic words…when it seemed that we couldn’t possibly survive the heartbreak or the ecstasy of love…and when we had no control over our lives and were completely subject to the whims of the adults around us.  And then, she puts us in the driver’s seat.  Bella’s got way more control than any of us ever did.  And remember, when we were teenagers, life wasn’t all that exciting.  Not so for Bella.  Her life is a mile-a-minute ride on the Roller Coaster of Dangerous Unpredictability, once she sets foot in Forks.  And that’s extra-cool, because before that, she was just as dull and ordinary as any of us.

Secondly, there’s a fascination with the determination of the Cullens to be good.  Carlisle, the patriarch, is a religious man, beautiful and courteous and thoughtful and gentle.  He has never taken a human life to feed (the exceptions are those he transformed, but they were at the verge of death already, so he didn’t take lives that weren’t already being lost) in all his several hundred years as a vampire, conquering even the first all-consuming thirst in his refusal to be evil.  He is so good, that he has developed an iron control over his thirst so that he can actually work as a doctor, to save the lives of the humans that his less-principled brethren view as nothing more than meat.  The rest of the Cullens follow him, not only out of a belief that he is right, but out of overwhelming love and respect.  And how many families can you say that about?

Third, the characters are so charming.  Even the ones we hate – the evil James, Victoria and Laurent, the sour-grapes bitchy Rosalie, even (eventually) the vampire-Mafia Volturi – are captivating.  My personal favorite is Alice, a beautiful, tiny spiky-haired pixie girl that effortlessly charms the heart right out of your chest with her quirky ways, her tinkling laughter, and her eerie ability to predict the future.  I sigh over Jasper, who fights constantly with the thirst (he’s newest to the vegetarian life) but refuses to give in, for sheer love of  Alice.  I giggle at Emmett, the bear-like jock of the Cullen clan, whose unflagging enthusiasm for a fight and rough humor remind me somewhat of my own older brothers.  I worship from afar at the feet of Esme, the ever-gentle and loving mother-figure with endless patience and consuming love for her family – and instant acceptance of Bella, because Edward loves her.  I even feel a sad kinship with Rosalie, the even-more-inhumanly-beautiful-than-anyone-else Bella-hater, who suffers daily with this life she would never have chosen, and which has denied her the things she wants more than anything.  (But oh, the revenge she took for that – which, more than anything, convinces me that I’ve got more in common with her than with anyone.  Cause I’d have slaughtered the bastards, too.  And laughed while I did it.)

And then there’s sweet Jacob Black, the “normal” guy who loves Bella but was just that much too late to ever have her, and whose life is turned inside out because of things he can’t control.  I don’t want to love him, but I can’t help it.  He’s so good.

It’s ironic that Meyer paints her supernatural characters so vividly, when the “real humans” in the story are actually sort of insipid and pale.  But then, we are seeing them, as everything, through Bella’s eyes – and once she’s met the Cullens, the rest of the world does seem pale and insipid.  Once she’s met the Cullens, there is no going back for her, ever.

And then there’s the plot.  Yeah, there actually is one, as if you need it after the sheer surfeit of emotion.  I was shocked too.  Each book in the series has its own self-contained crisis, and where another author might have struggled with preventing a formulaic feel, Meyer manages to make recurrent issues new each time, and use each one to give us an ever-clearer and more realistic picture of the wider Vampire World.  By Breaking Dawn, we get a real sense that there’s a whole other world out there where Bella and Edward will exist long after they’ve left the fringes of our consciousness.

I even love the way Meyer explains Bella’s recurring descents into life-threatening danger.  As Bella tells Edward when he complains that she’s a danger-magnet, and he’s having a hard time keeping her alive, “Did you ever think that maybe my number was up the first time [you saved me], with the van, and that you’ve been interfering with fate?”  (Twilight, Chapter 8, p.174).  To which Edward responds, “Your number was up the first time I met you.”  (Twilight, Chapter 8, p.175).  Melodramatic?  Sure.  But in the context of the world Meyer has created, it makes sense.

The icing on the cake – and an essential ingredient, for me – is that it is well-written.  Meyer has a facility with words and an instinctive understanding of the lyrical quality of the language that makes the book a pleasure to read.  I’ve become hyper-critical since I started actually learning about writing, about how to write well, and it’s very difficult for me to read nine-tenths of the books currently on the market.  Plotting and characterization aside, all too often they are simply badly written in the sense of word-flow.  Too often, it’s physically painful for me to wade through the words to find the sense of what I’m reading.  That is not the case here.  Despite the fact that I was reading it under duress, and therefore was determined to hate it, I enjoyed it from the first paragraph.  I was drawn in despite my reluctance, and I haven’t managed to escape yet.

So that’s my little self-indulgent justification for my addiction.  I suppose you could use Edward’s analogy; Twilight is exactly my brand of heroin.


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I’ve had some concerns expressed about whether I’ve been curled up in a corner somewhere, mired in depression, since it’s been so long since I posted.  🙂  I laughed because (a) it was sweet, and nice to know someone was worried about me; and (b) it’s such a very possible scenario.  But I haven’t been.  I just don’t want to talk about anything but Twilight and I know everyone’s sick of hearing about it haven’t had a lot to say.  That response, however, prompted some concerns about bodysnatchers and pod-people.  So here goes, and not a word about Twilight.  Oops.

Things have been all right.  I have been working out steadily this week; not burning any barns, but doing well.  Eating has been good, not perfect, but good.  I’m trying to be sensible and clean without pushing myself farther than I’m capable of sustaining.  Right now my energy levels are unpredictable and my moods are as well (hello, winter!  we got our first real snow this week, too) so I am being cautious and taking one day at a time.  But I’ve been pleased with how things are going.  I’m not thinking much about the scale as it’s really not what’s important at the moment.  Just trying to keep myself on an even keel is the real area of focus.

I had an epiphany the other night…morning, really.  I had this odd dream** and woke up at about 2 a.m. to a realization.  Well…not a realization as such.  But…sometimes, things will appear to me in a new light that doesn’t really show me anything I don’t know, it just makes it easier to understand what I was having trouble processing.  A new perspective, I guess.

I was reminded that the weight on my soul is the weight of layers of accumulated grime, that I have allowed to accumulate.  I am not obligated to bear those layers.  I can choose to remove them through actions and behaviors and thought processes of my own.  I came to some hard realizations about what has been bothering me, and a renewed understanding of my own tendency to find reasons why my misery is someone else’s fault.  I despise that tendency in myself (and others!).  I’ve struggled with it all my life and, while I am so much better at controlling it than I used to be, sometimes I do (like everyone else) slip into old behaviors.  And – what a surprise – those seem to be the times when the depression and anxiety rear their ugly heads!  So which comes first?

For me, I think it comes down to a certain fatigue and malaise inspired by stress, weather, and diminishing natural light.  In response to that fatigue, I feel less inclined to do the hard things – like work to be the best person I can.  So my mind slips into well-worn paths, such as the ones that lead me to blame every bad thing in my life on someone else.  That feels easier, because I did it for so many years.  But in the end, the effect it has is to make me feel that my life is not under my control – to feel helpless and ineffectual and (by association) worthless and stupid and…insert litany here.  It perpetuates the cycle of self-loathing that held me down for so many years, and not only made me miserable, but caused me to make a lot of other people miserable too.

But I have chosen not to be that person anymore.  And when I woke up the other morning with this light bulb moment, it was exactly that – I do have the right, and the ability, to choose who I will be, and how I will respond to everything in my life.  No, it isn’t the easy path – but if walked carefully, one step and one day and one decision at a time, it is the path that strips away those layers of unhappiness and resentment and anger that are weighing down my soul.

The truly beautiful part of the epiphany – and I am sharing this because it was so lovely to feel that I can’t help but gush about it a bit, and because I want it in writing so I can refer back to it later – was the vision of my soul as a beautiful thing, a lovely, weightless, shining thing, under all the layers.  Not stained, not torn, not broken or heavy and ugly, the way I’ve been feeling.  That’s not my soul; that’s just all the crap I’ve allowed to build up on it.  The soul itself?  Beautiful and free.

I don’t have a natural, built-in tendency to like myself.  So to feel that way about myself – for what is my soul, ultimately, if not my self? – was slightly wonderful.  I didn’t have to lead myself to that moment of self-love – it was there, just waiting for me to be clear-headed enough to feel it.  Wow.  Just wow.

It’s hard to explain, but it was just sort of like coming to the surface after being submerged for days in muck.  I suddenly was able to understand that I don’t have to feel that way.  Am I suddenly happy and perky and bouncing around all over the world?  No.  Let’s not be completely ridiculous.  But I am calm.  I am…sort of at peace.  I’m also not fighting the “why can’t I get past this” and “what’s wrong with me” and “God, I thought I was beyond feeling this way” that I’d been struggling with.  I know what steps I need to take – what actions, and inactions, of mine have been contributing to these feelings, and what I can do to ameliorate them.  I know that I will still be dealing with these issues, probably at least for the rest of the winter – but I also know I can deal with them.  And I know that, while I’m not “past” these problems – I’ve made progress.  I’m not right back at square one.  I’ve learned; I’ve grown; I’ve changed.  Not to perfection, but better than I was, at least.

In the end, taking responsibility is hard, but it’s also very freeing.  Because it sucks to admit to myself that yeah, my unhappiness is mostly as a result of decisions I’ve made – but it also means that I have the power to change it.  I am completely not at the mercy of my environment.

As for the chemical part of the equation – no, that’s not something I’ve caused to happen.  It isn’t something I can fix with behaviors.  I can improve it, and I am doing some things I know I need to make that happen, but ultimately there’s a certain inevitability about it.  And yes, it is possible that I may need to look at medication again.  I’m not fighting against that realization, either.  I’m just suddenly very calm about the whole process.  I’ll do what I need to do.  If that involves medication, then so be it.  If there is weight gain involved (probably one of the main reasons I’d like to avoid medication if I can), I will not like it, but I will deal with that as well.  But for now, I’m okay.  I feel at least moderately in control again, and that is a very peace-bringing sensation for me.

And I can’t change the things that other people are doing that are creating some of the stress for me.  That isn’t going to stop because I’ve chosen to be more adult and responsible and self-aware.  I realize that.  But I can change how I react to it, and that’s what I’m doing.  I do not have to be miserable and unhappy because of others’ actions.  I have the ability to supplant that reaction in myself with more positive and beneficial ones, and I am going to.

I also have a list of reasons why I’m going to put forth the effort to do all this.  There are a number of things on that list, and my husband and children are pretty darned high up there.  But the number one reason?  I keep coming back to that vision of a bright, shining, beautiful soul floating free.  It deserves that.  Which translates to “I deserve that”.

When you wake up at 2 a.m. feeling something, generally that’s a feeling you’ve been suppressing, but that’s been fighting to get free.  I’m really excited that, this time at least, it was a good feeling.  It turns out, evidently I don’t hate myself after all.  Cool.

So there’s my update…that’s where I am…and I hope that everyone out there has a wonderful day.  Oh, and in case you’re wondering?  You know, since it’s Thursday and all?  Yes, I am very thankful for this epiphany.  🙂


*I’m going to start using song title for all my blog posts.  Nothing like getting some 80’s music running through the heads of my poor unwitting readers…

**I think I’m going to start a dream interpretation blog.  I looked up the meaning of some of the things in this dream and was stunned at how well it fit with the whole epiphany I had after I woke up.  Fairly interesting, but probably only to me.  🙂

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People Are People…

…Depeche Mode, anyone?

I had an interesting, thought-provoking experience yesterday.  (Okay, all experiences are thought-provoking for me, but many tend to be random thoughts that don’t make a lot of sense.  I’ll leave it to you to decide if this one falls into that category after you read the post.)

I was sitting at a stop light at lunch, watching passersby while waiting for the light to change, and noticed a woman approaching from a few blocks away.  At that distance, and at first glance, my automatic thought was, “Wow, she’s gorgeous.”  Long, blond hair, tall, nice figure, nicely dressed, etc.  My first impression was sort of Claudia Schiffer-gorgeous.  I was frankly intimidated.  🙂

Then, as she drew closer, I was able to see more detail, and I suffered a bit of a disappointing shock.  She wasn’t gorgeous.  She was…ordinary.  Nice enough looking, but nothing special.  I thought, “Oh.  She’s not really all that gorgeous.  She’s just…”

Just what? Just…a person.  Like all the other people walking around.  It was just something in the lines of her clothing and her hair and whatever that had initially made me reach a conclusion, which later turned out to be erroneous.  Don’t get me wrong.  She wasn’t ugly, at all.  She just wasn’t what I had thought she was, at first.

Anyway, to quote Bella Swan, I think I experienced an epiphany then.  Because I realized how unfair it was of me to reach a conclusion about her based on a first glance, and then be disappointed when she didn’t fit my assumptions.  But then, isn’t that what we always do?

One of the most prevalent complaints of overweight people is that we are judged by our size.  People see us and assume that we are…take your pick; lazy, undisciplined, self-indulgent, depressed, unhappy, hostile, unclean, disgusting…it gets worse from there, but I’m sure you get the idea.  They make assumptions based on our outward appearance, and that’s extremely unfair and hurtful.

But we all do it, don’t we?  When we encounter someone for the first time, we look for cues to tell us how we should feel about this person, and how to react.  A million different things go into the decision, and they’re different for everyone.  It may be hair color, eye color, skin color, height, weight, type of clothing, facial hair or the lack thereof, piercings, accessories, what book they’re reading, whether they’re talking into a cell phone, what car they’re driving…there’s an endless list, and some are bigger “clues” to me than they are to you, and vice versa.  But we do it.  It doesn’t make it fair, but it is a reality.

We do it for a very real, and very legitimate, reason.  It’s a survival instinct.  You are much more likely to survive an encounter with a potentially threatening agency – whether it’s a lion or that stranger on the street late at night in the “bad part of town” – if you are able to take in information quickly and make a decision about how to react.  If I’m a bank teller and a woman walks in wearing a business suit and chatting idly on her cell phone while she waits in line, she’s probably less of a threat (despite her annoying lack of manners vis-a-vis the cell phone) than a guy in a ski mask carrying a shotgun.  I mean, duh.

But not all cues are so obvious, and not all situations are so potentially lethal.  Maybe you’re meeting possible clients at a business dinner.  You need to make a great first impression, so you examine and evaluate – what is likely to come across well?   She’s wearing Jimmy Choos and carrying a Prada clutch and looking disdainfully at the mundanely-dressed people surrounding her – maybe talk about Fashion Week?  (If you know anything about Fashion Week, that is, which I wouldn’t.)  He’s wearing a Red Sox cap and keeps checking the box scores on his BlackBerry – ooh, talk about the World Series.  (Again, this would be a problem for me, but in principle it would be a good idea.)

Or parent-teacher conferences.  Does the teacher look tense and uncomfortable?  Maybe little Johnny hasn’t been completely honest about how he’s doing in school.    Lunch with a friend – she’s picking at her food and she’s quiet.  Time for a heart-to-heart?  Hubby’s acting strange lately, preoccupied and snappish – problems at work, or having an affair?  (Or maybe just picking up on your PMS, but still.  Work with me, here.)

We do it all day, every day.  We do it because we have to, in order to survive and maintain a stable environment.  Do we take it to extremes?  Absolutely.  Because the problem isn’t that we do it – it’s hardwired, folks, sorry, no matter how much it sucks – the problem arises when we fail to take into account that it’s not an exact science.  We overuse it.  Is she extremely heavy?  Well, then it’s not unreasonable to assume that you probably shouldn’t talk about diet plans, gym memberships and how frustrating it is that you can’t lose that ten pounds – because that’s very likely to offend.  It’s not, however, reasonable to assume that she’s lazy and gluttonous and therefore inferior to you, and not worth your time. (Because, you know, you’re perfect.)  Is he a young African-American male?  Don’t assume he likes rap, or that he’s got a criminal record.  It is safe to assume he isn’t going to react well if you to walk up and start talking about the KKK rally you read about in the paper.*  You might be wrong about both of these – diet plans and the rally – because everyone is different and they might actually not be offended at all…but you need to err on the side of caution.  That’s using basic facts to frame appropriate action, which is good and right and necessary.  It isn’t pigeonholing – which is not right, or necessary, or good.

We do make assumptions about people based on initial impressions.  But we can sometimes forget that what we see from a distance is not the whole picture.  When you get close up, you often see the real picture, and it’s frequently very different from what you initially thought you saw.  From a distance, they may be male, female, black, white, tall, short, fat, skinny…but close up, they’re all people.  All alike, and all different.  With all the breathtaking complexity and variety that make us, as a species, difficult to understand, impossible to pigeonhole, and endlessly worth knowing.  If we don’t realize that – if we judge based on that initial impression and slot that person neatly into a category without ever investigating further – we do a grave injustice not only to that person, but to ourselves.  There are people I have met and formed impressions of, and not bothered to get to know.  Some of those people – when I did learn more about them – turned out to be sort of jerks, sure.  But some have turned out to be beautiful additions to my life.  Likewise, there are people with whom I have leapt into close relationships, thinking they were great, only to discover that they were more toxic than I could ever have imagined.

Will I ever learn not to make snap judgments?  Probably not.  But, as I get older, I’m learning not to rely on those snap judgments, and not to let them be the last word.  Because often, they are wrong, and by relying on them I may either let someone into my life who was damaging and dreadful, or miss out on a wonderful person who makes my life a more delightful place.   So I try to reserve final judgment until I really know the person.

And that’s what passes for wisdom from me today, my little Main Street epiphany.  The woman I passed?  I have no idea who she is, but I wish I could apologize to her, because I feel sort of bad.  No, she wasn’t Claudia Schiffer.  But she was nicely put-together and carried herself with confidence and sparkle** and honestly, that’s what defines attractive, I think.   Or should.

Have a wonderful Wednesday!

*[Please note, I would be very unlikely to walk up to anyone, ever, and start talking about diet plans and gym memberships, or KKK rallies.  Extreme examples to make a point.  Please don’t freak out.]

**[Not vampire sparkle, but still.]

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I have an announcement to make!  ED has officially been cast in her first non-school-related stage role!

Okay, not a role as such.  She’s in ensemble.  But still.  🙂  She’ll be performing with the Charleston Light Opera Guild in H.M.S. Pinafore in late January.  How exciting!

Last night was her first audition ever and she was commendably calm about it…and seems to have done very well, though I didn’t get to hear her sing or read.  It’s going to be very, very good experience for her doing this and getting to see what it’s like to be involved in a real production.  It’ll be tough and I’m sure there will be tears and frustration involved – and it’ll be hard on her, too, haha – but it’ll be good for her.  Her voice teacher’s going to be very pleased – she’s the one who pushed ED to audition in the first place.  It’ll be fun though, too, because a very good friend of hers who has quite a bit of stage experience will be performing in ensemble as well.

Okay, so as you might have guessed I’m very excited about that.  In other news, things are going generally well.  The delayed-period baggage is disappearing at a steady pace, which makes me enormously happy.  With the hormones leveling off, eating right is getting much easier, and I plan to start back to my workout schedule tonight, assuming the Greenland project is finished in time.  (Well, I’ll start regardless, but it might just be treadmill if the project runs late.)  My mood has been better, between eating right, being a little more active, and (again) normalizing hormone levels.  I’m sleeping a little better, though I did wake up at 4:30 this morning, but that was mostly due to allergies.

A story idea I had a few months ago (and did a little work on, but it kept wanting to turn into a Twilight-clone, can’t imagine why, so I abandoned it until I can manage to get my head out of Forks) is persisting, and evolving into something that I think has possibilities.  I’m a little late to jump into NaNoWriMo, and a little crazy-busy, but I am toying with the notion anyway.  I’ll need to decide in the next day or two, as it’s already the 11th and time keeps on ticking…(into the future)…but I need a kick in the @$$ because otherwise I will procrastinate until it loses its urgency and it’ll go in the mental circular file with all the others swirling around up there.  If I don’t hit it while I’m excited about it, it’ll never get hit.  😦

YD is worrying me a bit lately.  She’s getting to an age where she’s got to be handled carefully.  On the one hand, we have to keep her within limits and sort of use a tight rein so she doesn’t develop major attitude and behavioral issues as puberty approaches.  On the other, it’s a very emotionally fragile and unstable time and requires generous application of affection and love and acceptance without lapsing into excessive tolerance and excuse-making.  It’s such a fine line, such a delicate balance, and I’m still recovering from walking that razor’s edge with ED.  (Wait, I still do walk it, sometimes.  But she’s old enough now that the balance isn’t quite so delicate.)  But it’s clearly time to gear up for it with YD.  Sometimes it amazes me how it’s possible to love someone so totally and overwhelmingly and mind-staggeringly, and still want to throttle them on a regular basis.  She’s beautiful and brilliant and amazing, and also tooth-grindingly stubborn and willful and mulish and belligerently determined to make the world change to suit her, rather than changing one thing about herself to suit the world.

She gets that from DH.  Obviously.   (All right, who laughed?  No, that was not a cough.  That was a laugh.  Don’t think I didn’t hear it.  I’m watching you.)

That’s about it from me.  I know I promised a detailed review of Jillian’s Fitness Ultimatum – and I’ll post it, I promise.  I plan to get in a thorough workout on it tomorrow night (tonight’s the Biggest Loser and Greenland, so probably just treadmill tonight) and I will try to have something up probably Friday.  Meanwhile, I have lots of work to get out, so have a wonderful day, everybody.

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I have a confession to make.  I’m happily married, but I’m also in love with another man.

Well, okay.  Not a man, exactly.  More of a…well…sort of…a vampire.

A sparkly vampire.

There’s something very, very wrong with a 36-year-old woman who is happily married with two beautiful children dreaming about a vampire.  [Even a sparkly vampire.]

But then, I guess it’s not so bad.  There’s a shirt at zazzle.com that sums it up perfectly:  I’m married.  He’s fictional.  This can’t possibly backfire.  🙂

Haven’t read Twilight yet?  Well, you’ve got just under two weeks before the movie comes out.  My advice?  Don’t read it now.  If you do, I suspect you’ll hate the movie, because there’s no way it can possibly measure up.  Personally, I’m going to keep them completely separate in my mind and not even compare, because I don’t want to hate the movie.

Or you could just skip the movie.  Because more and more, I’m seeing this as a complete must-read.  I just finished reading it for the third time, this time reading it aloud to my 9-year-old, and I’m more fixated and obsessed and enraptured over Edward Cullen than ever.  More, I’m enraptured by the whole Bella-Edward story.

It’s not a book.  It’s an experience, and I want to share it with the whole world.  I’d compare it to Harry Potter, but honestly, as much as I loved Harry, he never came close to this level of obsession for me.

And now I’m going to shut up about Twilight.  I’m sure there are other things to talk about.



Have I mentioned how much I love Twilight?

Oops, sorry.  Okay, seriously.  Quick update, then back to work because I’ve lots to do-dah-day, as Rolie Polie Olie’s dad used to say.

The weekend was…short.  Saturday I worked pretty much all day, while also helping YD with her project on Greenland.  (Anything you wanna know about Greenland, I can probably tell you.  But trust me, it’s not all that interesting.  Okay, some of it is but if you aren’t into ice, skip it.  Just take my word for it.)  I got lots done, but lost a whole day at home.  It’s a trade-off.  You can’t be everywhere.

Sunday, I cleaned, did laundry, and spent some more time in Greenland.  Not literally.  Though I am feeling a bit blubbery so I’d probably fit right in with all the whales and seals.  TOM showed up FINALLY on Sunday morning, or possibly Saturday night, I honestly don’t remember and it doesn’t matter.  He’s finally here, thank God.  So hopefully I can start taking off some of the weight I’ve put on the past week or so I’ve been waiting for him.  I’m down some as of this morning already, so I feel good about that.

Eating was surprisingly good over the weekend, a few slipups but not too bad.  I haven’t exercised at all and I’m feeling the lack – no wonder I feel blubbery! – but I’ll get back to it tonight or tomorrow night, depending on how much pain I’m in.  I believe I’ll try to do at least a little bit tonight regardless, because there are some light things I can do that will help the pain rather than increasing it.

DH has been amazing – he’s been working out regularly even though I’ve been slacking, and he simultaneously puts me to shame and makes me very proud.  He’s losing weight, too, visibly – so I suspect there’s some jealousy in my near future.  🙂

ED has an audition with the Light Opera Guild tonight, and I’m trying to work up some nervousness for her.  I can’t, though, because I’m just too tired to stress over much.

That’s about it for me today.  Lots of stuff spinning around the brain, but very little of it of any relevance or interest to anyone but me.  And now I must go daydream some more about Edward Cullen get some work done.

Peace, out.

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Okay, I must confess, my title is a total rip-off from my friend, B.  Paraphrased, but completely plagiaristic nonetheless.  She deals with many of the same neurochemical issues I do (you know, depression, anxiety, a nebulous free-floating societally-induced self-loathing, things like that) and one of the things she says sometimes that makes me giggle is, “I’m living the Great Depression”.  Doesn’t sound funny, but I giggle, because I get it. (Though I wonder how it is that even during the worst of her issues, she’s still such a wonderful person, while I tend to be such a cranky, whiny b**ch?)

I’m not really depressed, as such.  Just sort of…recessed.  I lay in bed for a good five or ten minutes this morning, trying to think of a reason to get up.  I came up with “Because I have to” which is not a reason nor technically accurate…but hey, it did the trick, so that’s a good sign this isn’t full-blown depression.  (In the years of my Great Depression, “have to” wouldn’t have begun to cut it.  There were lots of days I just didn’t get up.  And I know I’m not alone in that.  Anyone else remember days of unwashed hair, unbrushed teeth and pajamas at 2 p.m. – and not because you had the flu?)

But I’m definitely feeling the effects of something.  All the signs that I’ve come to recognize so intimately over the years are there.  Complete lack of motivation to do anything other than breathe (and sometimes that’s even a bit iffy)…wanting to do nothing but sleep all the time…alternating between eating everything that doesn’t run away from me and not wanting to eat anything ever again…a complete inability to care very much about anything, except in a very negative way…

I’ve heard it said that “depression is merely anger without enthusiasm”.  I like that quote.  A lot.  Because when I get this way, I tend to be depressed until I can summon up enough energy to be actively angry.  (Yeah, I’m a FUN date.)

Fortunately, this has been going on long enough (what?  about 25 years now?) that I recognize it pretty quickly.  That doesn’t mean I can just switch it off, but there are steps I can take, and just knowing what’s going on keeps me from some of the more self-destructive knee-jerk reactions.  Unfortunately, the most destructive thing I do is just a long slow slide of inactivity and neglect that ends up with every aspect of my life being at least moderately damaged.  Knowing this, but being unable to completely mitigate it, makes me feel even more sad and desperate.

Some of it is situational, and I recognize that.  But most of it – nearly all of it – is chemical.  I can’t blame it on the season – we all know about S.A.D., right?  – because we’ve had more sunshine in the last few weeks than we have most summers, and I’ve partaken of as much of it as physically possible.  Yeah, it’s not as strong at this time of year, but I’m pretty sure quantity has made up for quality in my case.

I do think I’m part bear, though.  Hibernation would make my life so much simpler.  Ah, well.  Heave a sigh and move on.

I know what I need to do.  I need to be uber-careful about how I am eating, and avoid sugars, refined carbs and processed foods like the plague. (Note to self:  TOSS the rest of the Halloween candy!)  I need to be  hyper-diligent about taking my supplements, particularly my StressTabs.  I need to minimize caffeine.  I need to be extremely structured about sleep, because sleep deprivation is the number one contributor here.  I need, above all else, to be consistent and diligent about exercise, but keep it to a level that energizes me rather than exhausting me. (That’s a little lower level this time of year than normally, and I have to be conscientious about making that adjustment without completely going sedentary.)   I need to force the water, because at this time of year I want only warm, soothing things, not cold, refreshing, body-renewing water.  (You’re right, this is a great time to go Ayurvedic and sip my hot water through the day, yeah?  Hm.  Glad you thought of that, thanks.)  And I need to meditate…count my blessings…exercise my ability to affect my own mood by being present and focusing my mind.  I need to focus on what’s right and good about my life (which is most of it), rather than dwelling on every negative I can dredge up from the depths of my subconscious.

I need to do these things.  The thing is, it’s hard to summon up the energy to do the things that I know will give me the energy to get out of this hole.  It’s cyclical, really, isn’t it?  Where do you come up with that initial $50,000 investment that will net you $4 million by retirement age?  You know, when the bank balance is already at $43.50 and you still need to buy gas and food for a week?  Hmm.

Fortunately, though, it’s not that cut-and-dried, and that’s probably one of the most important lessons I’ve learned over the last few years.  Unlike money, energy really is something I can manufacture within myself, and build on.  Yes, the chemical issues make it much more difficult, and sometimes I feel like I’m fighting a losing battle.  But I can do it…I know I can…and I’m very blessed because I have people in my life who get it, who know where I am because they’ve been there and maybe still are – so I know I’m not alone.  That helps.  It helps to feel that you’re not defective or crazy or worthless or stupid (all the things your treacherous mind tells you that you are at 4 a.m.), but just dealing with a physical issue, like a lot of other people.  And I’m so blessed, because this can be overcome.  I know this.  I’ve done it.  I’ll do it again.

So today, I will confess that I have been struggling…and officially Dropping the Ball…in just about every way possible.  And I will choose not to continue to hate myself for that and despise what I am, because that just fuels the cycle and exacerbates everything.  I will choose to acknowledge, to note areas I need to improve, and know that I can do so – and do it.  And I will choose to love and cherish and respect myself, despite these failings, because I deserve that.  No matter how badly I may have slipped and failed, I still deserve it.  Failure is human, and it’s not the end of the story.  Not even close.  Because everyone fails, and it’s not failure that defines you.  It’s what you do after that.

Just call this my emotional bail-out package.  🙂  Time to recognize the recession and do what I need to do to get out of it.

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So Anyway

Okay, now that that‘s out of my system…mostly…on to the real meat of the day.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted.  Partly, that’s because I’m just in a strange place mentally.  I’m tempted to make all sorts of excuses and issue lame half-explanations, but the truth of the matter is that I tend to get this way, at this time of the year.  Sure, there are a lot of things that have me unhappy, dissatisfied, and restless, but overall, I just have to realize that this is how my mind, my hormones, and my brain work.

At this time of the year, I start thinking a lot.  I’ve described it as feeling like all the external noise is sort of quieted, like the fact that nature is starting to wind down makes the whole world just a quieter place.  For whatever reason, I get introspective, and all the things that I’ve pushed away or buried or just ignored all year tend to float to the surface.  All the things I’ve avoided dealing with, suddenly demand to be dealt with.  That’s upsetting for someone who makes a career out of avoidance.  (That would be me, in case you didn’t know.) This year I’m determined to find a healthier way of handling it.  But I’m determined every year, so who knows?  Maybe I make a little progress each time?  If so, I guess that’s all you can ask for.

Today is YD’s 9th birthday.  I can’t believe it…it really does seem just yesterday that she was four-nan-a-haff, as she put it, and in pigtails.  Suddenly she’s doing complicated projects on Greenland and following the election returns with all the intensity of a 35-year-old political analyst.  When did this happen?!?

Things are odd at work.  Lots of change in the air and no one ever knows how everything will settle out and how it will affect those of us too lowly to be directly involved.  Generally, this makes me tense, but this time I’m not.  I have a sense of fatalism about it all; maybe, if it ends up (due to the effect it has on others) being a situation that is untenable for me, it is meant to be, and it’s just time for me to move on.  It’s not as if I haven’t thought that a lot, in the last couple of years.  I’m not miserably unhappy, but…I’ve been doing this for 16 years, give or take, and part of me just feels it’s time for a change.  So I’m sort of laissez-faire about it all.

I’m having hormonal issues again.  TOM – the b@$tard – is once again not making his scheduled appearance, and I’m having all the associated issues.  It’s frustrating, because among those are, invariable, wanting to eat all the time, being worn out, and gaining weight. (Partly as a result of wanting to eat all the time!)  But what can you do?

On the plus side of the equation:  My adorably wonderful DH surprised me on Saturday with a copy of Jillian Michaels’ Fitness Ultimatum for the Wii!  I’ve raved about my anticipation of this in the past, and I was overjoyed.  I’ll give you a detailed review of it later – when I have more time and focus – but let’s just say I’ve done it twice and…um…ow.  Want a brief teaser?  There’s running involved.  Lots of it.  Please to remember, I’m the Girl Who Does Not Run.

Well, actually, I’m not.  I’m the Girl Who Did Not Run Prior to This.  And The Girl Who Hobbles.

I love that it opens with Jillian’s voice saying, “You DO know whose game you’re playing, right?  This is a Jillian Michaels game.”  Sort of like the flight attendant telling you, “If The Gates of Hell is not your intended destination, now is a good time to disembark.”  VERY like that, in fact.  🙂  (But she doesn’t yell.  That was sort of disappointing to me.)

Anyway.  I’m off to have dinner with YD and the family, and then (yes) Birthday Cake.  And it’s a measure of my total lack of willingness to stress over anything at the moment that I will be eating whatever I want.  Granted, as my stomach is (these days) the size of a walnut, I won’t be eating much of anything…but I’m not stressing over that either.  🙂

Have a wonderful evening.

(Oh, you thought I was actually going somewhere with some of this?  Nah.  Sorry.  No wisdom today.  Maybe tomorrow, but I’m not making any promises there either.)

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