LunaNiña





Love as if your heart isn't fragile

"I am as deep as a puddle after a hard rain"

Really? A blog? How very 2001.


Layered Like an Onion

Posted on 4/9/2017 in Dailies | 0 comments

I spent the last two years experiencing levels of anxiety at work that greatly increased last fall. To the point that in October I had my first panic attack in 15 years. As much as I enjoyed my work I was also struggling for reasons that I still don’t feel comfortable discussing in public. Trying to pretend that things were okay or that I could somehow will things to be better was essentially just adding more stress and anxiety. The panic attack was the final sign that I needed to make changes. So I polished up the resume, sent it off into the world and, thankfully, I landed a new job in the beginning of the year that made it possible for me to move back to northern Virginia. While the move to Maryland helped me grow career wise I always had in mind coming back to Va - a short 6.5 years later and I’m back!

It’s funny, in a not comical sense, that I only realized that I was depressed until the anxiety and stress levels went down. Its hard to pinpoint when it started. I just know I finally put a label to it a couple of weeks before my birthday. I used to enjoy my birthdays, to the point that I would countdown to it - on the blog ages ago with a script that ran on the side bar, and then on Facebook despite feeling a little (a lot) silly about it. And then the cancer and the hysterectomy happened. I understood why I wasn’t overjoyed during the 2015 birthday. I even understood why the 2016 birthday didn’t inspire much joy. Plus, I thought, maybe I’ve finally just grown up, gotten to the point where birthdays are nothing special at all. But even as I thought that I knew I was just trying to deny the truth which is, I’m still not “over” my life being turned upside down two years ago. But I also feel like I can’t say that. Like I’m not supposed to say that. People expect me to be happy, to be relieved and grateful that the hysterectomy caught all of the cancer.

And of course I am. But there’s no denying that along with my reproductive organs, the hysterectomy took something else, some little spark of hope, of joy, of - I don’t know. Something that doesn’t sound so maudlin.

While I was struggling with dealing with the worst work experience I’ve ever had to deal with, the brain had no time to process anything else, I suppose. So when the new year rolled around and I realized that the birthday was coming back around I was caught by surprise by just how little I cared about it. For weeks at a time I even forgot all about it. And I know, many people behave that way and it’s nothing out of the ordinary for them but until two years ago that was way out of the ordinary for me.

The week before my birthday I was driving somewhere when I thought, “Oh. It’s actually next week.” And then, like the sky clearing up after a storm I had a realization, “Oh,” I said to myself, “You’re depressed!” I almost laughed because i should have realized sooner - this isn’t new territory for me. And yet, it still has taken a month to shake the fog off and make a conscious decision to not let myself fall deeper into the pit. Sadly, the weight gain is the thing that has really scared me enough to make some changes.

Shame I couldn’t have figured this out and resolved to get back on the right track before I gained I don’t even know how many pounds. I’m scared to step on the scale. Though given that I have a follow up with the oncologist on Tuesday I guess I’ll know soon enough just what the number on the scale is. Not looking forward to the embarrassing moment when they record the higher number in the system. But, hey, at least then I’ll know what I’m working with and as we all know, data is never a bad thing. She says, trying to find the humor and silver lining in all of this.


My Reading Rules

Posted on 3/7/2017 in Books | 0 comments

After reading a blog post on Bookriot about reading rules I started thinking about mine.

  • Never dog ear a book. I tend to not use bookmarks and if I do, it’s something thin, like a receipt or even a square of tissue.
  • Related to the above, if the book is new, I endeavor to not break the spine. For quick reads, it appeals to me to be done with a book and still have it look good as new.
  • That said, if a book requires thought and time to finish and understand, having it gently show wear also appeals to me.
  • I like to have more than one book going at the same time. They have to be of different topics so it’s easy to keep track of each book’s progress. I move between books as the moods strikes but inevitably one book will rise above the rest and compel me to devote my time to only it. I let the stories tell me how to read.
  • I’ve tried to get into reading books on the Kindle but I find that I still prefer reading paper books best. Although I’ve been reading A Tale of Two Cities on the Kindle, progress is so slow. I blame the ability to be distracted so easily. No matter how engrossed I think I am in a story, when I hear a ding or feel the buzz of the phone in my hand, I am pulled away to check emails or make a move on a game. I wish I were better able to ignore the notifications but that seems to only happen when I’m holding a paper book in my hands.
  • If it’s a series, I have to read the books in order.
  • I try to end at a chapter but that’s sometimes difficult if I’ve read long into the night and have to admit that sleep is more necessary than getting to the end of a chapter.
  • At some point in a story, I find the need to know the ending. I don’t fight this; sometimes all I need to do is read the last page, sometimes it’s the last chapter. Only once has this actually ruined a book for me. Knowing how a book ends detracts not one bit from wanting to know how it got to that ending.
  • No marginalia on quick reads. But I do make rare exceptions on school books, history/philosophy books, etc. Basically any books that I a) intend on keeping and b) require significant thought to understand.
  • Unless I am sure that I will be reading the book multiple times, I gift/donate the book so that others can enjoy it.

I think those cover my rules. Though it does feel as if I’m missing something.


The One Where I Went to an Adoption Seminar

Posted on 2/11/2017 in Adoption | 0 comments

Folks who have been reading me for a long time (or anyone who’s ever had more than a passing conversation with me) know that I have longed wished to have children. I kept putting it off because the time never seemed right, the money was never enough. When I was in a serious relationship, the topic would come up, I’d get excited and then things would just not work out. And, well, we know what happened two years ago (or if you’re new, the Cliff Notes: cancer resulting in a hysterectomy, resulting in infertility). I don’t even consider these last two years as lost years. I wasn’t in an the emotional space to try to follow up on an adoption.

Hell, I’m still not 100% sure. Having raised my sister, been a nanny, had countless babysitting gigs has taught me that raising a child, doing it thoughtfully and well, that takes effort and energy. The idea of doing it alone, it’s scary. This is definitely one of those moments where I think a little fear is a healthy thing. It proves to me that I know I’m not going into this blindly.

With my 45 birthday coming up in 2018, I’m at a point where, if I want to try and adopt a baby, I have to start the process now. So I went to an informational meeting. As I waited for the speakers to start, I looked through the packet until I got to the page that I was searching for. One that I was already quite familiar with as I would regularly look at the information on the agency’s website. It was the table detailing the cost of the home visit, the adoption, and the additional services. The numbers hadn’t changed, a good and a bad thing. They’re still high but, hey, they haven’t gotten higher so that’s something, no?

Part of my brain listened to the information and part of my brain did basic math. What’s in savings, what I’ll be getting from the job I’ve just left, what might need to be borrowed. I felt deflated. It all just seems so daunting. And then I heard a baby laugh. The speaker announced that a previous client was here to talk to us about her experience. Naturally, she’d brought her baby along. As soon as I saw the tiny person I knew. I knew what I’ve always known. There’s no way I don’t try this. The cost of the adoption is scary but this is why I moved in with friends three years ago. This is why I’ve cut back on everything that I could possibly cut back on, to pay down the debt I’d accumulated. I wanted to get to a place financially where this would be possible.

For as long as I can remember I’ve said there is only one regret I never want to have and that’s to not have tried to build my family. I used to say that way back when the possibility of my body failing me was never even considered because why would it?

The mother shared with us that she’d tried IVF and that with that process the question is all about the “if.” What if it doesn’t work the first time, the third time, the seventh time. She then said that adoption is all about the when. There’s no if. It’s just the waiting, waiting, waiting until you get the call. I don’t know how true that is, but I know this.

I want to believe it.


A Lifetime of Nanoseconds

Posted on 10/24/2016 in Dailies | 0 comments

As a non-religious person* I feel as if religious people think me incapable of feeling awe over the world and life in general. They are, of course, wrong. I am humbled by life, by what evolved and by what we’ve created. I often find myself thinking about the immensity of what we’ve accomplished by moving away from sleeping under the stars to arrive at these highly structured and complex lives. How is it possible to not be able to fully comprehend that span of time and also feel as if was just yesterday?

I found myself once again marveling at that sense of progress when I picked up The Federalist Papers tonight. I vaguely remember “reading” (aka skimming) sections in high school so when I saw a used copy up for grabs a year or so ago I let nostalgia (and a sense of guilt) talk me into taking it home with me - where it’s sat on one bookshelf or another ever since.

Maybe it’s the sheer lunacy of this election that sparked a real interest a day or so ago, but whatever the reason, tonight I cracked open the yellowed cover and began reading the introduction.

book cover of The Federalist Papers

I’d forgotten that the papers were originally written as a series of letters to the public. If you’d asked me, I’m embarrassed to say I wouldn’t have been able to share that bit of information but as soon as I read that detail the high school history lessons came flooding back. Reading that made me wonder, will anything written today rise to the same level of prominence a hundred years from now? That isn’t me dismissing today’s scholars or thinkers.That is a genuine question; I’d like to be more in tune with think pieces on history, science, etc.

The question is more of a nudge for myself to be proactive and thoughtful about waking up the dormant curiosity about life that used to spur me to learn HTML/CSS, to read psychology journals just for the hell of it, for example. With the way this election is playing out (that Trump is a legitimate concern is mind blogging), it would be easy to dismiss the current populace as being less well read or learned but to do so would require a certain amount of delusion and hypocrisy - as much as I would like to think I shouldn’t be included in that statement I can’t say I’ve been doing a very good job of staying on top of what’s happening in the country, much less the world. I’ve been living an insulated life lately (let’s define lately as the last several decades, shall we?) and thinking about these three men (Hamilton, Madison and Jay) as being so dedicated, focused, and daring as to take on the grand, visionary task of starting a new government makes me ask, “What have I done lately?!?”

I’m certainly not thinking I’ll be the mother of a new nation, but at the very least I could afford to be a little more connected to what’s going on around me, to do a little more living outside of my head. It couldn’t hurt and could only help.

Also? This bit from the introduction written in this edition published in 1961 amused me given the current fame and popularity of Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton:

The story of how Hamilton persuaded and plotted and bullied his way over the months to the narrowest of victories in the New York convention is an epic of American politics that deserves to be better known.

Mission accomplished. That line alone has made me want to see the musical more than every article I’ve read, every news clip I’ve seen about the many awards the musical has won. What can I say? I’m slow to understand what’s happening sometimes. See above about living more outside of my head. In its own way, I hear that the musical is awesome (in the truest sense of the word) so, in the pursuit of awesome things in this life and world, maybe I should see about tickets.

But maybe first I should buy a few scratch offs as I hear the tickets are not cheap!

*Perhaps when those of faith stop thinking of atheists as kickers of puppies and stealers of candy from babies I’ll be able to use the label for myself without the awkward contortions.

 


The Thank You Email that I Will Write

Posted on 10/23/2016 in Dailies | 0 comments

Graduation night is memorable for two things. One, that I was allowed to go to an all night event. Without rehashing overly dramatic history please just trust me when I tell you that my mother allowing me to be out of the house past midnight, much less all night, was unprecedented. I probably told her it was required. Having immigrant parents who were unfamiliar with the American school system had its pros and cons. It’s curious that I don’t remember how I made this possible but I did. And that led to the second memorable thing.

“I have a present for you,” my history teacher said. I was surprised and happily took the present. He watched me unwrap the book and said he thought I would enjoy Barbara Kingsolver. Having never read her I wasn’t sure but it was my only graduation present so he could have given me a pack of gum and I would have been just as pleased.

“You’ll get the second present in the mail,” he continued.
“I don’t understand,” I said, confused and trying to remember if I’d ever given him my address. “What is it?”
“You’ll see.”

I’m not known to be a patient person, this has always been the case so I couldn’t let it be. I think he finally understood because he told me he’d given me an A for the year.

“But I don’t deserve an A,” I said, thinking about my less than stellar third quarter grades.

“It was clear something was going on. And you’re capable of A work so I didn’t let one quarter affect that.”
I thanked him and the rest of the night is a blur. I didn’t have many friends so I think I wandered around watching people enjoying themselves, listening as they made plans for the summer or talking about going off to college.

I would be living at home while driving the short miles to attend classes at George Mason but that was a couple of months away. I had no idea then that it would take me fifteen years to complete my four year degree.

All I knew that night was that someone had noticed I had been floundering. That this teacher who valued my opinion, who listened when I participated in class, who patiently tried to answer my questions even on subjects and classes he didn’t teach, believed I was capable of better even when I myself didn’t.
I think and talk of him more than most people talk about their senior year civics teacher I’m sure. But he was a beacon during a time in my life when I needed those rays of light. I was fortunate to have had several good and a few great teachers in my life. He was the only one who ever acknowledged my pain, however. When you grow up being told you have no pain, that you are not allowed those feelings, when every other person believes you when you cheerfully say, “I’m fine!” - the one person who says, “I see you” is memorable.

This is why, some months back, I turned to Google to help me find him. I’d idly searched in the past with little luck. But when I found myself once again recounting the grad night story to a friend I decided it was finally time find him and share just how much that moment - well, the whole year - meant.

Using my much lauded (by me but that doesn’t make them any less good) search skills I finally found a quick bio on an old website. From there I discovered a Twitter and LinkedIn accounts. It looks like he stopped teaching a few years after I graduated which seems like a shame.

And here we are. I’ve drafted the email a dozen times over but haven’t gotten anywhere close to sending it. Conventional wisdom would have me believe he would enjoy hearing how much of a positive impact he had on my life at a time when I sorely needed positive interactions. But I can’t quite figure out how much of the story to share. Yes he noticed I was in pain but I didn’t volunteer the cause of it. So how to properly convey how much his kindness meant? If someone doesn’t know you’re in the middle of the ocean, tired, desperate, devoid of hope, will he understand the value of the lifesaver?

I don’t know. And so I write and edit and delete. I’ll send it one of these days. Until then, even if he doesn’t know it, I’ll continue to tell the story of the civics teacher who gave me more than a less than deserved A.


Domain Fun

Posted on 10/5/2016 in Geeky | 0 comments

“He’s such a dork,” I said about someone today. The person who heard this laughed and laughed some more after I continued. “And that’s not meant in a negative way. I’m a dork,” I said.

This was proven yet again when I was reviewing the list of domains I own on GoDaddy and saw that I own muttering.rocks. Now, I immediately knew why I would have taken the time to buy it; as I’ve had it on the to do list for years now to move the Unconscious Mutterings game to its own domain (I also own unconscious-mutterings.com so the game isn’t lacking a home). What I don’t remember is actually purchasing the .rocks domain. Since it expires in February 2017, it’s a safe bet that I bought it this February but there is not a single teeny tiny whiff of a memory.

Back in the early 2000s I had upwards of 25-30 domains (but only used two of those at the same time, mind you). It was a dorky (see, it came back around) little game (though expensive) but among geeky internet folks buying domain names and sitting on them was a bit of a past time. (Of course, for some people it was an attempt at striking it rich when some big company came calling wanting to buy one from you. Never my intent; mine were so specialized for my interests that I would have been shocked if anyone had ever asked.)

The question, every year that a domain is about to expire is, “Do I still want to have this? What am I going to use it for? Will I ever use it?” Okay, three questions, or one with several parts. Either way we slice it, I tend towards keeping domains because some I’ve regretted letting go.

Such is the case for vain-girl.com. About a decade ago, I thought that maybe journaling about my attempts to lose weight and exercise would help the cause. I didn’t want to bore the regular readers (so cute, like there were many. But, there were more than one so readers is the right word!) of the blog so I decided to start a new blog at that domain. Thing is, it never really got much traffic so it was hard to maintain an interest without some outside accountability. So I stopped journaling and eventually let the domain lapse.

A year or so after that, a friend asked me if I still blogged at vain-girl.com. No, I said, why do you ask?

Because it’s a porn site now.

I paused and then asked, “It’s a porn site and you still felt the need to ask me if I was active on it?”

He shrugged and said, “Well, who knows with you?”

I laughed and called him a dork (it’s a theme!) and regretted that my pretty little domain was being used for such tawdry purposes. A year ago, on a whim I pulled up the domain on my browser and was elated to see that it was once again available! I rushed (how does one rush online?) to GoDaddy and brought the domain back into the fold. Funny how I recall that moment and that decision with such detail but muttering.rocks is such a mystery.

The brain, who can predict what will stick?


Can You Do Social Without Social Media?

Posted on 10/3/2016 in Dailies | 0 comments

Sometimes seeing a news feed full of smiling happy babies, parents bragging about their kids, cute announcements about new pregnancies or photos of newborns in the quintessential baby blanket is too much to take in. When that happens I deactivate my Facebook account until I stop feeling so emotional. I don’t announce these breaks. For all of my joking about being self absorbed, about being my own favorite subject (all true, though, as most jokes are. I kid, I kid) I don’t like to call attention to those moments. What’s the point, really? There’s nothing to be gained by it. So I quietly go away and quietly come back. And rarely has anyone commented on that.

I was trying to explain Facebook to a friend the other day. Though she doesn’t have an account, she asked me if I’d seen a certain bit of news. “No,” I said, “I disabled my accounts weeks ago.” This prompted her to ask if anyone had reached out to see if something was wrong, if I was okay. I laughed, “No,” I said. “That’s not how Facebook works.”

I believe that and, yet, I also wonder, if I were closer to people, maybe it would work that way?

I remember when I started blogging back in 2000; back then, if you were someone who posted on a regular basis, not posting something for a few days, a week, would trigger at least one “Hey, are you okay?” email. It isn’t that I think people cared more but I do think having to actively visit blogs created a level of investment that News Feeds don’t provide. You had your list of ten, fifteen, twenty blogs that you made the rounds on, and you could get to the point where you felt connected to someone. How deep that connection truly was, of course, is a question.

But now, in the days of 5000 friends lists, and endless ability to follow or subscribe to content, the act of taking in information is more passive and impersonal, I think. “But,” she protested, “haven’t they noticed that you haven’t posted or liked an announcement?”

“I’m sure not,” I said. “That’s just not the way it works.”

Facebook has allowed me to stay in touch with friends and family in El Salvador in a way that hasn’t been possible in the past; for that I appreciate the service but it has its cons. Though, truly, when it comes down to it, I don’t blame the service entirely, or at all, really. If this tool isn’t the one I need right now, then it’s on me to use any number of other services at my disposal. And maybe I will. Or maybe I’ll just reactivate my account. It is strangely fascinating to me how little I’ve missed it this time around, and at three weeks and counting, this has been the longest break I’ve taken.

I’m not ready to see any cute babies, just yet though. So I’ll continue the self-imposed ban for a little while longer. Maybe I’ll even use the time I would have spent scrolling and commenting by tackling some of my unread books. Wouldn’t that be something?


When It Twinges It Hurts

Posted on 10/1/2016 in Dailies | 0 comments

Are you ready to make fun of me, I asked?
Why, the friend replied.

That’s when I brought my arms forward and showed him the lovely wrist braces and shared that the doctor had diagnosed me with Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.

wrist braces

You’ve had quite a year, he said. I reminded him that it’s been quite the two years.

Last year basically started out with a diagnosis of cancer, it ended with a diagnosis of plantar fasciitis, which isn’t quite as (or at all) lethal but it’s painful as hell. If you haven’t had to deal with it, just trust me, it is. That lasted all the way through March of this year and now, Carpal Tunnel Syndrome (or, CTS, if I may) on both wrists.

When the subject of my migraines comes up, I share with people that 20+ years of living with migraines has made me accustomed to being in pain but that doesn’t mean I get used to pain. So trying to get a good night’s sleep lately is basically impossible.

The hysterectomy had ripple effects that I’m still trying to cope with. The added pain issues don’t help; I don’t believe I get whiny when I’m in pain but I do get emotional and dealing with those moods takes a lot of mental energy. It’s draining on a lot of levels. But, such is life. At least, if I squint a bit and use a lot of imagination, I can make believe my wrist braces are more like Wonder Woman bracelets and I get to feel like I could take on any villain that gets in my way. Provided, of course, I don’t actually have to hit or block anything. That would be super painful!


I Have Always Thought of You

Posted on 9/9/2016 in Parenting | 0 comments

If there has been a day when I haven’t thought of you, I don’t remember it.
I have considered your name
Your laugh
Your smile.
I looked forward to your hugs
And sticky hands making a mess on my clothes.
In my mind, I have decorated your room a dozen times over.
I had a closet full of toys that were meant to be passed down to you.
Three years ago I packed up a box full of them and sent them to someone who would hopefully love them as I dreamed you would.
The box also carried my tears.

How, I wondered, would I teach you two languages?
I always thought, I said today, I’d frame this map and hang it in my child’s room.
I dream of you over and over again,
The happiest moments are those early minutes of my day when you’ve not yet faded away.
People tell me, meaning well, that I shouldn’t give up waiting for you.
I kept a couple of toys for you just in case.
And I still consider names.
I have always thought of you.
And I wait.


From A to B to Z then back to J or P or ...

Posted on 6/27/2016 in Dailies | 0 comments

While having lunch with a friend on Saturday, she began to tell me a story about someone she knows who has developed a fear of flying. “But,” she said, “someone who hasn’t had a fear before, that doesn’t develop without some kind of traumatic event -” She seemed to be implying that because there had been no near death experience via flying that there couldn’t or shouldn’t be any reason why this person would now be afraid of getting on a plane.

“I’m afraid of flying now,” I shared. She blinked and said nothing so I continued. “Ever since the cancer last year and the surgery, I’m afraid of flying and that was never the case. I’m okay after the take off but before that my stomach churns, I am jittery and afraid. Fear of death will do it, I guess.”

She nodded but didn’t seem that convinced.

I realize I put her in a bit of a spot because is she really going to argue with my assessment? That’s the thing about mentioning the C-word, it has an unfortunate ability to shut things down. The laying down of the Cancer card isn’t anything I do intentionally, nor do I really even like bringing it up. But this wrong idea that the brain always works in such a linear fashion made me want to speak up. I was a psych major for a reason; the way that the mind is constantly making connections, trying to make sense of the world or the way it can sometimes misfire is fascinating really.

If I spend time psychoanalyzing myself it isn’t that hard to figure out why the fear of flying has come into play. Being diagnosed with cancer and having to have body parts cut out in order to cure it, then spending weeks waiting to hear if the cancer had spread, there was no controlling that. Nothing I did could change the trajectory of that life event. Flying is a bit like that, right? Once I’m on the plane, whether I make it to my next destination isn’t up to me. Of course, we could say that about pretty much any action I take every day of my life but to worry and be on high alert every minute of the day would be ridiculously overwhelming so let’s thank the brain for choosing to only do this when I have to fly. That’s manageable, mostly because I don’t do much traveling!

Still, I’m hoping that with a little more time passing, the anxiety around flying will fade away. Just because I can pinpoint it to a particular traumatic part of my life doesn’t mean it makes it any less annoying to have to deal with.

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