Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Day Six on Reduced Meds

I'm all fire and love for humanity in the morning. By late afternoon, I want to tear off my own skin.

The experts agree one should give the brain two weeks to adjust to any changes in these kinds of medications. So I must wait before drawing any conclusions. And then, if I'm still a loon, I should get rolfed or acupunctured or massaged on a regular basis. I'll do anything.

I guess if the rolfing and Chinese medicine don't help, I'll have to experiment with some drug cocktails. Hate to think I' might have to be on this stuff forever.

The very worst thing about not being emotionally stable is how I relate to my kids. I truly lose interest in them. That causes them to run at me full-force with body slams and frog leaps, and otherwise make sure my attention is on them. They sense when I am slipping away from them. Their desperation sends me further underground.

Maybe I'm just not the maternal type.

Monday, February 26, 2007

How to Be Complicit in Someone's Death

"So how's Grandma doing?" I asked my mom over the phone.

She sighed. "Well, she won't use her walker, and she's back up to smoking a pack and a half a day."


"Yeah, I know. I get so furious at her every time I bring her cigarettes over to her house that I just want to throw them at her."

Mm-hm. I suppose not buying them for her in the first place would be out of the question.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Day One of Reduced Meds

This morning I shook five pills out of a bottle onto my black granite kitchen counter top and proceeded to slice each one in half with a table knife.

"I'm tired of being stupid," I explained to Matt. I covered the knife and pill with a hand to prevent post-chop scatter. Chop. 40 mgs became 20. I sprinkled the tiny half pills into the compartments of my weekly pill dispenser. I have to use this thing that is usually reserved for people with dementia because the pills make me stupid.

Well, to be fair to the drugs, "stupid" is probably an exaggeration. Forgetful is more like it, and flaky, and, oh yeah, unable to achieve certain states that one expects to enjoy with one's partner. One can only put up with these things for so long.

My doctor gave me the okay to taper down. 20 mgs for 2 weeks, maybe a month, then down to 10. Then see how I'm doing. Presumably, if I find myself screaming at the children or hiding in the guest room to sob, I'll be upping the dose. But I am willing to experiment now. I want all of my faculties again.

It's possible that I have worn new paths in my brain deep enough that my thoughts follow the new patterns by habit. The last time I went off meds, I did just fine for five years.

It could happen again.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

This is the Way it Goes

It was a week of extremes: kids dripping green snot, Audrey up 5-6 times per night, sitter on reduced schedule, Nana busy with bridge and whatnot, umpteen hours of yoga training for me, and, oh, yes, Valentine's Day (a holiday that is rotten to the core and only fun for little kids). Plus, Jonah was anticipating our trip to CA by asking every few seconds, "How many days now until we go on the airplane?"

But the really crazy thing was that my grandmother entered the hospital. She was doing so poorly that my mother was inspired to call me and tell me if I wanted to see Grandma again, now was the time.

After hanging up the phone, I walked up two flights of stairs to the attic, where Jonah and Matt sat playing with a train set.

"I have to go to Centralia tomorrow," I said. "My grandma is not well. My mom said I better go."

I wanted to say, "She's dying," but since Jonah was present, I refrained. Instead, I tried to make the gravity of the situation clear in my hushed and steady delivery.

"Oh, no, is she dying?" he asked.

"Great Grandma Lorraine is dying?" asked Jonah.

My eyes popped out of my head as I gave Matt a look that spoke volumes about his honed skills of subtlety and my opinion about that.

Matt cringed and said, "Jesus...I'm sorry."

"She's pretty sick," I said, kneeling down in front of Jonah.

"Is she sick from smoking?"

Matt and I exchanged incredulous glances. "Yes," I admitted. I didn't know for sure if that was true, but one can surmise that fluid in the lungs and a failing heart weren't brought on by a lifetime of healthy living. It's no wonder Jonah picked up on this, since my mom bitches constantly about my grandma's smoking and I bitch constantly about her smoking. He's asked a lot of questions about it, such as the great and obvious question of all time: "Why do they do it if it's going to make them sick?"

I still haven't figured out a way to explain in clear terms that we grownups are bonkers.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Enlightenment Not Guaranteed

So I spend 13 hours this weekend at a yoga immersion at my sweet, beloved studio with all of my sweet, beloved teachers. I sit on a wood floor in a cross-legged position for long stretches and learn about sanskrit, yoga history, why we chant, and how to sequence a practice. Combined, I do 3-4 hours of asana and meditation and breathing exercises. Leaving class today, the last day of this session, my husband calls to tell me I need to go pick up Jonah from Nana's house because he forgot to leave the car seat with her last night when he dropped him off. So I drive through Husky basketball traffic from Capitol Hill to the U Village area. I play "I'm Not Ready to Make Nice" by the Dixie Chicks about three times during this trip, singing at the top of my lungs as if I were performing in an arena packed with screaming fans. I glance in my mirror at the car behind me. It's Meg, one of my teachers, and she is watching me and smiling really big.

When I get home with Jonah, I open a bag of chips and begin sorting through the mail I have ignored for two days. Audrey, the napless wonder, is racing around the house like the Energizer Bunny, cackling and knocking shit off surfaces. Jonah keeps demanding paper clips to unclog his glitter pens. Matt is asking me if I will bake the chicken that's been loitering in the fridge for days. The due date on it has passed. I think about this for one second, then wash the thing and rip out its innards. I open a piece of mail that tells me I am naughty for not responding by mail to the summons I got two weeks ago to be on a grand jury, every other Wednesday and Thursday, not to exceed 18 months. I fill out the form. Matt is talking to me about another form I need to fill out, something about voter registration for some election in March. I don't know whether this will be a local school bond vote or the presidential primaries. Matt and I get into an argument about why I always put these things off, when all it takes is a signature and a stamp, yadda yadda yadda. I go out and harvest the last of the dying parsley. I chop parsley and rosemary and thyme and garlic. My step mom calls. I crack a bottle of Stella. Step mom invites me over for dinner next week. I politely decline because next week is a nightmare.

I grab my beer, tell Matt I need a few minutes of downtime while the chicken roasts, and immediately come up here to the attic, light a cigarette and swill my beer.

I wait for enlightenment.

Friday, February 02, 2007

Give Up

Last night, Matt and I went to a rock club to see Dan Savage read from The Commitment and Neal Pollack read from Alternadad. Alternadad is a book in which Pollack writes of his angst about losing street cred now that he's a parent. Apparently, he grew up in a suburb with nerdy, stable parents who drank highballs at cocktail hour and played golf on the weekends. He couldn't fathom what a "cool" parent would look like, so he assumed there was no such thing. This was a problem when it came time for him, a self-proclaimed hipster, to become a dad. How was he going to pull it off?

(I can tell him all about cool parents. You know, the ones who let you drink tumblers of champagne on New Year's Eve and hold your hair back for you later when you vomit? Sooo cool. The ones who smoke so much pot they can't remember why you shouldn't? The ones who are so open about sex that you have to hear about it all the livelong day? Oooh, yes. Growing up with cool parents was grrrrrreat! It was so great that most of my life I never wanted to have children.

Not that I'm bitter. Because of my parents, I got my binge-drinking out of the way before I left high school and delayed having sex because I was terrified of getting knocked up young like my mom. So how could I complain?)

I empathize with old Neal. I have expended a great amount of energy on the same question (which may have been more ridiculous on my part due to my lack of actual coolness). It's a common concern.

I remember a woman in my graduate program telling me, wistfully, that she envied the moms who dressed in stretch pants and Keds. She herself cut her own hair, shopped in thrift stores, and made a personality trait out of her super-alternativeness. She was also, at the time, the mother of a small toddler, and pregnant.

"Wouldn't it be nice to just not care anymore?" she said as we drove past one such unhip, uncaring mom pushing a stroller up East John Street. Inwardly, I sort of rolled my eyes at her hipster snobbery. I mean, God, if you have to try that hard to be cool, then aren't you really trying too hard?

(I understood the larger concept, though. I was battling my own issues about becoming a teacher and having to buckle down in grad school. I couldn't even smoke pot anymore, because it was too expensive and it made me too stupid in class the next day. While my friends went to noisy rock shows and my roommate drank $50 bottles of wine, I was reading Piaget, writing papers about multiculturalism, and shopping for my bananas on sale at Safeway.)

Last night, my one question for Neal Pollack was, how do you know when you are just trying too hard and it's time to quit? Sean Nelson, the MC for the evening, beat me to it. During the post-book-reading Nelson/Pollack tete-a-tete, he asked Pollack a related question: Is it even possible to stay cool once you become a parent?

"At a certain point," Pollack admitted, "you just have to throw up your hands."

"And drive the Passat wagon? Metaphorically?" said Sean.

"Not even metaphorically," said Pollack.

Soon the standing crowd of people near the bar turned their attentions to each other. Poor Pollack stood onstage, eyes afire at the crowd's impudence, and interrupted his own story about a holier-than-thou vegetarian mom he and his kid encountered at the LA aquarium to shout, "Hey! Do you guys just want to drink?"

I felt for him. We were in a club, and a band was about to come onstage, and there were alcoholic beverages to imbibe and cute people to look at, and suddenly the whole parenting discussion just wasn't that funny or interesting anymore. And Pollack became just…a dad. Who was coming to realize it was time to get off the stage.

I guess that pretty much answered my question.