Sunday, December 23, 2012

What the hell?

I think I've figured out why the hubby left the permanent birth controlling to me. He has balls the size of coconuts, and damaging them would be like spitting on a national treasure.

4 days ago, I had a tubal ligation and endometrial ablation. Short story, standard laparoscopic incisions and recovery pain, plus equivalent of a second degree burn covering the entirety of the inside of my uterus. Add in a compromised immune system and a two year old who doesn't get why mama is moving slowly, can't pick him up, won't get on the floor to play and keeps saying "be careful!" during schnoooo-goooo (snuggle) time, and you've got a recipe for slow recuperation.

Last night, hubby was bitching about how much work it is to take care of our son, and how we should cancel Christmas, since he hasn't done any shopping. He suggested I take care of the boy while he made a last ditch assault on the mall. I countered that he should call our sitter to come over while he shops.

Time passes, he makes no call, and I suggest again. Excuses and procrastination, so I call the sitter and arrange a time. I purposefully completed my Christmas shopping and gift wrapping in advance of surgery, so I opted to take advantage of help and I laid down to rest while baby boy napped, sitter watched tv and daddy shopped.

Hubby came home, baby boy woke up, and I made my way upstairs. Then hubby informs me since I "wouldn't take care of the boy, I needed to pay the sitter." 1) I CAN'T take care of our son fully right now. I had SURGERY and have restrictions 2) I had to PAY someone to take care of our son, so he could go shopping and complain about how much trouble Christmas is for him?

Balls the size of coconuts. A man possessing normal sized balls would not have the chutzpah to charge me for recuperation time.

Bah fucking humbug.
- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

Sunday, December 2, 2012

"Me Time"

After waking up early with BabyBoy, making him breakfast, and playing for a couple hours, Hubby crawled out of bed.  We took the boy to the zoo for a run in the crappy weather (That sounds like we're taking the dog to the off-leash park, which is kind of exactly how it is).  After the zoo visit, we got some lunch, and I put him down for his nap.

I emptied the dishwasher, setting out bottles, sippy cups, and child plates to air dry, loaded the dirty dishes in, and asked for some "me time" to go to a craft fair at Seattle Center.  A particular vendor was there, and I wanted to take advantage of the show discount to stock up on soap for the shower.  Hubby agreed, and went downstairs to take a nap while BabyBoy slept.

After the craft show, I was walking back to my car in the rain.  I saw an older lady, skipping hand in hand with a young girl who was wearing and elaborate feathered mardi gras mask and a tutu.  They were skipping right through the cross walk, in the pouring down rain.  I wished that my eyes were a camera so I could save that image to share here.  Unfortunately, I can't translate an image from my head to the computer, so this will have to capture the mood.

My first thought was "sometimes I wish I had a little girl", my next thought was "I hope I can still skip when I have a grandchild."  Lastly, I thought "I want to skip with my son in the rain." 

Frivolous part of "me time" was done, so I made the practical trip to the grocery store.  Milk, Toilet paper, food for dinner, and a few other staples for the house were all on the list.  When I got to the checkout stand, I handed the checker my bags.  I had an Oscar the Grouch bag, and a Thomas and Friends bag that happened to be in my car, so that's what I brought in with me. Apparently, I was also wearing my "please poke fun at me" face.  The checker inclined his head toward my bags of groceries and said "You don't get out much, do you?".  He was right, I don't.  I laughed a little ruefully and said "What was your first clue?"  He said "We don't get a lot of Thomas bags on Lower Queen Anne."

When I got home, the dishwasher had finished it's cycle, and the sink was full of dirty dishes.  There was a bag of garbage blocking the door to get into the house, so I took it out to the garbage cans before I could get in, put away the groceries, unload the dishwasher and put the dirty dishes into the machine for the next load.  Hubby and BabyBoy were in the living room, sitting in the middle of a pile of toys, and watching "How to Train Your Dragon" for the third time in 24 hours.  All nice thoughts from 90 minutes to myself were completely washed out of my head by internal grumbling about delayed chores.

I want to skip in the rain, holding hands with my son.  I'm going to hold onto that for tonight.

Monday, November 19, 2012

My pipe dream....

I want a day off, in a hotel, with a huge bathtub. I want a day where there is no laundry, no dishes, no diapers, no ant infestation, and nothing to do but sleep in a huge bed.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Laundry opinion poll

Let's pretend you're doing laundry, which is to say you are sometimes washing dirty clothes, and sometimes drying wet clothes, which you then THROW ON THE FLOOR IN A PILE, mostly because you want to see if your spouses threat of having her "head explode if you don't stop throwing the clean fucking clothes on a pile in the floor" is actually true.

Ok, so, yeah. Doing laundry. And you're folding some laundry because it gives you an excuse to avoid coming upstairs and engaging with the little person who is screaming "BEANS PWEEEEEEEEASE!" at the top of his lungs and kicking the wall while sobbing his angry sobs.

Right. Folding laundry. Then you come across a sock that has no pair. Do you set the sock aside so you have a shot of making a pair when the next load comes out of the dryer? Or throw the now clean sock back into the dirty clothes hamper?

It never ends. Tomorrow is Remicade infusion day and I'm looking forward to it. Not because of the relief that Remicade brings for a few weeks to the arthritis symptoms, but because of the lovely, drugged sleep the IV Benadryl, which keeps my blood pressure from spiking and blowing a hole out my eyeball during the treatment, brings.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad. Fueled by coffee.

Location:NW 87th St,Seattle,United States

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Who'd you fuck to get this job, anyway?

I work in an industry that is predominantly, heavily, overwhelmingly white and male.  Although the face of the people actually MAKING the games has started to change, the common (incorrect) perception is that women in games fall into one of two categories - Marketing or Artist, with a strong skepticism around ability.  As a former Quality Assurance lead and current producer, I've been asked (more than once), "So, who'd you fuck to get this job, anyway?"

My answer is pretty consistent.  It starts with a level, unblinking stare.  "I didn't get here on my back.  And it would you serve you well to remember that for future conversations.  I'm smarter than you know, I have an incredibly long memory, and a low tolerance for people who make assumptions.  Did you have any other questions?"

Success is a hard thing to judge.  I've never wanted to be the talking head behind a podium at industry events.  I don't want to be on the cover of Game Developer Magazine.  I never use the words "Rock-Star" as a preface to my own introduction.  In the Internet meme "Which Muppet are you?" I scored as Scooter.  I'm the competent one behind the curtain, making sure everything gets done.  I'm the Liz Lemon of 30 Rock - all work, no credit, dealing with the Tracy Jordan's of the games industry.  I'm the ego fluffer, the hand holder, the mom that makes sure people eat, the sound of applause, and sometimes I'm the one that says "Gimme a fucking break.  Pull your head out of your ass and get back to work."

In games, the natural path to production is to start in Quality Assurance.  QA is the Ozona, Texas of the games industry.  An armpit that smells bad, wide spot on the map, where your car breaks down on the long drive across I-10, a place you want to get out of as soon as you can.  A place that has an even LOWER ratio of men to women than "real game production".  I worked really hard in QA.  No one helped me out, other than believing that someone with real testing experience would mean more to the team than yet another person who 'just loves playing games'.  That was my lucky break.

Not an actual QA tester - but not far off.
From that point forward, it's been me using my head and paying my dues.  I mixed hard work, passion and pizazz with a refusal to give up.  I became very astute at seeing when the end was nigh, and I left positions before I EVER got laid off, I worked insane hours, traveled the world, and never said "no" - instead I presented options, "That's technically possible, however we will sacrifice x, y and z to accomplish that.  Are you OK with those trade offs?  No?  OK, let's stick with the original plan."

I've never, EVER forgotten that I am one of the lucky ones.  It's very much a sense of "there but for the grace of God go I".  Particularly in Seattle, a town with a high homeless and unemployment rate.    When I throw in a realization of my medical issues, I am constantly grateful that I have a job, I have insurance, and I have a home.  I look at my medical bills and I KNOW that I am two out-of-pocket treatments away from ruin.   I think about the choices I've made, and the turns that life has taken, and I'm glad that I've had the freedom to make the decisions that were right for my life at the time.  One of the most frightening things to me about the thought of Mitt Romney as President is the idea that there is a feasible future without choice in store for so many Americans.

It wouldn't be a rumination from me without a song quote.

Blame it on the television, blame it on the company;  
Don't blame it on the fundamental fact that no one owes you something.  
"I've come about my share, I only want what's fair.  
Anyone who knows me knows that I'm not greedy.  
Like everybody else, I wanna pay my dues.  
(I only want someone to tell me who to make the check out to.)" 
 - "Pike St./Park Slope" Harvey Danger

I don't really tag myself as liberal or conservative, democrat or republican - I think those words have evolved so far from their original purpose and definition that they're not accurate any more.  But I know I want to live in a country where people have a chance to work hard, to realize dreams, and where a misstep or a setback is not the end of their participation in a productive society.  I think of family members who gave time out of their lives to the military, and some who gave their lives to the military.  I don't always agree with what their assignments were, but I am proud that they would be willing to serve.  I want to help build a country where a persons need for basic (and not-so basic) medical care is separated from their ability to pay for medical care.  I want to work in an industry where gender is not an automatic flag that the only way you could be doing the job you have is because you slept with someone to get there.  I want to be treated fairly, paid equally, and doing my part to support the country that's made it all possible.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Rapidly fraying rope

I am at the end of a rapidly fraying rope - it's the one that connects to my deep inner core of strength, and it's not going to hold up.

Monday was MRI day, Tuesday included rhuematologist, infusion therapy, gyn annual visit and chemo drugs. The infusion or the chemo either one would knock me on my ass for 1-2 days separately. The two together have not been treating me well. Today included work panic, primary care visit, and a new ankle brace, all while fighting the urge to throw up in a corner before finding a quiet place to lay down.

I put z to bed around 7:45, and he went down easily, except his reactive airway cough started acting up. Two coughs, 10-15 seconds, 2 coughs, lather, rinse, repeat. I woke him up to give him an albuterol inhaler, which made him very upset. We lay him back down and gave it an hour, no change. SO we got dressed and went to children's hospital.

It's not asthma, his lungs are totally clear and his pulse oxygen levels are strong. He's just.... Coughing. We're under instructions to give him two puffs of inhaler every 4 hours for the next 24 hours. Gotta stay awake until 2 to give him that dose. And here's pro tip #3, it is impossible to give a child an inhaled medication without waking the child.

I want my boy to be feeling better, number one priority. But I sure would like to have the luxury of taking the kind of care of myself that I need to shake the treatment hangover.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad. Fueled by coffee.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Contraindications land.

** Post cleaned up a bit, it was written while heavily medicated. **

To my male readers - girl troubles discussed.  Feel free to skip this one.

I have a variety of health challenges. I much prefer this phrase to a have a lot of health issues.

I have psoriatic arthritis
Irregular/heavy/painful menses
A slowly healing broken ankle

Days like today frustrate and exhaust me. The treatments seem counterproductive to each other, and I'm certain the doctors are not talking to each other. I'm a PERSON with a life, not a medical record number. I need to get that through to them. While the treatment plan may sound like a fine medical experiment, I've got someone depending in me to make the right, semi-informed choices so I can take care of him.

And they're all interrelated and co-depend at on each other. For example, I went to my primary care last week to find out why a 12 week old ankle injury still hurts like it just happened. He sent me off for an MRI, which showed multiple fractures in various stages of healing, repetitive tendon injury and swelling. I already knew all of those things. I also known theirs not much we can do except put the time into letting that heal. (I am also thankful the answer is not "reconstructive surgery".)

Today at the rheumatologist, she reminded me that the primary drug, Remicade, is a TNF blocker and will slow healing, coupled with weekly self administered of methotrexate (a chemo drug used to severely suppress your immune system so other medication can work more effectively) which puts my immune system into a state of remission, so it can't speed up healing. She renewed my prescription of prednisone for swelling and pain and also reminded me that methotrexate can cause out-of-cycle sloughing of the uterine lining, so I may see some break through bleeding. She was adamant. Prednisone for swelling and pain, methotrexate weekly.  Both of those drugs will impact the problems with my menstrual cycle.

I them went for my Remicade infusion, which is coupled with a beautiful 50 mg dose of Benadryl right onto a very effective port-a-Cath, which runs the line into my brachial artery on the left side of the chest. I never count backwards from 20 any lower than 12 before I go sleepy. Today I had my eyes closed at 14.

Between the Remicade infusion and GYN appointment, I went to sleep in my car for an hour. It was warm and cozy, but I couldn't really get to sleep because the wheezing and coughing had started.  My most common side effect from Remicade is a wheezing cough that often times deepens into bronchitis. Tomorrow I check in wih my primary care to find out if my swollen lymph nodes and painful ears are just an infection, and to start monitoring the cough.

The next appointment today was with the GYN. I've been bleeding non-stop since May, with VERY heavy "normal periods" (Normal in the fact that the bad weks are once every 28 days).  Back in May, I discovered my IUD had moved and was in the wrong spot, which started the non-stop bleeding.  That IUD was replaced with a different brand, and it's just been getting worse.  Two periods ago landed me in the emergency room because the heaviness of bleeding and severeness of cramps made me thing I was having a miscarriage. I wasn't,  It was just a side effect from the non-hormonal type IUD that she inserted after having two previous failures with the preferred brand.   Talking with her about other meds, she was adamant "no methotrexate! No prednisone!" We scheduled for a mammogram and switching back to the mirena IUD for ONE LAST CHANCE. If this doesn't work, we explore surgical options. Her confidence is higher than mine. This will be my 4th IUD insertion in less than a year. Maybe I'm just built funny in there.  We also talked about birth control methods - my goals are pretty simple.  1) If I bleed at all, I'd like to have normal 3-5 day periods on a 28 day cycle 2) I do not want to have any more kids.

I also suggested that rheumatologist and gyn get together and talk out a plan for me. It's exactly the reason why I'm in a multiple-speciality, one chart system. Hell, they could invite the hematologist that is following me for anemia (iron) and pernicious anemia (vitamin D) and my primary care, just to make a party out of the whole thing.  I'd bring the cookies!

I realized a long time ago, I am my only advocate, medically. But in a world where I'm living with chronic pain and a debilitating disease that is sucking away my ability to pay attention sometimes, it sure would be nice to think someone has my back.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad. Fueled by coffee

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Parenting Pro tip #2

Not to toot my own horn, but I figure I have to have said at least one insightful thing about parenting at this point. I'll be damned if I can tell you what that ONE THING is, but I believe it's out there.

Tonight, I'm going to share pro tip #2. This falls firmly in the category of laundry - it's not just for moms! Dads can do laundry, too! Are you ready for it?

When you take something out of the dryer, fold it and put it in a place where it will get put away in a timely manner. This might be in a laundry basket, on the bed, or even neatly stacked on the dryer to be carried upstairs the next time you go. Laundry takes a lot less time when you don't let the half-ass attempts pile up to the point of being a fucking disaster.

You will thank me for this, for a couple reasons. 1) nobody likes doing laundry. Showing that you're not just paying lip service to "helping around the house" by actually FINISHING a chore goes a long ways. 2) you will likely not find your wife dead on the laundry room floor, where her brain exploded from a aneurism that could not take the sudden blood pressure spike when she realizes that even though it was your morning to take care of the squid, she BELIEVED YOU when you said you had some stuff to do around the house, like laundry, so couldn't SHE just take the baby with her to the grocery store, violating the only consistent me-time she's had in the last 22 months. (Pro-tip #3: doing the household grocery shopping while the baby (and you) naps is not "me-time" for mommy. You are not fooling anyone, you selfish wanker.)

Three loads of laundry picked up off the floor, folded and put away. Another load done, folded and put away, with one more neatly stacked for morning. An essential load in the dryer (loveys, blankets and clothes for the week at daycare) to fold in the morning, with a load of towels washing away, and one more in the queue just waiting to be finished. Who knows how may additional pro-tips about parenting I'll come up with while faced with the drudgery.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad. Fueled by coffee.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Happy Anniversary

Today is my third anniversary of being married. The requisite roses arrived at work, in my favorite color, and the appropriately romantic cards were exchanged, but it doesn't change the fact that I'm spending the night alone with my son, and I'm not particularly happy about it.

I try very hard to be the sort of equal partner in this relationship that doesn't play tit for tat on having time to yourself. I can think of 2 times where I've said "I'd really rather you don't go out on this night." in a total of 8 years together. I don't crash the boys nights out. When I ask to do things on my own, hubby rarely says no, but he makes the experience of me being away and him being in charge so nerve-wracking that it's often easier to just not try.

For the most part, my "me-time" is accomplished by taking time away from work to do things, like get my hair done or have a manicure. It also includes a day every 5 weeks sedated while I get IV medication to try and control the arthritis. I've booked myself for 3 cooking classes, one each month for the coming three months, 2 hours away from the house during prime-time play time. The other option is that I wait until I've "done my chores" at the house, and got the boy to bed before I go out to meet another mom or two for a drink.

When I make plans for myself, I think it all through, I look at the calendar, I look at how long it's been since the last time I had a night out, and then I ask. "Sweetie, how would you feel about me going to a barbershop chorus guest night next Monday for a few hours?" Or "the community building meeting for our daycare is meeting next Wednesday, can you feed Z and get him down to bed?" I don't assume the answer will be yes.

When my hubby wants to make plans for himself, he send a calendar invite on iCloud. No could you? No would you mind? It's just a statement of what he's doing and I can figure out the details.

Last week on Monday, I got an appointment demand for Tuesday night out drinking with the guys, Wednesday night gaming and another one for the 19th gaming. Now, i checked. Our wedding anniversary is on the shared calendar, right there on the 19th, right where it's supposed to be.

Over dinner he starts talking about how they finally got that second game scheduled, and about how he's looking forward to playing this game with the guys. I told him, "listen, I need to talk to you about that. I'm pretty hurt that you would schedule something like this, something you do alone, on our wedding anniversary."

"Oh shit, yeah, I forgot about that. I know it's some time in September. So are you saying I shouldn't game? It took forever to get this on everyone's calendar..."

A giant part of me wanted to say "that is exactly what I'm saying, thank you very much.", but instead I said "it's ok, we can do something for our anniversary on Friday instead." And pretended like it was no big deal.

Last week, I decided to treat myself, and I put an emergency call into our sitter. "It doesn't matter if it's Tuesday or Wednesday, I just need you to take Z for a few hours. I need a break," I told her. She proposed Tuesday, and I reached out to a friend to see if she could get together last minute. We had a fine dinner, and I drank off some of my resentment, while we talked about how relationships are the hardest work you will ever have to do. It just pisses me off that I accommodate me-time mandate after me-time mandate, while I dance around, asking permission and eventually paying someone to take care of my son.

For my anniversary, I celebrated with my son at Red Robin. We sang "Ram-Sam-Sam" and "Goin to Boston" and a silly song that includes the words "ding dong ding dong", which he pronounces "Ning Nong, Ning, nong". We looked at the sky and talked about how the stars are always there, it's just sometimes the light makes it too bright to see them. Then we went inside, read "Guess How Much I Love You?", turned on the star projection turtle and looked at the green moon on the ceiling. I sang him the song I made up for him about how much the stars and moon love him, and he nodded off to sleep with only one "mama, mo meewk, pweeeease" (mama more milk, please) request.

Also, for my anniversary, I did not empty the dishwasher, I did not fold, wash or dry any laundry, I did not unpack the box of amazon mom delivery items (diapers, wipes, diaper genie refills). Instead I upgraded the OS on my phone and iPad, and played with new features and went to bed early. I hope to be asleep and sprawled in the middle of the bed before my hubby gets home.

I'm looking forward to a night out with him on Friday, but I sure wish there was an "I'm sorry, I'll cancel my thing" as part of the conversation that lead up to this new plan.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad. Fueled by coffee.

The Broken Parts

I've alluded to this a couple of times, but I do my best writing, which is to say my most consistent frequency of writing, when I'm involved in a group setting, with writing prompts and assignments and the knowledge that for this period of time, there are at least 10 people reading, because that's part of their assignment and commitment to the class.  Today is the first day of the new session.

I'm holding down a table at "Conference Room U", the coffee shop across the street from the office, enjoying what is, in my opinion, the best latte in town with my laptop and 55 minutes to be no one other than "The Writer".  "The Producer" can wait until after this block of time.  "The Mommy" can wait a few hours.  For now, I will be the one that writes.

Today's prompt, from Mark Nepo's Facing the Lion, Being the Lion:
"It is important to realize that Ganesh is a god of embodied wisdom who knows the life obstacles of which he is a guardian. He is a god because he has lived through all the world has to offer, not because he transcends it. Often, he holds in his right hand one of his own tusks, which he broke off in a fit of anger and hurled at the moon. But the moon spit it back, and he carries that broken piece of himself as a reminder of the earthly journey that no one can escape."

Start us off easy, why don't you, Nerissa?!?!?  Good lord, I need to be "the writer" AND "face the broken parts"?!?!?

Me and Paul, 2005

A friend of mine took his own life a few weeks ago.  It absolutely devastated me.  We had worked together, and became incredibly close.  We shared the same birthday, we always stood up for each other.  He was my sounding board when things got rough, and I was the same for him.  He loved my little boy, and often referred to him as "the spud".  He believed in me, and I believed in him, despite what other people said.  He lived his life in a bit of a spotlight.  If you did a web search for that public person, you'd see a lot of words to describe him: Hot-headed, outspoken, substance abuse problems, wildly talented, womanizing, misogynistic and I think there was a certain part of him that was so used to those descriptions that he let himself be that person.  I also think there were demons inside him that drove him to not trust in the good parts, and that let his amazing heart, loyalty to friends, sense of humor, and talent be pushed down into the darkness.  And the darkness lied to him, and convinced him that there was no place in the world for him, and now he's gone.

I've been trying to make sense of it, talking to mutual friends, and trying to reconcile the person that I spoke with a few days before he died with someone so desperate to end the pain that he hung himself to find some peace.

In talking with one friend, the subject of the public mask came up.  We talked about how our friend was not really all those things that the Internet says, at least, not inside. But the mask was more comfortable and easier to maintain than it was to let the pain show.  This mutual friend told me "But, then, you know more about living behind a mask than most."

I had to let that sink in, I had to let it roll around in my head and in my heart for a little while before I could accept that he was absolutely right.  I have masks for different occasions, because the person underneath is hurting and raw and far too tender to trust the general populous to treat me kindly.  In an argument a few weeks ago, my husband snarled something about me being "little miss can-do, who never says what she really feels".

It's hard work, being broken.  We all have our personal tusks that we carry in our right hands.  I think the trick is being able to lay it down long enough to hold the ones who love us close and to let that love encompass and balm the hurting spots.

It's no small secret that the Nields music has been the soundtrack to my life, since I first started listening in 1996.  At least once a day, I sing a little bit of one of their songs, as an example of what I'm feeling at that moment.  I've loved each album for it's own reasons, but "The Full Catastrophe" has taken it to a new level for me.  "Your House Is Strong" has become my anthem.  I sing it to my son, I reassure myself with it.

"Our house is strong, and so are you
It's the broken parts that let the light shine through".

I don't know if what's broken can be fixed.  But I believe I can be strong and honest and true, and I want to be the sort of person that will not make excuses for the pain and the darkness.  It is a part of me, a part of this journey, the challenge is in letting my true face show.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Last season, on "Still an Adult".....

It's been far too long since the last post.  I could give 100 reasons why, and they'd all boil down to the same basic excuse.  I haven't made the time for it and I've been struggling in pretty much every area of my life.

Since 'last season', I:
  • Fractured my left ankle. Again.  While breaking my ankle, I also ripped a tendon away from the attach point and am waiting for scheduling of an MRI to figure out exactly how bad the damage seems to be.  This was 10 weeks ago and it's still unstable and painful daily.
  • Sprained my right ankle.  Again.  I ended up just sitting down and crying for a while after that one.
  • Survived a round of huge layoffs at work.  Scope of work has changed drastically, and there is a general sense of jumpiness around the building - we all seem to be waiting for the other shoe to fall.
  • Lost a very dear friend to suicide.  Depression is a horrible, LYING disease that allows our personal demons to get the best of us.  I miss him, every day.
  • Had what was probably the best series of time with my Dad that I can remember in my adult life.  Kids don't fix things, but having a common interest that is a constant source of amusement is a pretty great equalizer.
  • Had my uterus try to kill me, twice.  Popular medical opinion seems to be a combination of cysts, early menopause, and possibly the replacement IUD.  Two months ago, I landed in the ER, thinking I was having a miscarriage because of the amount of bleeding and pain.  GYN appointment next week where we "discuss options".  In the meantime, I'm seriously anemic and running on fumes.
  • Realized that marriage is hard fucking work. (I knew this already).  Hubby and I have been at each other's throats constantly; arguing, resentful, frustrated and just not communicating.  There are days where I refuse to give up, because, well, I refuse to give up.  And then there are the days where I seriously question what I'm trying to save.
  • My son is the most amazing person I've ever met.  He's learning new words every day, and has SUCH a personality.  It is an honor to be sharing his life.
  • I lost my mind a little and had my hair highlighted with pink and purple.  Atomic pink and Pimpin' Purple, to be exact.
  • I reluctantly agreed to speak on a panel at a "women in games" focused industry event.  It went a lot better than I'd anticipated, and I didn't throw up before speaking.  Win!

I keep asking myself the same question - "Why do I write? What do I hope to achieve?" and the answer is always the same.  I'm lonely.  I'm hungry to have a voice that is heard outside of singing the ABC's to my son.  I want to have a tribe.  I want to have a conversation.  But the responsibility for STARTING the conversation falls on me.  I've decided to expand the distribution of new post notification to a wider (but controlled) audience.  I nominally keep this blog anonymous, as I don't want to turn up on search results talking about things like work, abuse, frustration, or depression.

Thanks for reading, and welcome to the "new season", which is a new commitment for more frequent posts and honest conversations with myself, and hopefully with you, as well.

Monday, July 2, 2012

God save me from nights like this.

We are making no forward progress in sleep training our child. In fact, I think we're making backwards progress. On the once a quarter nights where I go out with a girlfirend, I get the text messages that ask things like "Is the bubble bath safe for him to drink?" and "what if he gets some of the lotion in his mouth?" I also get questions about the proper order of sanitary additions. Do you add the Desitin before or AFTER the powder?, with the following second guessing "are you sure this stuff is safe for babies" thrown in randomly for good measure. If my child is asleep at all when I get home, it's never in a position he normally sleeps in, or in a space where he normally sleeps. I found him standing on his feet, bent over double on the ottoman, sound asleep one night. The TV was on full blast, and he was snoring away. There was the evening he pulled the towel off the towel rack and made himself a bed on the bathroom floor.

Worse than finding him asleep in weird positions is finding him NOT asleep at all, and hours pst his bedtime. He's lying on the bed, sobbing, with the occasional primal scream for good measure. He's covered in snot, all hot and sweaty, and completely inconsolable. I have to pull out the big guns for these instances. I warm up the full repertoire of lullabye songs.... I sing him "Easy People", "In the Hush Before the Heartbreak", "The River Shall Rise", "Baby Mine", "Blackbird", "The Tennessee Waltz", "The Rainbow Connection", "The Wurlitzer Prize", "The Long Day is Over", and even the awful song my mom sang me about a dying child "Put My Little Shoes Away". I sing them over and over - my personal best was A 5 time repeat of the full rep before he sacked out.

Tonight is measuring on par with a night where I was not here to put him to bed, except I was. Last night was equally bad, with a slight deviation, Daddy got home before BabyBoy was soundly asleep. He sat straight up, punched me in the cheek bone and said "NO. DAAAAH-DEEEE". It took nearly two ours of squirming, singing and crying last night.

Tonight is shaping up the same - hubby's upstairs, delaying the inevitable where he enters my circle of hell that is playing the sound track of a screaming baby that I don't know how to help. In the meantime, I'm settling down for round 3 of the Tennessee Waltz.

I'm about ready to bundle him in the car for the 17 mile lap I used to take with him when he was a constantly crying baby with gastric reflux. At least he sleeps in the car.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad. Fueled by coffee.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Free to a Good Home....

It's been one of the strangest times in my career, since I started in the games industry in 1999.  I've always been a hot commodity, the one that gets high profile projects, because I can be trusted to get it done, keep the right people in the loop, and to say "NO" when it's needed.  I typically have a backlog of things to do, just waiting for me to have enough time to do them.
Part of the weirdness has been around a reorganization from one big happy studio family with a pool of people and managers that are responsible for specific disciplines (Programmers, Artists, Producers, Designers, QA) to silo'd franchise groups, where the management is responsible for building cross-functional teams that encompass all disciplines.  Those managers still report in to the same higher structure, but from a peon's perspective, it sure doesn't seem like they are talking to each other that much.
I love being busy.  I love having multiple projects on the burners at once.  I love feeling like I am an integral part of a healthy, functioning team.  Right now, I'm helping out on special projects, and I have one game that is drawing to a close as my work.  The conversations around "What's next" have been going on since March, and it's starting to get to me, mentally.
I wrote a sales pitch to send around to the management team and decided it tells enough of a story of what I do, that I'd share it here.  (sanitized company name and project name)  It's mind-blowing to me that I have to sell myself this hard at a company I already work at.... but at the same time, sometimes it's nice to revisit what I believe makes me tick.
Hi All:
Have you recently had a situation where you’ve thought to yourself “it would be so great if we could only do xyz on this project, but WHO WILL MANAGE IT?”  Do you have a short or long term need for a project manager with a ‘take-no-prisoners’ attitude, and a commitment to details?  Are you working on integration of a parent company (or partner) brand, and you just wish there was someone on your team with a long history of navigating the murky waters of approvals, integration, and last-minute changes?  Is the majority of your time spent on the big-picture with no time left for the day-to-day work of monitoring the pulse of your project? Are you at that point where it’s time to ship it and you need a leader who knows how to motivate, lead from the center of the action, and takes pride in getting it done?

HAVE I GOT AN ANSWER FOR YOU!  That’s right, it’s ME!

As projects draw to a close, and changes are happening in the individual franchises, I wanted to reach out and see if there are areas where I can help YOU with the needs of the individual projects for our company.   No job is too small, no job is too tall.  

I am:
  • (Not an actual Zombie)
    A people-focused project manager with a love for making games.   
  • Passionate about working with a team to create AWESOME products, while sustaining a pace and quality of life that supports the company's core values.
  • Not afraid to get my hands dirty in the trenches.   
  • A voracious consumer of casual games content.
  • In possession of the following super powers: directness, common sense, and an uncanny ability to get sh*t done.

My satisfaction comes from helping a team see projects through to completion, and helping their creative dreams make it out to the big world.  I have extensive experience in making branded products, with a significant portion of my career invested in shipping Hasbro branded projects, as well as creating adver-games for companies like Unilever, Chrysler, and Visa.   I’ve also worked with Warner Brothers, DreamWorks, Nickelodeon, HIT Entertainment, Johnny Wright Productions (*N’SYNC), Horn Abbott, and Mattel to deliver interactive products that are true to their respective brands.  Between time in QA and time as a producer, I’ve been directly responsible for 40 projects, with credits in over 100 games

Here at our company,  I’m currently working on finalizing some dangling details on the current iOS project.  Earlier this year my team shipped this iOS game, and I also managed the updates to our two most recognizable brands world-wide to have functioning product on the launch date of Lion OS last fall.  In the last 8 years as a producer,  I’ve managed internal teams, external teams, licensor approvals, multiple outsource resources, voice-over direction, done guerilla QA testing, written design documents, made a little (bad) art, and done a little programming.  Outside of work,  I’m a proud mom, wanna-be writer, musician, uuber-nerd, smack-dab in the middle of our target audience, and a controlled force of nature. 

Feel free to poke around my linkedin profile, read my recommendations and do not hesitate to let me know if you have needs for your franchises.   I’m not afraid to work hard, I own it when I make mistakes, and I never ask a team to do what I’m not willing to do myself.  I look forward to making YOUR life easier, while working together to make great products that we can all be proud of.

Best Regards –

Trivial Pursuits

As mentioned in a previous post, once upon a time, I produced a Trivial Pursuit game for PC, Xbox and PS2.  My brain holds onto a lot of bits of information from that project, I proof read, verified sources, and edited thousands of questions by the time the project was done.  One of the best parts of the project is that I sourced and directed a set of celebrities to read the questions for each category.

One of the celebrities we hired was John Cleese, and he opted to read the History category.  I sent the script off to his agent, and went into the recording session in Santa Barbara feeling prepared for the experience.  I should add, this is the FIRST voice recording session I ever directed.

As we were going through the session, John was getting more and more annoyed with the topics of the questions.  Apparently, John Cleese used to teach history at a prep school in England, and he felt that we were mis-representing current events as History.  He was right, it was America focused, and not deep history, our goal was to create a game where the average 30-40 year old American SHOULD know the answers to the questions.

Less than an hour into the session, he was visibly agitated, and I don't even remember the question that put him over the top.  All I know is this was my first ever voice recording session, and the talent looked at me through the glass, called me an 'illiterate con-artist' and stormed out of the studio.

I looked at my co-worker, and said "Oh shit.  What do I do now?"

"Get him back!  GO! GET HIM BACK!"

So, I went.  John was getting into his car and I started explaining what the goal of the game was, and how we arrived at the content that we did.  He said he understood that, but that I shouldn't call it 'history'.  I explained that we didn't actually CONTROL that nomenclature, Trivial Pursuit is a branded product, and the brand owners defined it, and that they had approved the content.  Finally, I closed it, like any good used car salesman would, I asked him the action question.

"What would it take to get you back behind the microphone, Mr. Cleese?" I asked, with my best, most charming smile.

"Five Thousand Dollars", he replied.

I quickly ran some budget numbers in my head, and thought of what my boss would say if I came back to tell him I'd lost John Cleese while standing outside the studio in downtown Santa Barbara.

"DONE.  Let's get back to work"

I went back into the studio, and sat behind the control board.  My hands were shaking and I was actually seeing little black spots.  I pretended to be pulling something out of my bag while I took a few deep breaths with my head down near my knees.  I realized I was actually going to throw up, so I spun my chair around and grabbed a garbage can.  I discreetly dry heaved into a garbage can while my co-worker and the studio rep looked on.  Then I wiped my mouth, grabbed my water, took a deep drink and spun back around.

"Alright, John.  Are you ready to get started?" I asked through the communication system.

We finished out the day, I got what I needed, and I put a call into my legal group to amend the contract to include an additional $5,000 talent fee.  The next day I was driving down to San Diego for a lunch date with a friend.  My cell phone rang, and I answered it.  It was John Cleese.

"Hello, I wanted to talk to you for a moment.  I believe I owe you an apology.  My wife and I were drinking some wine last night, and she reminded me that it's called 'trivial pursuit', not 'important pursuit'.  I shouldn't have called you names and stormed out, that was unprofessional of me."

I reassured him that I understood his frustration, and very much appreciated the follow up call.  Then he got to what, I believe, was the REAL reason for the call.

"I was wondering, can you treat the additional money as 'expert consultation' or something like that?  I'd rather not pay my agent fees on the additional money." He was very matter-of-fact about the request, and I am such a people-pleaser-person that I really wanted to be able to honor his request.

"I'm so sorry, John.  I can't do that.  I've already had my legal amend the contract and it went out to your agent this morning."  I really was sorry, I wanted him to continue acting like he liked me!

"Well then," he replied, curtly.  "Very well.  Goodbye."

One of my first bosses in the industry once told me this bit of wisdom.  "We make games.  No one dies.  You can't eat your liver over it."

As I've been struggling with getting my next project lined up, and dealing with self-esteem issues around feeling unwanted because I haven't figured out where I can best be effective at my job, (not to mention my insecurities about motherhood) I am reminding myself that creating entertainment is truly a trivial pursuit.  The important stuff is outside of these walls, just there waiting for me.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Finding my voice. The story of the Armadillo

I am writing with a wonderful group of writers via tele-class once a week (Hi writers!)  We had a homework assignment last week, and I've decided to incorporate that assignment with tonight's post.  The week is shaping up to be a little nutty, and I need to take advantage of the time that's available to me right now.

My assignment:
I'd like everyone to write a short piece, either as a post or just an email to the group. Think of one small piece of information you'd like to share with the world, one tiny insight. Then, in a paragraph (maybe 2 if need be) with clarity, brevity, wit and your own best voice, deliver the piece of information. (This might be harder than it seems!)

Over the years, as I've got to know myself better, and to know my father better, I have learned that I have the soul of a storyteller, and that I came by it honestly from my Dad.  A few years ago, I had the privilege of working with a game development studio based in Santiago, Chile.  The travel was exhausting, I flew to South America from Seattle for one week of each month for a period of 13 months.  I narrowly missed riots and protests on the occasion of the hospitalization and death of Pinochet, and I watched the 2007 riots on the "Day of the Young Combatant" from my hotel room.

On one trip, my business associate, Tiburcio was telling me about his life growing up on a cattle farm in Argentina.  One of his favorite past-times was to chase armadillos, killing them for the shell, which could be used to make a bowl, or strung with strings to make an impromptu guitar.  Tiburcio spoke with heavily accented, but very good English.  He rarely used contractions and would sometimes pause to cull his memory for the correct word in English.  A small group had been drinking a fine organic red wine on a visit to the Colchagua Valley wine region when he told me this story.

"Armadillos, they run very fast, and they have the long.... CLAWS."  He made a gesture with his hands, curling fingers into cat claws.

"They live in holes, and if they get inside the hole and spread their claws, the only way to get them out is to stick your finger in their, how do you say it?"  The claws changed to a poking finger, jabbing in the air.  "Asshole.  Once you do that, they go 'whooop' and retract their claws and you can pull them out."

I interrupted.  "TIBURCIO! Armadillos carried LEPROSY from South America to North America and they can pass it to humans!  Plus, they have huge claws!  Why on EARTH would you stick your finger in it's ass?  You should use a stick or something!"

My boss interrupted me and said "How in the HELL do you know that about Armadillos?"

"I produced a Trivial Pursuit game with 5,000 new questions in 2001.  I am FULL of useless information," I replied.  "Back to the Armadillo.  Seriously, why not use a stick?"

Tiburcio looked at me, very earnestly, and said "It is very dangerous to run with a stick."

I opened my mouth for a retort.  Then I closed it again.  I opened it one more time and said, "I guess that's fair."

Sometimes, when things start to feel a little out of control, I just remind myself, "It is very dangerous to run with a stick."  Things could be worse, I could have my finger in an armadillos asshole.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


I started out writing a completely different blog post over lunch yesterday.  It was a post complaining about the onset of the "Terrible Twos" (which I don't actually believe are a thing, I think each new phase is defined by how you choose to handle it, not some magic number of months on the earth), with a dose of whining about my Hubby thrown in for good measure.  But yesterday life popped up and bit me in the ass, and has left me in a state of worry that overshadows the temper tantrum BabyBoy threw on Sunday afternoon.

For my male readers, I'd like to warn you, I'm going to talk about my lady-bits now.  Feel free to tune out if you so choose.

After BabyBoy was born, we had some decisions to make.  Pregnancy was NOT easy on me, my psoriatic arthritis did not go into remission, I had gestational diabetes, and we beat some odds around genetic makeup and age factors.   I had to wean him from breastfeeding much earlier than I'd planned or hoped in order to go back on biologic medication to control the arthritis, and we added a chemotherapy drug, methotrexate, to the treatment to try and further suppress my immune system to keep my body from destroying itself.   Risk of pregnancy complications and birth defects with this medication meant we were making a conscious decision that said "no more babies."  I would have to be off meds for 18 months before even trying to get pregnant again, which would put me firmly in the over-40 club, and I had no idea how I would be able to keep up and take care of a toddler during the time without medical intervention.

I started with Depo-provera shots at 6 weeks after giving birth, and once we decided we would not be having more kids, I switched to an IUD, good for five years.  I actually never resumed a normal menstrual cycle between breast feeding and hormone based birth control.  This has been a good thing for my anemia.  I've had some spotting, a day here, a day there, but nothing major over the past year.

Until last week.  I started bleeding, rather heavily.  I let it go through the long weekend thinking "this will stop any minute now."  Yesterday morning, I called my GP and explained what was going on.  They asked that I come in that afternoon, better to check it out than not.

We went over the basics.  Had this ever happened before? (no) When was the last time we had sex? (last week)  Was it 'normal' sex or 'vigorous sex'? (it was 'shhh, the baby's sleeping sex.  I guess that's 'normal'), Is there any pain currently? (yes).  My doctor had me gown up, and we proceeded to a pelvic exam.

Pretty much the last thing you want to hear your doctor say while wiggling your uterus around from the inside is "Hmmmmmm.  I think we need to do an ultrasound and some blood work."

We went over the list of possibilities: absolutely nothing wrong, pregnancy, ovarian cyst, endometriosis, cancer.

"Cancer." I said, flatly.

"It's a possibility.  I don't think it's a high probability, but it's a possibility."  I love my doctor for his thoroughness, his honesty and his compassion, but that was not a possibility I wanted to hear.

I went off to the lab for blood work and urinalysis, and scheduled the ultrasound for this afternoon.  Hubby and I were talking over dinner, and he latched onto a different possibility than I did.

"What are you going to do if you're pregnant?" he asked.

"I'm still trying to wrap my head around 'who raises my son if I die of ovarian cancer?', I haven't even begun to think about pregnancy.  Let me have one freak out in my head at a time, please." I answered.

I have a plaque in my kitchen.  It says "Worrying does not empty today of it's trouble, it empties tomorrow of it's strength" - Mary Engelbreit.  It is so true.  Neither of us slept well last night, I spent most of it watching BabyBoy's sleeping face and trying not to think of not being here to see him grow up.  But I can't borrow time against that possibility.  I have to find a way to be present in the moment instead of worrying what the next days will bring.

And while I'm at it, I will add this sentiment.  This is a picture of a cross-stitch sampler I made for a friend last year, when she was dealing with her own diagnosis.

For today, I choose to occupy my own life.  I choose to occupy my own mind.  I will leave tomorrow to it's own devices, it will come soon enough.

SUPER FAST UPDATE 5:08 PM: I have to run get my boy, but did want to say test results came back negative for abnormal cells, infection, STD's and pregnancy.  Ultrasound revealed a rather large fibrod cyst and that my IUD has "gone on a walk-about" and is no longer in the right place.  (sort of a miracle I'm NOT pregnant.....)  Next steps include IUD removal and discussion of cyst treatment (if any) and decisions on the right kind of birth control moving forward.  Hello relief!

Friday, May 25, 2012

Plague Baby

BabyBoy is sick.  We're not quite sure what he has, other than a "fever of unspecified origin, with suspected Roseola".  Today starts the third day of fever, and if it IS roseola, this would be the last day of fever, then we'll enter the rash phase.  I've forced the issue and Hubby and I are splitting the time taking care of him at home, since we can't take him to daycare until he's been 24 hours without a fever.

I'd like to stop and take a moment to pat myself, and my genetic contribution to BabyBoy's immune system, on the back.  My "spunky immune system" (rhuematologists phrase, not mine) causes me a lot of grief, my body is trying to eat itself, starting in the joints, and I am on a vigorous medication regimen to try and slow that down.  Even with being in a constant state of immuno-suppression, I rarely get sick (but when I do, I tend to get REALLY sick).  BabyBoy has had a number of ear infections that seem to be more related to physiology than to immunology, but all in all, he's a healthy little dude.
All eyes in a pale face. 
Also, he's sitting in a box.

Begin Rant.....
Last Sunday, a friend came over with his 13 month old to hang out with Hubby and BabyBoy while I went out to lunch and SAW A MOVIE with a girlfriend from work.   The played as toddlers do, passing toys back and forth, then passed out in BabyBoy's crib for a nap together.  On Monday, we got an e-mail: "Oh, I forgot to mention, our kid was running a fever yesterday - he just had a febrile seizure with a high fever, and the doctor thinks he has roseola."

Answer me this, internets.  WHO the FUCK brings a sick kid with a fever over to play?  As much as daycare rules annoy me when I get hit with them, they're there for a reason.  "24 hours without medication and without evidence of fever above 100 accompanied by: diarrhea or vomiting, earache, headache, signs of irritability or confusion, sore throat, rash, fatigue that limits participation in daily activities." Do I have to start requiring a doctor's note for playdates?

The thing that really chaps my ass is that this is not the first time this parental unit has brought plague-baby over to interact with others.  Does anyone remember the great stomach flu of 2011?  Yep. Plague-baby started that one too.  Oh, and it's the same couple that criticizes other parents on sleep-training and nutrition.
End Rant.

I should look at this as a positive, right?  Each infant sickness that he has builds his immune system and (theoretically) means one less cold/flu/infectious disease later.  I just hate that he's sick, and I can't help him, other than to administer Tylenol, cuddle him, make sure he drinks, and try to force food into his no-appetite mouth.  Yesterday I think he ate two pieces of apples, 3 french fries and two slices of mandarin oranges total, which is the complete opposite of our normal hoover-it-down-not-picky eater.

Not even mac and cheese balls could entice him to eat more!

Night time seems to be the worst for the fever.  Wednesday night he topped out at 103.3, last night it was 104.3.  I cradled his strong little body that was radiating SO much heat and waited for the Tylenol to work, while contemplating the best way to commit mariticide on my soundly asleep and snoring loudly husband, and I tried not to worry to much. 

My Mama used to sing a lullaby to me, best I can figure, it's a slightly lyrically-changed version of  a ballad written in 1873 called "Put My Little Shoes Away" .  I sing it to BabyBoy, because it's one of the few pieces of her I have left, but at the same time, it's a really shitty song to sing to a kid, sick or not.  I don't sing it to him when he's sick, it puts too much worry into my head and heart. 

Repeat after me: "We're entering day three of fever.  This will be done soon, he'll be fine, and we'll have a nice long weekend together."

Wednesday, May 23, 2012


The last week has been insanely frustrating as a parent.  Today, one of BabyBoy's teachers made a comment to me.  She said "He's really left all vestiges of babyhood behind.  He's a full-on toddler now!"  I said, "That's not exactly a compliment, is it?"  She laughed and said, "No, not exactly."
Perhaps I didn't make myself clear.   I. Said. No.

Naps are a struggle, bedtime is a full-on war - I have the bruises to prove it.  He's biting, throwing punches, kicking, and has started to utter the dreaded word: "NO!"  He also likes to take things and shriek "mine, Mine, MINE!"  He's been tugging at his ears like he'd like to pull them off his head and I've had him into the pediatrician twice to make sure it's not yet another ear infection.  (It's not).  He's working on the canine teeth on the top, one has poked through and the other is a swollen, irritated lump on his gum.  He gnaws on things and drools constantly.

The worst for me, is the clinging, sobbing drop-offs at school.  He cries like he's being abandoned, reaching for me and calling "Mama, MAMA!"  When we walk in the door, the screams if I try and put him down, and if I manage to get him off of me, he goes limp on the floor and sobs.  I've been trying to be patient, and to allow some extra time where I can sit with him, play with toys, and reassure him that it's FUN to be at school, but I'm not sure if I'm actually helping or making things worse.

He acts a little shy and clingy with Hubby, but nowhere near where he is with me.  It's that way at home, too.  He wants to see Daaah-eee, and play with him, but when the rubber meets the road, it's the Mama-way or the highway, accept no substitutes.

Singing to him last night, I changed the words to the "Tennessee Waltz".

I was dancing, with my Mama
to the Tennessee Waltz
When my Dad tried to take me away.
I said "No thank you" to my Daddy
and held on to my Mama
'cause sometimes a guy just needs his mom.

I love that he likes to be near me.  I love that sometimes just the sound of my heartbeat and me singing to him is enough to calm him down.  But he likes to sit on my lap while I go to the bathroom, and I could really use some space these days.  Someone please reassure me that this is a phase and it will pass?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Are you mom enough?

Dear Time Magazine:

It hasn't been a great week in motherhood for me.  You see, I have a chronic and degenerative disease that impacts my life every day.  Some days, I just deal with the fact that I live in a cocoon of pain, and other days I get lost in it.  This week, I have been devoured by the pain in my own body, and that's not left a lot to give anyone else; this includes my husband, my son, my job, and my own sanity. 

Yesterday, I was scheduled for an intravenous medication infusion to treat this disease.  I fought my way up the stairs, carrying my son, while biting my lip and praying under my breath that my knees would hold out to get him to the top of the stairs without dropping him.  He's 18 months old, and is really pushing to find his own boundaries in this world.  He has no real concept of how to manage his own emotions, and has been having flares of temper and frustration that come out like tantrums.  It was just one of those mornings where he wanted to push at the limits.  While I was changing his diaper, he stuck one hand in his own mess and planted it on my chest.

I burst into tears.  I lost my temper.  I yelled at him, saying,  "JUST LOOK WHAT YOU'VE DONE."  I took my shirt off and threw it on the ground, cleaned up his hands, and cried through changing his diaper.   Then I put him in his crib and I walked into the bathroom, sat down on the toilet, and put my head in my hands and sobbed.  He cried from his crib, and I cried in my hands, and I said to myself "I AM A HORRIBLE MOTHER."  At that moment, I hated him for not cooperating.  And I hated myself for not being able to deal with this new phase.  I hated the pain in my body, and I hated that I have no control over it.

After I calmed down a little, I went and got him.  I hugged him and said "I love you, I'm sorry" over and over.  I got him dressed for school and let him play in his room a bit while I finished getting ready.  It was Daddy's day to take BabyBoy to school, and I walked them to the door.  BabyBoy put both hands on my cheeks and offered up his face for a kiss. 

"Baaah-Bye Mama!", he said, cheerfully.  I started crying again.  "Jesus, what is WRONG with you?", my husband asked.

"I"m a horrible mom.  I don't deserve him being so sweet to me when I lost my temper and yelled at him and, and..." words turned into sobs as I leaned my head against his shoulder.  Hubby patted me and said "I can't do anything about this right now, you're not a horrible mom, but we have to go."

I waved goodbye, and sat on the couch to cry some more.  I finally pulled myself together and got in the car, to hear a discussion about your latest cover story "Are you Mom enough?" about attachment parenting, breast feeding, and complete with an incendiary cover photo of a three year old standing on a stool, breastfeeding from a cute, young mom in skinny jeans.

Thank goodness, Alien Mom is Mom Enough.

If I had to classify myself as a mother, I would say yes, I am a believer in attachment parenting.  But here's the thing, my body, my disease did not allow me to be the kind of attachment parent I wanted to be.  I couldn't wear my son in a sling because I have 4 vertebra that are fused together from degeneration caused by arthritis in my back.  I wanted to breast feed him until he self- weaned, but I couldn't because I had to wean him at 4 months in order to go back on medication that would at least prevent further damage from occurring, even though it can't give me back mobility or pain-free movement.  Each time I've had to make a decision that's prioritized my own health and longer term prospects ABOVE the way I want to mother my son, I've gone through a period of beating myself up over it.

Basically, my first reaction is to say, "Hey, fuck you Time magazine.  Who are you to call me into question?  Who are you to put me and my decisions up against other mothers and make it some sort of competition?"

After a good nights sleep, and the beginnings of some pain relief after yesterdays treatment, I'm still pretty mad at you.  Even without extenuating circumstances (And let's face it, we all have extenuating circumstances), being a mother is really hard work. 

Instead I will say, "You know what, Time magazine?  I'm not perfect, but I'm doing the best I can.  I fuck up on a regular basis, but my little boy still kisses me and smiles and it's like Christmas morning.  I can't carry him in a sling, but I can teach him to be strong and to stand up.  I can't nourish him from my body, but I can teach him to be loving and care for others.  And I can support my sister-mothers through their own struggles."

So, in answer to your question, Yes.  I am MORE than enough, in my own way. 


Not Perfect

P.S. - Fuck you, Time Magazine

Thursday, March 29, 2012

A request from the Laundry Fairy....

Dear Hubby:

As with many things in our day-to-day life, laundry has stages. It has phases. It is not complete until all the phases are done. Let's explore this together, shall we?

1) Dirty clothes get sorted
2) Dirty clothes of like types get put into the washer 

3) Detergent is added
4) The washer gets started
5) The now-clean clothes get moved to the dryer 

6) Dryer gets started
7) Clean clothes are removed from the dryer
8) Clean clothes are folded
9) Clean clothes are put away

I'm feeling generous.  Let's codify #9.  You put away your own clothes, I'll put away my clothes and BabyBoy's clothes, I have a "system" when it comes to his stuff, constantly cycling out outgrown and in new things that were bought on sale and off-season.  It's not reasonable for me to expect you to understand that system.  

What is not optional:
Number 5: If the clean clothes do not get moved to the dryer, followed by #6, then the clothes get stinky and mildewy and we have to start this all over. Do not skimp on #5.

The continued complete breakdown of #7 and #8: You cannot say you "did the laundry" if you remove the clean clothes and throw them on the floor in a pile. Got it? That is not "DOING THE LAUNDRY". That may be washing the clothes, or putting them in the dryer, but a pile on the floor is more work for me. Don't do that.

The Laundry, Dirty Dishes, Run the Dishwasher, Take the Garbage out, Cook the Food, Clean the Kitchen, Empty the Diaper Genie Fairy 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

He WHAT?!?!

Last Sunday, I was putting away laundry upstairs while Hubby and BabyBoy were downstairs.  I heard a THUD, followed by a wailing cry from BabyBoy and hubby called out for me to hurry downstairs.

I rushed down the staircase (Somehow managing to NOT brain myself on the low ceiling on the way down) to find my son, bleeding profusely from his toe, with a cordless drill on the ground and the power pack for the drill  to the side.  Hubby was holding the boy, trying to comfort him.  The minute BabyBoy saw me, he cried "MAAAAMAAAAA!" and reached for me.

I scooped him up, and put pressure on his bleeding toe.  "What HAPPENED?"

"Well, he somehow managed to disconnect the battery pack from the cordless drill and dropped it on his toe." Hubby replied.

"What the FUCK was he doing with the cordless drill in the first place?" I hissed in reply.

"Well, he wanted it.", he explained rather lamely.

"I've asked for a pony every year for my birthday since I could TALK and I don't have one yet.  You don't give him everything he WANTS!"

Complete tone of voice shift,  "Let Mama see, sweetie, let me see your toe." BabyBoy was already calming down from the nearness of the familiar.  While it was bleeding a lot, it didn't seem to be fatal.  The weird hoof-like edge of his big toe nail was gone, and there was a small cut at the end of the toe, but he was tolerating pressure well, it wasn't bruising, and I could wiggle it with no pain response from him.

"Particularly not POWER TOOLS!" I turned my back, shaking my head.  How is this something I need to explain to another adult?

"I don't think it's broken.  We'll see how he walks when he's calm enough to try." I sat down in the rocking chair and snuggled my baby close.  We've had a relatively small number of accidents that make him bleed - I can only think of one toenail trim gone awry in the first week, and once where he sat down hard and bit his lip.  This was definitely our first 'stupid accident, baby got hurt' experience.

Hubby came over with tears in his eyes "I didn't think he'd get hurt.  I feel bad he hurt himself."

"He's ok.  I know we need to let him explore.  You didn't mean for him to get hurt.  He's ok."  I was reassuring us both out loud.  I needed to NOT continue to beat Hubby up about it, he needed to hear BabyBoy was ok, all three of us needed to calm down and breathe for a minute.

I fashioned a spectacular end-of-toe bandage out of cut down gauze pad and medical tape, and there are no apparent long-lasting ill effects.  It will be interesting to see how his weird toenail part grows out, but since it hit the tip and not the nail bed, I'm hopeful he won't have an odd-ball big toe for the rest of his life.  In the meantime, power tools get put away when we're done using them, instead of left on the floor.

Now.  Where's my fucking pony?

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Spa Day

I have a tradition - when I ship a product, I take a day off work and spend it at an amazing local spa, Olympus Spa.  Olympus is different from any other spa I've been to - it's a Korean women's spa where they offer a variety of traditional Korean treatments as well as the more traditional spa services.  There is a large communal pool area, with a variety of temperature soaking pools where clothing is prohibited.  I spend at least the first 20 minutes giggling to myself and thinking "SHE'S NAKED!" before that becomes a part of the experience that I don't notice.

For this product ship, I booked a massage, full body scrub, and a moisturizing treatment.  It's been a pretty wet and cold winter in Seattle, and I was really looking forward to a day of being warm and relaxed.  My Mother in Law was scheduled to arrive Friday evening, and I had a long weekend of playing host ahead of me.

I arrived feeling pretty shitty.  BabyBoy was home sick with pink eye, a PENIS INFECTION and an ear infection and I was feeling like a selfish, bad mom for leaving him.  It took me a while in the massage to start to relax and feel like I was really there for ME.  One of the things I've found incredibly effective during a day at Olympus is that I assign the stresses that have built up, the demons that haunt me, and the people that have pissed me off to different parts of my body.  I also give the good things, the things that I want to nourish body parts, and as I move through different treatments, I give myself permission to let go and I also choose what I'm going to hold close to hold me over until the next time.

First up was the massage.  It was a perfectly nice, not long enough massage.  I think she could have devoted the whole hour to my neck muscles and the tension in my jaw, no one part of my body felt like it got enough work, but it was a good start to the day.  After the massage, I grabbed my phone to check in on BabyBoy, and I went into the Mud/Jade energy room.  They have 7 different far-infrared heated (or cooled) rooms, each based on a different earth element, and each with different properties.  The Mud/Jade room is heated to 170 degrees, and the floor and walls contain dry mud, jade, rose quartz, aventurine, aquamarine and germanium, which are though to promote blood circulation and release the toxins that are located within the body.  It's the hottest room there, and after 11 minutes I felt like I was actually WARM for the first time in months.   Afterwards I jumped into the Evlan stone reading room to flip through a magazine for a few minutes before I went into the cafe for lunch.

I made a critical error in ordering the yakisoba for lunch, it had a lot of broccoli in it, which is a proven cause of massive flatulance for me.  It was tasty, and I didn't even give the fart potential a thought when I ordered it, regret came later.  They also made me a lovely hot tea, which was simply hot water, honey and ginger pieces.  I read for a bit, and enjoyed my lunch before heading into the pools for the naked portion of the day.  I made one last text check-in with Hubby, BabyBoy was sound asleep for his nap and doing fine, and I finally let go of the voice inside that was calling me a selfish, bad Mommy and decided to enjoy the rest of the experience.

Photo from Olympus Spa Press Kit
Before a scrub, you have to soak for an hour, with at least the last 15 minutes of it being in a 104 degree pool.  I showered first and then poured some hot mugwort tea all over my body for the detoxification benefits before heading into the wet sauna.  Wet sauna, 104 degree pool, 60 degree plunge (OH GOD THAT'S COLD!), then into the 97 degree pool for more soaking before my scrub technician came looking for me to order me into the 104 degree pool for the last 15 minutes before we got started.  Her name was Sunny, and I was calling her "Sunny the sadistic scrub technician" in my head by the end of the afternoon.

During the soaking, I tried hard not to stare. It was busy for a weekday, and I am a bit voyeuristic by nature.  I've always loved watching people, making up stories for the lines on their faces, and watching how they move and interact with others.  Women of all shapes and sizes were there.  Tattoos, scars, mastectomies, beautiful young girls, "less than ideal" bodies (my own included) - it was a day where everything seemed to be represented.  I wondered about their own personal journeys and the roads that brought each of them there on that day.  I thought about my own marks and scars and I wondered if any of them were wondering about me as well.  It's always a treat to go to the spa with a friend, but I love the days there by myself, as well.  I like letting my mind wander without the pressure of conversation.  I watched small groups of naked woman, chatting around the mugwort trough like it was a table at a cocktail party.  I watched women that were there alone like me, relaxed with their heads tipped back and their eyes closed, and I let my mind go where it will.  I was safe, I was warm, and I was wrapped in the womb-like relaxation of the water.

In Gloria Steinem's first book, Outrageous Acts and Everyday Rebellions, she includes an essay, "In Praise of Women's Bodies," which describes a few days at an old-fashioned women's spa. "Gradually, skinny bikinis, queen-size slips, girdles and other paraphernalia begin to disappear from our bodies and our lockers, like camouflage in a war we no longer had to fight. Without those visual references, each individual woman's body demands to be accepted on its own terms. We stop being comparatives. We begin to be unique. I know that fat or thin, mature or not, our bodies wouldn't give us such unease if we learned their place in the rainbow spectrum of women. Even great beauties seem less distant, and even mastectomies seem less terrifying, when we stop imagining and try to see them as they really are."

Photo from Olympus Spa Press Kit
Sunny came for me.  We went into the scrub area, where I started out face down on a plastic covered table, head pillowed on a towel, and she asked if I had any skin sensitivities.  I told her that I have a fair number of moles/freckles and that the raised ones are sensitive, but otherwise, I was fair game.  She took me seriously and started in, armed with nothing more than scrubby mitts and some Dial soap.  As she started working, I thought about the different body parts and the failings they represented in my mind.  She worked to slough off the dead skin and I let those negative thoughts go down the drain with the dead skin.  She did two complete passes with me face down, then two complete passes on each side, and then two complete passes with me on my back.  By the second pass in each position, I was gritting my teeth at the line between "that hurts so good" and "OK, that HURTS." As she rinsed off the dead skin with hot hot water, it stung and smarted on the new skin.

Instead of focusing on the way things were hurting, I tried to focus on the voices in the water.  I could hear the murmur of people talking in the pools, I could hear the voices in the running water.  I could hear my mothers voice in there somewhere, the voice of my best friend, the voices of other wonderful supportive women in my life.  To me, it sounded encouraging and loving.  They were encouraging me to let go of the things that don't matter and to focus on the things that do.  My husband, my boy, the love that surrounds me if I would only let it sing.

On the final pass while on my back, I was also quite distracted by a mounting urge to fart.  Damned broccoli!  I cannot think of a worse possible location for this urge - I'm wet, laying on a plastic table in a tiled room.  There was no chance that I could pull it off without being noticed.  I lost my feeling of zen, I lost the voice of my mother, and my brain chanted "don't fart.  don't fart.  don't fart."  I'm sure I would be neither the first nor the last person have an ill-timed passing of the gas, but I didn't want to be that person on that day.

Sunny the Sadistic Scrub Technician turned me loose to use the restroom and instructed me to wait in the dry sauna until she came for me for the moisturizing treatment.  I trotted off as fast as my arthritic ankles would let me to the restroom to relieve my urge to flatulate, and then I went to the dry sauna, as instructed.

Sunny came for me, and we repeated the face down position for the moisturizing treatment.  For this part of the day, I focused on the positive.  I gave each area of my body a positive thought that I wanted to hold close to my skin, one that I wanted to lock in with each moisturizing .  Sunny started with my toes, working through to finger tips, first with warm olive oil, followed by warm milk, and finished with honey.  The final step on the back was scalding hot towels to take away the stickiness of the honey before I flipped over to my back to repeat the process on the front.

The front half included a mini-facial with olive oil based cream and ICE COLD mashed cucumber, which sat while the rest of the body got the same olive oil, milk and honey treatment as the back.  I continued with my affirmations, reinforcing my own positives and the support of friends and family while she worked.

At the end, I was clean.  Cleaner than most adults will ever be.  Before I had a baby, I would say I was clean as a newborn baby.  Now, I say I was as clean as a baby fresh from a bath after the last of the weird cheesy stuff from birth is gone, and the baby starts to plump up and turn pink.  Clean as, say, a one month old.  And I felt reborn and ready to tackle the next challenge.