Monday, June 24, 2013

Swords and Handcuffs.

Just what I always wanted!

How about a car for an anniversary gift?  Swords, handcuffs, bicycles, and appliances are also gift recommendations for the 11th wedding anniversary--That's because they are often made of steel.  

You would think the well-known milestone, the 10th nuptial anniversary, would have something really spectacular associated with it as a gift, you know?  Steel seems like a really “Yo, I’m up in yo’ face, what you gonna do ‘bout it,” type of material.  Yet, the gift material for the 10th year is traditionally tin.  What's that about?

What is actually made of tin?  "Tin cans" are actually made of steel.

And hey, the 11 year anniversary is the year of steel.

11 years is Superman.
11 years is being manufactured into cars in a Detroit factory.
11 years means you can buy that special someone a sword, (and a member of the editorial staff of actually thinks it's a good idea).

The "Tin Man" has got nothing on this guy.
Maybe the weightier metal comes after the seemingly huge wedding anniversary milestone, is because people often don't make it to 10 years.  Maybe 10 years is when things are supposed to completely fall apart in a relationship, and if the couple survives until the 11th year they are steel strong, not flimsy tin strong
Hmmm...  Statistics from a possibly unreliable website called stated: "After 5 years, approximately 10% of marriages are expected to end in divorce - another 10% (or 20% cumulatively) are divorced by about the tenth year after marriage."  Well, that information doesn't really support my hypothetical line of reasoning, but it kind of sounds like it does if you read it fast.

However, I’m kind of right.  I did a little research and not only was tin once a precious commodity because of its “non-corrosive” properties, another site stated it symbolized the needs for marriages to be flexible—we need to bend without breaking.  I’d say this past year was pretty bendy indeed.  And honestly, I do know that there is very little tin in American now, and very few products are actually made of tin, but instead are made of aluminum.  Tin foil?  No, that’s aluminum foil.  Tin might seem flimsy and inconsequential, but it is quite rare, and maybe what Sam and I have is rare too… But we’re steel now, baby...  Steel that is bridge supports, and sky-scraper girders, and unconditional love.
So…  Woo Hoo! We did it!  

Monday, June 17, 2013

Wreck Myself.

I'm kind of wrecking myself, which is the opposite of checking myself...  Ice Cube would be disappointed.

It is such a strange situation that I'm in, and I can't really talk about it.  I can't really tell anyone.  I can't do anything about it at all.  My dad certainly doesn't know what to say about it.  I know it crushes him, but I think, like everything else in his life over the last 5-10 years, he ignores it or blocks it out because it causes him pain...  He has to.  I love him, I don't blame him.  Work, work, work.  

They, (my mom and dad), influenced me to make huge personal sacrifices so I would keep teaching:  To keep teaching with my dad.  Because he needed me.  Because I was a gifted teacher.  Because he needed me.  

He was here last night for his birthday and asked Stella if she would be on the Green Horn staff if he stayed teaching for that long.  I said, "Stella would you work at a school that fired mommy?"  I'm a Debbie Downer, huh?  

That's all I ever wanted to do...
They also revised all the English teachers' schedules, so that whoever the new English teacher (my replacement) might be, will be teaching Sophomore English (my beloved class).  My dad had a meeting with the school administrators about something else and they talked about his new schedule and how Creative Writing was added back into his schedule, (which was on my schedule).  My dad mentioned how pleased the principal was that he was happy to have Creative Writing again.  I said, "And nothing came up in that conversation, like, 'Remember when you fired my daughter, and those were classes she would be teaching next year?'"  

Please don't make me do this anymore daddy...
I shouldn't say anything at all that causes my daddy more stress, but it is so strange.  I know he has to just survive up there, and I know it kills him that I won't be there, but he talks to me about school like it doesn't rip my heart out that everything ended up this way...  I mean, until 3 years ago, I thought I would be teaching with my dad for the next 12 years or so, before he retired!  I never imagined this is what would happen.  I know the current administration will leave, move on, but I won't get a job... I can't see myself getting any teaching job now that I've been terminated.  No matter the reason for my contract termination, people will pass my job applications over, just like I would do and have done when serving on a hiring committee.  Fired?  Must be something wrong with that teacher.  

And this is unfair, and I shouldn't say it, but this thing just keeps wrapping its tentacles around my brain and squeezing it:  I keep thinking about Ryan and how he stayed in that English class  for the rest of the school year after what happened.  5 months.  I don't know why I didn't say anything at the time, that it bothered me, other than the simple fact I was a complete emotional and psychological mess and I did a whole lot of saying nothing at all.  And my dad had to just kept treating him like any other student.  I know he had to do this to survive, and I know 17-year-old-me told my parents I just wanted them to not talk about it, not to do anything, not to tell anyone, not to draw any attention to the situation or me...  

Yet, all of this, makes the old me want to punch someone.  I feel like I wouldn't be able to do that.  I would want to strangle anyone who hurt my child.  17?  That's when kids are just all sorts of messed up because they are at the cusp of losing their childhood, and are lost without experiencing any violent trauma.  The ripping away of "being a kid" is violent enough.  But that was the worst way to handle it all, to suppress my feelings and ignore what happened.  It evidently messed me up for the rest of my life. Maybe that's my problem, I mean.  I don't know.  I don't know.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

I do. A Dream.

Our 11th anniversary is quickly approaching.  In fact, it's next week. 
 Eleven years.  
One house.  
Two cars.  
Two babies.  
Maybe it was our trip to Burlington, that inspired my dream.  Maybe it was something else.  What do dreams mean, anyway?  

Lake Champlain.

So: I dreamed about working on the Lake Champlain boat again, and there was this couple who wanted to get married on the bow of that small ship spontaneously--except not so spontaneously because they were dressed for a special occasion. Her dress had ruffles that floated up in the wind, and "made her look fat." That dress needed a sash or belt in this wind, I thought.

I was looking everywhere for a black ribbon to use as a belt on the dress, and the bride was with me. We opened the only closet on the boat, located behind the buffet table. I was on my hands and knees rummaging around desperately, but then I suddenly realized we were in all these closets... we were looking through closets from all time, and all my life. We were crawling through closets that existed when I was a child, in my childhood home, and the clothes all smelled exactly the way I remember our house smelling, and my mom's closet smelling. And the bride and I were looking and looking, to see if there was a ribbon-belt we could borrow from one of these closets.

And we found something. And then we were on the boat again, even though we had never actually left. In our search we had lost time, though, and it was now cloudy and the weather ominous, yet I knew it had to be the perfect lighting, the perfect moment to get married, and I knew that moment would come.

We waited, and the light suddenly glowed on the bow of the boat, and we stepped outside, into the sun and breeze off the lake, ready for the wedding. It was that perfect moment. I knew it. As the party lined up ready for the "impromptu ceremony," I was loading film, incidentally, and the ship captain was ready to perform the ceremony. But, as they stood in the glowing light, it suddenly disappeared, and it began to rain, and we all ran back inside.

We kept waiting and waiting for the rain to stop, and the light to come back. I knew, (as the photographer witnessing this event, and the one who needed the perfect light for the perfect picture of this couple), that it would reappear... But it didn't come any time before I left the dream.  The boat just kept moving through the water, like it was never going to head back to the dock and let these passengers off, until the light came back--Until the light came back for that perfect picture, and that perfect moment to say, "I do."

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Bloody Nose, Liquid Prozac, and a Bell Jar.

I don’t know what to say anymore.  I feel like I hit this strange wall.  SMACK.  I have a bloody nose, and I’m trying to stop it from covering me red, but I am also trying to figure out why I even let myself run into the wall, and why I wasn’t paying attention.

That is me.  No that is me on PMDD.  I am being formally and aggressively treated for this plight a small percentage of women battle.  PMDD killed Sylvia Plath.  It usually hits women when they are in their early 30s.  Who knows what is happening at first?  I had months where I really thought I wanted to die, for a week every month.  I wanted to just disappear.  It made perfect sense to me.  I said things that others, who didn't know, could not understand.  Hell, I didn't understand what I was saying...  But it seemed like clarity to me, in those moments, and then it just scared the bejesus out of me.  "Who wrote that?  Me?  What is this?  Why did I say that?"

It's terrifying.  I know it's coming, and it will be bad.  I know I will slip away and I won't have much to hold onto.  Not reality.  I lose that in spurts.  I speak nonsense.  I see things that aren't visible to anyone else...

J: No, no, I’m not following my own order.  I said I would not talk to you about...  I don’t know what I said.  I would have to check.

T: In what world do proclamations like that have any weight?  Do you think you're going to just not talk?  Or I'm going to just ignore you?

J: I understand I talk way too much, so you would have to ignore me.  I’m a geyser:  Fine, fine, explode!  gushing, flooding my world with too much information, too much craziness, and then fine, fine, quiet, quiet.

T: See above questions!  Do you not want to talk?

Last time I saw an old lady in the mirror.  I was sitting on the side of the bed, with my bare legs reflecting back at me, and I saw withered skin and ropes of veins.  My arms too.  Sam told me that was not real, that I was not seeing what was real.  No!  Couldn't he see how old I was.  Look at me!  Look at me?  "Wait...I'm fucked up, aren't I?  This isn't real?"  No look at my hands.  What are those things?  They are going to rip through my skin.  They are coming out of my hands!"  And Sam held my hands until I could breathe and I said, "Check my hands...  Are they normal again?"  "Those are just tendons in you hand.  They move when you move your fingers.  Your hands were always normal.  I promise."  I couldn't look at my hands.

J: Thank you for asking if I wanted to.  That was nice of you.  I appreciate everything you are and have been to me.  I really do. I’m super fucked up right now, but I can still think clearly enough to know that you have made my life more beautiful.  And I want you to do something smart, and stay away from fucked up women... You are being silly.

T: So is saying, "Go!  Run away and be free!"

I know it will pass.  I am lucid most of the time during that week, just very dark and numb...  At the bottom of a well.  I'm just in darkness, waiting to be brought back up to the light and sun.  And when I feel the warmth on my face again, I'm okay.  I'm happy!  I'm happy I don't have to go back down there for at least 20 whole days.  

Yet,  how do I tell anyone, particularly male friends who can't possibly have the tolerance for temporary psychosis and dysphoria because of whacked out hormones and brain chemical fluctuations, that I'm sorry for my PMDD behavior?  "Hey, forgive me for being super craaazy pants last week.  You know, it's the luteal phase of my cycle, rearing it's psycho-bitch, Medusa head.  No probs.  Just ignore it."  It just seems like an extension of the crazy to even try to explain it.  And it's embarrassing.  So I hide now.  I try not to communicate with anyone but Sam.  I save up any and all sanity I can muster for my children, for that entire week, and just fucking lose it when they go to sleep.  I am despondent.

My mom saw me during the week once and said I was acting "mostly normal, just very sad."  I was proud that I only appeared sad.  I can explain sad.  "I'm crying randomly while we play this fine game of Zingo, because I miss our old horse Megan, kids... That's why mommy's crying..."

Poor mom.  Crying about the dead horse again.  Beating a dead horse with my tears.

J: You didn’t listen before, and you must see that that would have been a wise decision.  You actually did it, now that I think  about it. blah, blah.   it’s a million o’clock.

T: Using GMT, huh?

J: I love talking to you.  Sometimes I feel like talking to you makes my whole world happier, you know?  And last night, I realized that was really sad.

T: Why do you feel that's sad?

J: Because...  
We can talk another day, if you feel like it.  And then you’ll understand.

T: Why won't I now?

J: Ah, well, because you’re too nice.  And it’s late.  And because if you think about it, you’ll see it yourself.  Even last  night, yesterday, I felt this thing coming on like a freight train, and you disappeared--as well you should--to talk to someone else.  But you were just gone.  And that’s what you need to do.

I push people away because they don't need to worry about me or my crazy problems.  It's impossible to understand, even for me.  And dealing with PMDD feels hopeless when I read about it all.  Every month I see why Sylvia Plath placed a pillow in her oven after sending her children safely to the neighbor's apartment, and turned on the gas.  It scares me that I understand.  Yet, she didn't know what was wrong with her.  I do.

I'm getting help.  We are on the most aggressive treatment now.  Starting in, oh, 21 or so days, we'll see if it works.  I pray that it will.  In the meantime, Sam  is there to tell me it is not a good idea to cut open my vein to get all the bad blood out of my arm, or that I'm safe when I feel like I'm crazy.  He loves the unlovable Joanna.   I miss my other best friends.  I miss them when I am "normal," but I am so glad they left me when I am crouched at the bottom of that deep, dark, hole.  I don't want to bring anyone down, ya know?



I get to squirt liquid Prozac, from a little syringe, into my coffee, soda, juice...  Fun times, I tell you.  Can't even taste it.  To take such a small dose, the pill is liquified and can be measured carefully.  Now that I have started taking 2-5 mg of Prozac daily, during the week when PMDD would normally darken and confuse my brain, I am not as dark; I am not so confused.   

It seems that the The British newspapers are the only ones interested in covering a study that shows that a the very low dose of 2-5 mg of Prozac can help relieve some of the most severe PMDD symptoms.  I think that, understandably, only people who either live with PMDD, or live with someone who suffers from PMDD, won't care about the possibility of this treatment, any gosh darn treatment, actually working...  Unless you feel bat shit crazy, (or you live with someone who suffers from PMDD (i.e. 1.  Wants to die.  2.  Wants you to put her out of her misery.  2.  Loves you so much she doesn't deserve you.  3.  Thinks you are not awesome, 15 minutes later.  4.  Cries about horrific hypothetical situations.  5.  Cries for no reason at all.  6.  Asks you to knock her out with a 2x4 for a week... Seriously... She says, "Please" with great sincerity), for 7-10 days a month, you don't have to care about it at all.

2mg per day of Prozac is enough to:

1.  "Raise the level of sex hormones"(while reducing sex drive) which affect the ALLO levels in the blood and as such provide a 'calming effect'.

2.  Adjust a hormonal response that would otherwise "manifest behaviorally as anxiety and aggressive behavior."

3.  Enough to affect "anxiety, mood swings, tiredness, depression, headaches, feeling bloated and pains in the joints."

Dr Thelma Lovick, who led the research at the University of Birmingham, shared her findings:  

She found that the build up of the sex hormone progesterone before ovulation has a knock on effect on a steroid called allopregnanolone (ALLO).

This latter substance soothes the brain and has a calming effect on the emotions.
When levels of ALLO drop sharply during the late premenstrual period, this effect is reduced and symptoms of PMS, such as anxiety, irritability and aggression, emerge.

"As a consequence these brain circuits become more excitable, leaving the individual more responsive to stress, which is often manifested behaviorally as anxiety and aggressive behavior.
Dr Lovick hypothesized that if the sharp fall in ALLO levels is the factor that triggers these brain changes, then if you could make ALLO levels decrease gradually at the end of the cycle, the symptoms of PMS should not develop

Using this premise, the Birmingham group has devised an approach termed ‘neuroactive steroid replacement treatment’, which has been shown to completely prevent the development of premenstrual symptoms in rats.

"We knew that the widely used anti-anxiety drug fluoxetine (Prozac) could raise levels of ALLO when taken for short periods," she said.

"This effect happened quickly and occurred in response to a very low dose of fluoxetine’ says Dr Lovick.

"We thought that if dosing with fluoxetine was carefully timed to boost brain ALLO levels just when they were due to fall sharply at the end of the cycle, the normal trigger for the development of premenstrual syndrome would be absent."

Most significantly, the dosage needed to achieve this was only about one tenth of the standard strength of the most commonly prescribed form of fluoxetine.

The team were "astonished" to find that it completely prevented signs of anxiety and increased pain and sensitivity normally found in female rats during their version of the premenstrual period.

To our amazement it completely blocked the symptoms," she said.

"Moreover, it completely changed the way in which the brain circuits responded to anxiety-inducing stress,"she said.




Wednesday, June 5, 2013

It's just business.

Tuesday, I'll be involved in a very serious business transaction.  A decision will be made by an authoritative figure about me and my role in the "company," based on what's best for business.

If, say, you have robots that are all part of an assembly line, and one robot breaks, you remove it and put in a new robot. There is no need to repair the other one, you've got a lineup of working machines, ready to do the assembly line work.

And I've been undergoing repairs.  I have been sick -- Sick from allergies that have been so severe I developed asthma and I required a functioning endoscopic sinus surgery, to do some fixing.  Ah, but the human body isn't so simple.  Can't just put in new parts and it's good as new...  Especially if the factory is causing this robot's shorting out. It's like if that robot was working in the very spot where there happened to be a leak in the roof, and the constant, seemingly unnoticeable, drip, drip of water corroded the parts and actually made it malfunction.  And they figured that out, luckily, but that robot was toast.  Because water and electronic devices don't mix; and me and mold? We aren't compadres.  They can put in a waterproof robot, (don't bother fixing the roof, because that sounds really darn expensive), and the problem is solved.  Easy.

So I'm being pulled off the assembly line that is now what we call public education.  But, honestly,  I could never function properly on that assembly line anyway, dripping water, or not.  I would keep shorting out.   Because I would keep picking up and admiring the "product," when I was just supposed to tighten the bolts as quickly as possible and let it keep moving down the conveyer belt.  I couldn't.  I'd see every single creation coming down the line, and I would want to know it, and help it, and worry about it, and applaud it, and encourage it to keep going...  And honestly, I might even kind of push it gently off the conveyer belt, hoping it would be able to think for itself, tighten its own bolts even!  I would want it to be an individual, in the mass of products coming down the line, faster and faster, "Move the belt faster!"

And if I did that with every little thing I was helping "build," I'd not only slow up the production, I'd stop it in it's tracks.  Screech!  "What the Hell's going on in here?" 

And some machines, doing their work, as they were programmed to do along that line, wouldn't even fucking notice that nothing's-a-coming down the moving belt, and they would keep spraying the same color paint, adding pieces that don't connect to anything because the body of the substantial part of the product is not there.  Those robots would just keep moving as the switch in the factory that turns them on and off requires.  And me--that "shorted out, mess of a teacher" who keeps getting sick, and hasn't been able to stay for more than one semester for the last two years because I'm not waterproof--would never be the right robot for that job.  And I would never see my students as products.  Children amazed me with their uniqueness and vim.  I got to know each one as an individual.  

What a blessing that was, to have that opportunity.  And I would never, for even a moment, want anything different, than to see each student, and each day I spent with him or her, as something special and full of potential.