Monthly Archives: August 2015

This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

It occurred to me that I should contact my son’s ex-girlfriend to see about getting his things from their apartment. I didn’t even know what was still there, but I knew I was interested in getting at least one certain item back for him.

Her response: “Susan . . . I’m sorry. I threw everything out.”

I was standing in Kohl’s when this text came in, and I felt like the wind had been knocked out of me. My hand flew to my mouth and I just walked around in a daze for a few minutes.

Is this what people do these days? Has it always been this way? When one person gets angry with another, do they just throw away everything that belonged to that person? Even as I was texting to ask her about the stuff, I had a sense that she probably had thrown everything away. I just hadn’t counted on what it would feel like to realize what got thrown away. Gifts to him from us. Family members who have loved him and who still love him.

I remember choosing the entertainment center for him for Christmas a few years ago. He’s always deeply loved movies, video games, and electronics. It was a sleek, low-slung black wooden center with glass doors which would house his beloved movies and xbox and tv. Whether or not allowing those things in his room was a mistake (it may have been), I knew he would love this entertainment center. And he did. It was his Santa Claus gift that year. And now it’s gone. Thrown away by someone who was angry with him.

The one item that I really cared about was a weighted blanket his Nana bought for him about a year ago. Weighted blankets are soothing for persons with sensory issues. I’ve always felt like I missed his sensory issues when he was a child, so I was excited that he was going to be able to have this blanket. I had gotten to select it and chose a fabric and color I knew he would find soothing. And now it’s gone. Thrown away by someone who was angry with him.

I suppose it might be cathartic to throw away someone else’s things when you are really angry, but I simply cannot imagine doing so. I do want to be clear that my purpose today is not to reflect badly on this young woman. To a certain degree, I can understand. I am not angry with her, nor wanting to solicit any judgment toward her.

Wow. At an Al-anon meeting recently, someone said we who love addicts and alcoholics should afford them the dignity to live their lives the way they want to live them. And maybe it’s not that different that the stuff got thrown away rather than sold for cash, which is where other possessions have gone. It all seems such a waste, but I do choose to allow my son the dignity to live his life the way he chooses to live it.

But it still feels like a loss to me. I wonder if it is in part because I have tried so hard to find something that would change his experience of the world as a painful place, because I know I have definitely tried to do that. Here comes one more lesson from the Universe to remind me that I’m not the person who can change things for him. It will take me awhile to get over this, but I will. And I guess it’s part of his journey to experience this and deal with whatever comes of it. But it still feels like a loss.

I do hope I don’t end up being the one who tells him everything is gone. Heck, maybe he already knows. I’m usually the last to find things out, anyway. I don’t know. I just don’t know. Good thing there’s an Al-anon meeting tonight¬†and I already have a babysitter.

Me, An Anthill, A Beehive, and a Pinball Machine

In other words: Me and Kepler.

We were on our way to church this morning when we spied Bob, a homeless man who lives in a tent near the highway. I had one of my “homeless people lunches” with me so we swung into the parking lot to see if he would like to have it. He said no thanks but was grateful for some socks, some advil and a jacket.


We didn’t make it to church after all, so we went ahead and did some necessary shopping at Kohl’s and the grocery store. Shopping with Kepler, unless I am on Kepler time, is some kind of challenge opportunity. Unfortunately, my opportunity radar was on the blink this morning so I allowed myself to become very agitated by his ongoing interest in every little thing along the way. I wanted to MOVE, MOVE, MOVE. He wanted to — well, here’s a Family Circus cartoon which kind of illustrates his method of motion.

Anthills, beehives, and pinball machines are arguably neutral-to-good entities. No doubt, going through the store Kepler’s way would yield all kinds of interesting things. But not when I’m in a hurry, hurry, hurry. And sometimes it’s not even the issue of being in a hurry as much as trying to find a certain item. I only have so much brain space, ya know?

Happily, I know our trips to the store and the library and all the little errands we go on are great for him to learn about things and places and people and ideas. And here in the quiet, with the hum of the air conditioner in the background, and the evening sky darkening, I can remember that.

Greg mentioned situational leadership this afternoon and I found those principles to be very helpful in thinking about this. The idea is that followers are best served when the leader adjusts to the situation and leads in a way that is appropriate for that situation. Kepler needs a lot of guidance and direction. This means that I cannot lead him expecting him to act as though he does not need guidance and direction. And when I do lead that way, then the anthill, the beehive and the pinball machine careen to and fro while waiting for the leader to notice what is going on.

It is these moments of reflection, combined with wise words and good listening from my dearest, which enable me to remember this is a journey, and to take a few deep breaths, and to begin again.

Let’s All Thank the Bright and Shiny Stars for Starbucks Caramel Frappuccini

(That’s the plural of frappuccino.)

Before I ran down to Sbux and got one, I was writing a most boring blog post which you would have been subjected to. Instead, I got a burst of energy from that little green and white lady and now you will be subjected to a possibly boring blog post, but at least I don’t feel like the most boring person to have ever lived.

So, about Alanon. Last night, Greg and I attended a local meeting for the second time. It’s a small group but seems to be a group of long-standing. I STILL don’t really get Alanon yet, but I’ve been to fewer than 10 meetings at four separate locations.

Last night the leader opened it up to discussion about any topic we wanted. As I raised my hand and made a suggestion, I discovered really quickly as he interrupted me that it’s any topic that is an ALANON topic. My question was about co-dependency, which isn’t an Alanon topic. Guess I have to go to co-dependents anonymous for that. I find myself listening to people and thinking, “Oh, I don’t do that.” Which probably means, I definitely do.

I can see that this organization helps a lot of people. I don’t really understand how, though.¬†It just seems like such a slo-o-o-o-w way to progress. And I can’t decide if I already decided a long time ago that “[I] admitted that [I] was powerless over drugs — that [his] addiction had become unmanageable” or if I’m missing something very, very basic. Maybe a bit of both? I do not blame myself for his choices. I do not feel responsible for them. Yet, I recognize that our family dynamics have impacted all of our children, and while not responsible for any of their choices, have contributed to each’s experience.

I suppose there are pretty big differences between having an alcoholic parent, compared to having an alcoholic spouse, compared to having an alcoholic child. And maybe I’m still deluded to imagine there’s much difference between alcoholism and drug addiction. At least with alcohol, the alcoholic isn’t breaking a law every time they buy it and drink it.

“Why Alanon” is a question I still haven’t answered, except that I know my husband is getting good stuff from the meetings. I’d like to just rewrite that Step 1 to say, “We admitted we were powerless over drugs, that our addiction had become unmanageable, but that doesn’t mean we are powerless in every way in our lives, and therefore we have great resources available to us, through a higher power and through our own intuition and wisdom.” Except I don’t think that most people even believe that. And anyway, the point of step 1 is to give up control, or trying to control, or believing that we can control an addiction. And as much as I would like to be able to influence my son not to use drugs, I really am powerless over his decisions.

So, for tonight, let’s just leave it at me feeling quite the approach-avoidance conflict about the 12-step program for myself.

Good Reminder for Me and Possibly You

I was listening to the “The One You Feed” podcast this morning, after having whittled down my Twitter list to the people I really want to follow and/or those I do not see elsewhere on social media.

Eric was talking about getting things done. This has been a low-productivity week for me. He said two things I found very helpful.

When you are driving somewhere, if you look at your progress at any particular moment, you will not get an accurate overall picture. You may have to slow down to 10mph on the highway because of traffic, where you may be able to go 65 on another part of the highway. Making a decision about your overall progress based on the moment you are going 10mph is going to give you an inaccurate picture. It’s the overall average speed that will give you a good picture of how you are doing.

If I look at any particular moment (or day) when I am having low productivity and make large conclusions about my productivity based on this one moment, I will not see the whole picture. It’s the average of the moments, minutes, hours, days, week, not just this one moment right here.

Of course if I am working to be productive this minute, that’s great, but I mustn’t look at a slow time and decide that’s the entire picture.

The other reminder was an analogy about how we take care of plants. To have a healthy plant, we water it a little bit at a time. If we give it a gallon today and then nothing for the next four weeks, for most plants, this will not work at all. Same with projects or maintenance tasks. A little bit each day. I couldn’t possibly have gotten all the libraries visited with Kepler this summer if I had tried to visit all 41 branches in one day. It was the one or two at a time that got us this far.

Here is a link to the podcast, which is just under 6 minutes long. If you ever look at yourself and characterize yourself based on this individual moment, may I recommend that you listen to this podcast. Very encouraging.

All hands on deck

This post is about our deck. Hence the clever title. Well, our deck and the garden next to it.

A few years ago, we planned blackberries and raspberries. Long story short, they didn’t do well. Today I decided to take the remaining bushes out. 

Whose idea was it to install thorns on every surface of the plant? Not only the stems, but every single leaf is covered with thorns. 

So, while “barefoot gardening” might be a good book title, it’s not a good practice. Ouch.

We have a nice backyard that I barely ever show up in. Now that Toast is here, me and my backyard are like *this.* 

Things are shaping up back there! So, a toast to Toast. 

Slim pickins tonight. Figuring out my days now that the kids are in school and I have a puppy to care for. Reminds me of the days I was afraid to go anywhere because my baby might need to breastfeed. Now it’s about whether the puppy is going to pee on my floor if I miss taking him out in time. I’m sure this will pass, but it’s a little limiting at the moment.

An experienced dog woman would probably be experiencing this differently. I suppose. But in the meantime, I’ll watch with tenderness as Kepler gets off the bus each day and trades me his backpack for the dog’s leash. “I wuv Toast, mom.”

A Katzenjammer of Miscellany for August 26

1. What is it like to be William, one of our local postal workers who is infamous for his gruff manner? I always dread going to the post office just a little bit because of him. 

2. I suppose it shows my age, but I like Facebook because I get little glimpses of people I don’t see in real life.

3. I suppose it shows my age, but I don’t like Facebook because I only get glimpses of people I’d actually like to see and talk to.

4. Currently, I’m binge-watching Nurse Jackie on Showtime. I’m finding the depiction of addiction very interesting. 

5. I wonder if I am a control freak. 

6. It only took me five months to get the blood drawn the Dr ordered for Kepler. 

7. Got my Apple watch back. Can see both viewpoints; that it’s an expensive item to be able to keep your phone in your pocket, but it’s also an attractive piece of jewelry which makes a cell phone even handier to use.

8. I was famous for a second today when the drunk ex-pastors responded on their podcast to a question I asked them on Facebook and they used my name.

9. I wonder if coupons are really worth the time and effort.

10. Got a cool new bag from My Alexander technique teacher was wearing one and I fell for it immediately. 

Fat Tuesday Update Number >1 but <100

Thought I’d let you know what is working.

For a couple months now, I’ve removed simple carbs, and fruit from my diet. I eat protein, fat, and carbohydrates from veggies and beans. 

The trick is, for 156 of the 168 hours each week, I stick to this. For the other twelve ( Saturdays from about 11am to 11 pm) I eat whatever I want. 

So far, Saturdays have included donuts and pizza. Sometimes I have ice cream too. Allowing myself this freedom makes it very possible for me to be careful the other 6 days.

156/168 is just under 93%. It’s a different approach for me to actually encourage anything less than perfection. But it works to be careful 93% of the time.
I do not have a scale, so no idea what might be changing, although we did take measurements near the end of July and about as month later, and I have lost about six inches off my biceps, thighs, waist, chest and hips. 

Old habits die hard, it seems

Or maybe we’re just always seeking equilibrium. 

I wheeled the Rosie (Aussie word for garbage bin) out to the street today, reveling in the sunshine and the breeze and the moderate temperatures, a little out of the ordinary for Ohio August. These days are known as the dog days, which, haha, they literally are for me, but not weather-wise. As I sauntered out to the street, I suddenly realized I was feeling guilty because I’m not crazy busy now that the kids are back in school. 

Somebody’s voice piped up in my brain, “Ahem. It has come to my attention that your house is a mess. Cluttered! Messy! Needs attention! WHY ISN’T THIS DONE.” That last bit wasn’t even a question. Somebody thinks they have me pegged. Ugh.

We humans, at least many in the western world, give speeches, preach sermons, write books and teach workshops on slowing down, enjoying the now, letting go of all the busy, and striving mightily to learn to arrive early, take our time, smell the flowers, enjoy the sunshine, hug our kids, go for a walk. 

It’s great to figure out we want to arrive early. It’s important to know why we want that. It’s fantastic that I’m not running like a marathoner all day long currently. I love being able to leave early enough that I’m not stressing about rushing here and there. But it’s a habit to think I’m not doing enough if I actually can leave early enough not to rush. 

As fast as life moves and changes, who knows how many more days of summer there will be where I can feel the cool shade, feel the grass on the bare feet, and take my time? So, Somebody, thank you for your opinion see ya later bye.” 

Can you relate? When is the last time you really enjoyed some carefree timelessness without rushing toward the next thing? 

Tennis, Anyone?

Kepler is left-handed. For some reason today at the Buddy Up demo, his buddy insisted he play right-handed. I got very hung up on this. I figure he has enough challenges already without insisting he play wrong-handed. 

I know it didn’t impact the outcome of a match or game. I know he had fun. But I wanted him to be able to do this thing the way it comes naturally. Why would an adult take the racquet out of his dominant hand? 

I think I’m making up a story that she assumed because he has Down syndrome he doesn’t know which hand to hold the racquet with. That’s why it bothered me so much.

If she was going to assume anything, I’d like her to assume he knows what the heck he’s doing when he holds his racquet. 

There’s probably a really good reason why she kept taking the racquet out of his left hand and I wish I knew what it was because this is still sticking with me. 

This is a perfect illustration of the kind of thinking that has gotten me stuck before. I make up a story about why someone else does something. And about 99.987% of the time I don’t know, do I?

I suppose we all do this, but it certainly makes for a less satisfying experience. I think I’m harboring a little secret desire that he’ll be able to participate in the Special Olympics someday so I want his sports experiences to be as good as possible. Which to me means he plays left-handed. 

 But it’s time to let it go. Learn from it. Acknowledge; and move on, as my boy Lloyd Dobler said in Say Anything. It happened. We lived. And everything’ll be ok. I know it. 

A Slight Aggravation About Which I Shall Write

Let’s say Bank A has the requirement that Action X must be supported by two years of business tax returns.

Let’s say that Bank B offers to see if Action X can be done without two years of business tax returns.

Bank B asks for an application and the last two years’ business tax returns. Customer has one year of returns, and submits that one year.

Later, Bank B asks for certain schedules that go along with that tax return.

Still later asks for W2s as supporting documentation.

Then W2s for the prior year.

Then, after a long wait, Bank B says sorry, Action X can only be done with two years of business tax returns.

Did they know that at the beginning of the process? Would not the second question be hello do you have a second year of business tax returns, because if not, we’ll have to put this off for a year? Is there any reason why the process should have proceeded beyond the first step if there were not two years of returns to study?

Looking at this example, perhaps the underwriters want to gather all the information together before making a decision, but if they need two years of business returns, all the information can be gathered together before the beginning even begins, and the refusal can be expressed without the customer having to make multiple trips to the bank, scan and copy additional documents, respond to emails, respond to snail mail, and make and receive telephone calls.

Any banky types out there? Why didn’t Bank B say no from the get-go if they needed two years of returns and the customer only had one year?

In the meantime, Perfect, what’s next?