Wednesday, September 30, 2015

What a day...

Today I...
Held my neighbor's puppy in my arms as she whimpered and moaned, having just been hit by a car.
I can't get the moaning sound out of my head.
Or the puppy's soulful eyes.
I think she sensed I wasn't her "person", but was in such pain/shock, it didn't matter ..almost as if she was grateful to be gently scooped off the street, wrapped in the nearest towel I could find.
They've only had her for three weeks.
When we carefully placed her in my neighbor's car, I assured her, "it's not that bad...she's alert, I think her hind leg is broken...she'll be okay, just GO."
I knew, though, that it was pretty bad (confirmed not thirty minutes later when my neighbor returned from the emergency vet without her puppy, tearful).
The puppy didn't make it.
It was 3pm, so the kids weren't home from school yet (thank god) heart broke when I saw her three boys amble up the street after the bus dropped then off.
So it's nearly 13 hours later and I just can't stop thinking about the dog and those poor kids.
The person who hit the dog wasn't from our neighborhood...I'm not exactly sure how it happened, but when I heard the terrible sound out front, I knew it was something bad.

Today is...
My mom's birthday.
I don't particularly want to make or eat cake or "celebrate" or enjoy all her favorite things...honestly, I don't want to go to her "spot." I've been there a lot lately. She's been in my dreams almost every night.
Ordinary every day things & conversations in my dreams, which leaves me feeling like "oh, I should call my mom..." But, then, duh...reality.
Sometimes I'll just dial her cell number so I don't forget it.
All this to say, I miss her tremendously right now and I need her lately; thus, not feeling the celebration vibe.
More like a distract-me-please-vibe.

Thursday, September 24, 2015


So, I ran this morning for the first time in 13 days...just 20 easy minutes in the woods; enough time to scare a baby snake (everyone knows I love critter spotting!) & appreciate the perfect weather. I stopped at the bench near the lot to stretch a little. I always think of my mom every time I pass that bench because its where a very kind woman left my mom's lost car keys during the NorBeaster of 2010. While snowshoeing at Harmony Hill (just me & Mare), my mom lost her keys and we didn't realize til we had made it back to the car. We had covered A LOT of ground, as my mom was quite the snowshoe enthusiast (it's how she coped with her disdain for winter). So, there we were frantically retracing our steps (in knee deep snow), making our way BACK to the woods when a lone cross country skier (perhaps sensing our demise) approached us on the trail & said, "if you happen to be looking for a set of keys, I placed them on the bench near the lot." We profusely thanked her and my mom called her our guardian angel...
I see that woman almost every time I'm at harmony hill. She favors the paved path, but I often pass her on bike or foot on my way to the woods. I remember her so clearly not only because she saved us from our "situation", but also because in a weird way she sorta resembles my grandmom Erma (if Erma had been the outdoorsy type), she's got to be at least 75-80 years old.
Anyway, as I'm stretching at that bench today, Mare's "guardian angel" is walking to her car, parked next to mine. I introduce myself & say, "may I ask your name?"
She's Pat.
Now I know her name & now I can give her a proper greeting when we pass each other on the path.
She remembers the key incident. She told me she walks EVERY day (and xc skies in the winter). Last year, she felt funny while taking her walk there and turns out she had a triple coronary.
She looks healthy & agreed we are so fortunate to have such a beautiful place near us to enjoy nature. She called Harmony Hill a "friendly trail."
As we parted ways, she said, "I'll say a little prayer for your mom."
Sweetest little exchange I've had in a long time & it made my day.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

In Summerrrrrrrrrr (a ramble-y recap to make me smile)

This is what we did:
Threw rocks/waded/swam/goofed around in the Brandywine.
Visited the zoo with Lindsay & her little girl (Maeve's bestie)...I must note; the weather was supreme, there was zero traffic on 76, and the animals were playful.
Visited the zoo with our awesome cousins (and Joe was kind enough to help out with a little wish fulfillment in the name of copiloting a Swan boat with Max).
Visited the tiny Brandywine Zoo with Shannon & our boys. We ate popcorn, marveled at the giant Flemish bunny, and decided red pandas belong with us.
Spent a week in OCNJ with Cary & BP (lots of board walk action/donut eating/crabby fry craving/Johnson's popcorn indulging/painting/wine drinking/playing in tide pools/relaxing/tag teaming with our kids); let it be known that Maeve loved sharing a room with her brother and it was pretty damn brilliant of me to pack brand new surprise Frozen sheets to help ease her worries about sleeping in a big bed.
What else?
Lots of running. With and without kids, with and without my favorite running buddy, on trails, on the road; I completed a trail racing series comprised of 10ks and one grueling 15k to cap it off. I fared better than expected and fell even more in love with trail running.
Took the kids to see Inside Out. I hate going to the movies, but this was great. We all sat still. I didn't fall asleep. I may have shed a happy tear.
What else?
We had a scavenger hunt at Harmony Hill, a party for the neighborhood kids, a lot of kick ball shenanigans in our cul de sac.
We had fires out back with favorite friends on several occasions.
We saw fireworks.
We rode many merry-go-rounds.
Enjoyed a few dates with my man.
Enjoyed a few rides with my man (too few, as I love riding in the woods with him).
Visited my brother and saw Coal Township without its usual shroud of rain or fog.
Heard/saw several great bands live (Glass Animals, Stevie Wonder FREE in the city, I forget who else but I'll remember after I push "publish").
Attended a fun party at B-Fed's and marveled at his awesome little spot in the woods.
Showed/sold my work at my first legit little art show in downtown West Chester.
Ate a Pistachio gelato waffle cone for dinner by myself. Shamelessly.
Devoured a $12 Nutella sundae at Gemelli.
Celebrated a bestie's birthday at the cutest cupcake shop around (Dia Doce) with all our kids...the lattes were on POINT.
Celebrated a dear friend's birthday at a gem of a sushi joint in Kennett (lily) with lots of Prosecco & a table full of lovely people (mostly coworkers).
Enjoyed drinks out with my favorite cousin (Blueberry mojitos at SoLo).
Drew and painted alllllllll kinds of fun stuff.
Played in the belly of the woods at ChesLen Preserve where they've set up a natural playground of sorts.
Explored the fairy garden at Winterthur with Cary, BP, and the kids.
Took my kids on an impromptu overnight adventure in OCNJ; just the three of us (janky motel, excellent Mexican food, boardwalk fun, more merry go rounds, beach time, and breakfast at the airport diner).
Watched Frozen, Babe, and Beverly Hills Chihuahua more times than is healthy I'm sure.
Made amazing fish tacos.
Discovered how cool our little local airport & its' restaurant is...big hit with the kids.
Discovered Maeve is NOT a fan of Hibachi & is probably (mentally) scarred for life.
Visited Grammy's spot often and foraged for wild raspberries at the cemetery.
Went to Zazen for a pedicure (a Mother's Day gift from Max) where I was served a generous pour of white wine.
Hosted a sleepover or two with my nephew.
Watched movies and ate popcorn in a giant tent/fort at our friends house on what was supposed to be a rainy day (but wasn't, but who cares...)
What else?
Got dressed up and sat next to Bill at the bar at Teca for dinner & Saison DuPonts.
Lunched with out-of-town Sara and admired her cute belly (baby Louisa is coming sooooon)!
Took the kids via R5 to Penn's Landing for the Tall Ships festival (just me & my kids); we ate free Kozy Shack Pudding, got treats at Shane Confectionary, Max & Maeve had their faces fun.
Hosted an impromptu s'mores night and stayed up finishing a bottle of wine way past anyone's bed time on a Sunday night...and the boys (the kid boys, not the men boys) may have ended up jumping into the neighbor's hot tub.
Learned a glorious new loop at Stroud's.
Tried out an interesting new brewery in Kennett with work friends & pretty much gave up on trivia.
Gave my son a lot more freedom to explore and venture out with his buddies.
Filled the baby pool many afternoons and got into all kinds of silly water play (do you know what water beads are? They are cheap, hopefully nontoxic, and an amazing little sensory activity that toddlers LOVE).
Ate lots of pineapple & coconut (spent too much money at Whole Foods on my lunch break).
Scored two pairs of Olukai flip flops that should last me many summers to come.
Treated Maeve to smoothie/fountain dates.
Spent lazy days inside building forts, having indoor picnics, dumping out every bin of toys, watching Dora or Teen Titans , listening to the Frozen soundtrack on repeat, making cookie bars or fruity pebble treats.
Made friends with the goats at Highland Orchards.
Made the swings at Ship Road park a regular stop after Target & drive-thru Starbucks (boom boom boom...done, perfect morning).
Got back into therapy (yays).
Learned a few nuances on my bike while testing out skills on familiar trails.
Practiced yoga almost daily (sometimes a few asanas, sometimes a whole series, sometimes just a little stretching and breathing).
Received a new pair of running shoes from my coach/husband.
Signed up for a half marathon.
Ate almost an entire butter cake (a surprise from Jackie, waiting for me after a long day of visiting Rob).
Road tripped to Coal Township with Beth to see my brother.
We saw baby piglets and beautiful horses on a picturesque morning at Springton Manor Farm. 
Took advantage of some free art classes for little kids at the Exton Studio of CCAA.
Began many Friday mornings with Wawa coffee for me & donuts for the kids.
There's more, I'm sure...

Guess what I didn't do?!
My one true goal & I failed.
Master the damn slack line.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Stir crazy

I'm on bed rest for the next seven days (but, you know me...I'm being optimistic & hoping to be up and about sooner than that).
It's just another freaky bout of viral meningitis...the cause of which is still a mystery (and I'm beginning to think a bit of a novelty) to my neurologist/infectious disease specialist/various doctors and nurses in the ER.
I kinda saw it coming...
Subtle signs last week that I blew off or attributed to other stuff.
I felt particularly crappy after running a 5k in West Chester Friday night (9/11). Considering the miles I've been putting in, a 5k shouldn't have left me feeling so destroyed.
If Lindsay (running buddy/one of the bestest of my besties) & I hadn't stuck together for the entire race, I would have really struggled. I owe my respectable finish (albeit blotchy & absolutely drenched in sweat) to her.
And Reilly, but that's another story for another day (let it be known she's like the little sister I never had).
Saturday I worked all day & felt crappier as the hours wore on.
By Sunday, I felt positively hit by a truck and realized at that point hmmmm I know this feeling and I know where this is headed.
I spent allllllll of Sunday in bed, mostly sleeping, not eating, not drinking, not anything-ing.
Sunday night I was in and out of sleep with that familiar headache building.
Monday was the inevitable trip to the ER (because my family doc won't even consider weighing in or trying to treat this little conundrum).
Faced with the choice of being admitted or treating the symptoms at home, I opted for home.
Ever since I watched my mom die in one of the best hospitals anywhere, I am terrified of staying in a hospital.
Irrationally, terrified.
Needles never bothered me before.
Now I nearly pass out when my blood is drawn.
The thought of a lumbar puncture makes me sweat and twist up inside. And cry.
Scared scared.
Here I am, in the comfort (and chaos) of my home with a crapload of meds, orders to stay put, IVs or blips or beeps or hospital smell or nurses taking vitals around the clock or any of that stuff that now scares the shit out of me.
The pain meds have eased my headache a bit (enough to read/write in bed), but they also make me restless and itchy.
Mostly, though, I just want my mom.
I mean, I'm sick...I want my mom.
You know?
My husband is an amazing caretaker...his patience is admirable, his demeanor is so calm and easy (as if none of this is a big deal, as if dropping everything and handling ALL of everything is no biggie)...
I just wish he didn't have to shoulder it on his own.
I wish my mom could come over and share her People magazine with me & play with Maeve while I sleep.
I wish she'd make tea for me (always in a smaller cup than I prefer, but always perfect) and wash the little pile of dishes by the sink (because I miss the sound of my mom trying to be quiet & considerate while bustling around my kitchen)...
I wish she'd just hang out here with me.
I wish Maeve would climb all over her and take her by the hand to play and read and be silly.

School is in full swing.
My son is off to a great start for fifth grade. He's growing up quickly.
He's all about trimming his nails and smelling clean and trying so damn hard to not crumple papers in his backpack.
New year, new leaf.
He's one of the three "big kids" at the bus stop.
Truly seems like yesterday when he was dwarfed by his backpack, wearing shorts a size too big, clambering nervously/excitedly onto the bus for the very first time as a brave little kindergartener.
Sounds soooooo cliche, but it's all true.
They really do grow up so fast.
I can't believe summer is over.
This must have been one of our best, most fun, most memorable summers ever (yep...another post for another day) & I hope hope hope my kids feel the same way.
I need some sleep. Freaking headache is coming back.
Somebody out there has it way worse than me...
This is nothing
A nuisance, a teeny tiny setback.

...good night.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

The need to write

My emotions are so flat lately and I have nothing to write about.
Rather, I'm not moved to write.
Believe me, I'm not dead inside...I've been busy.
I have been running and running and running. Running on trails and tracks and through town after dark (with a friend & brightly colored clothing). Running running running.
Yoga. It's become habit.
Yoga is a good habit.
Painting & drawing.
Sharing my art. Selling my art.
Trying to resist sugar.
Trying to be more here for my family.
Riding my bike and honing my skills on some new trails.
Same post, different day.

I visited my brother last Friday (with my dad).
I didn't even know how to participate in the conversation this time. 
I don't know if it's my meds or me or both or what right now, but whoa.
Social graces kinda confound me right now.
I sat, listening, and mostly just observing my brother's appearance and his voice.
So much is still exactly the same.
And yet...
The jumpsuit. 
And everything that goes along with that.
I haven't seen him alone, just the two of us, since Camp Hill; shortly after our mom died.
I've all but stopped writing to him (I typically write at least weekly and email regularly, too).
I (kinda) told him what's going on, but I don't need him to worry about me.
I have two more years to write plenty of letters to my brother in jail.
It's fine.

My daughter has grabbed toddlerhood by the horns and has made it her job to try (often, in earnest) to break me down.
Everything is a battle.
She's fun and smart and feisty.
She's also moody and defiant and did I already say moody?
Who does she get that from?

These days, I find myself worn out by 9pm, defeated by a two year-old and realizing I will be facing the same ridiculous battles again in less than twelve hours.
This shit is exhausting.
Some days, she most definitely does not get the best of me...sometimes an hour has elapsed without us exchanging a word (she, playing with her Polly Pockets and me, sorting a mountain of laundry).
I know this is when I should be taking advantage of her spongy little mind and relishing in all these teachable moments.
She found a scrub brush and started "cleaning" the concrete front porch with some spilled bubbles.
Oh, how Montessori, I sarcastically mused.
My Early Childhood Ed degree is really helping me shine as a mom.

It's time to take my Klonopin so I can sleep and not fret about money/health/5 lbs of weight gain/Donald Trump/my missing Owl necklace/co-parenting/kids doing drugs in fifth grade/holing up & hiding from my friends/the creaky sound my saddle makes when I ride/my addiction to cold dairy treats in any form or flavor...
I bid you good night.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015


I would do anything to hear my mom's voice today.
Thunder is the next best thing and a storm happens to be slowly rolling in.
I'm sitting on the front porch while Maeve naps because Max is playing GI Joe (or Iron Man?) and his sound effects are going up my spine.
I love that he's still into imaginative play and prefers action figures over video games (or at least has a healthy balance), but I am so on edge and it's like Biz Markie is doing a sound check in my living room (and not in a good way; I love the Biz, but...).
I feel hungover from a really bad breakdown.
Not suicidal/harming-one-one's-self- thoughts per se...but, crisis mode for sure.
I'm not proud of the fact that I shut myself into my room and sobbed in bed for three hours while my children were left to their own devices.
Thankfully, my sensitive & mature ten year-old son had the wherewithal to prepare lunch for his feisty little charge (mint chocolate chip ice cream) and park her in front of Beverly Hills Chihuahua II (on repeat).
I'm never ashamed of crying in front of my kids, but the past week (going on two weeks, truthfully) has been rough. While I want them to understand it's normal and okay to just lose your shit and have a good cry sometimes (sometimes for no reason), I don't want to scare them.
I also don't want to put the onus on my son to take over when mom is having a major breakdown.
That's not cool & that's not fair.
I remember being scared when my mom had particularly low/heavy cycles of depression, but I never felt compelled to have to take care of my brother.
During this particular "episode" that I'm pulling myself out of, I felt utterly stuck.
I knew I needed help and in a hurry.
I wasn't afraid of doing something harmful or reckless, but I was afraid of how I was feeling.
My dad wasn't around, Bill was at work and I really really just wanted my mom.
What do you do when you need your mom and you don't have her anymore?
I do have a vast network of support, but it was really hard to reach out...I didn't know what to say.
Help me?
Beth offered to drop everything at work and come over, but I insisted she stay put.
Why willingly admit you're at a serious low & then not accept help? That doesn't make sense (and nothing nothing nothing makes any sense in that moment).
Bill came home, I slept all afternoon, then ran 3 miles at the track with my friend, Lindsay.
I had forewarned her about my "mood", but ever the perfect running buddy (and awesome friend), she just paced us around & around & around...and around. Knowing what physical activity typically does to improve my state of mind, I really couldn't think of anything more ideal than repeating the track over and over. No obstacles, no roots, no rocks, no hills, no traffic, did feel good.
What followed was a totally sleepless night and a morning bouncing between psychologist & psychiatrist.
I get it...I get that this is one of the many things that I'm made of.
To me it's not much different than the part of me that suffers from hay fever or the part of me that has really nice handwriting or the part of me that is terrible at math.
It doesn't matter much why I am depressed. It just is.
And yet.
It isn't all the time.
That's the part that's tricky to remember when I'm in the thick of it.
When I'm really hopeless & can't stop crying or all I can handle is breathing & sleeping and I don't want to be pawed at or talked to...when I can't tolerate music or any sound other than my box fan...when just the thought of a warm bath takes too much energy...when I don't want my kids to need anything from me...when I can't eat or drink or make a's very easy to forget that it will pass.
Sometimes suddenly, like a switch.
Sometimes, arduously over days and weeks (that maybe stretch into a month).
It's cyclical, unpredictable, not always situational and sneaky.
I did end up getting some help.
A slight change in medication, a few concrete strategies in place for these really bad episodes.
I did end up reaching out to a few friends. Cousins. My husband (the saint).
I tried my best to articulate what's going on; not only because trying to hide it is so tiring, but these people care about me and they can help.

Now I'm going to derail this post and leave things on a high note, okay?
When I woke up Monday morning, I had no idea I was going to see Stevie Wonder perform live at City Hall later that afternoon.
Shortly after Beth texted me something about a free pop-up concert in thecity, I pretty much made up my mind that it was a chance worth taking.
I gathered all manner of kid stuff;  snacks, water, stroller, binky for the inevitable skipped nap during the train ride home...and we hopped on the R5 bound for Suburban Station.
After lounging in the grass at Dilworth Park and devouring a Clementine gelato, the crowd began to swell and descend upon our little spot.
When Stevie took the stage, I got goosebumps.
We enjoyed most of the show over by the can't top watching a toddler groove in the puddles to Sir Duke. And Max was stoked when the show closed with Superstition.
I hope I'm making good memories this summer for my kids...
You know, like taking the train on a whim to see a free concert by a living legend at city hall (as opposed to their mom losing her shit & crying for days on end and all that fun stuff).

I wrote this on my phone, so I'm sure there are errors galore. Sorry about that.

Monday, August 10, 2015

The taper

I'm (only) on day three of tapering down my Zoloft dosage (per my shrink, but that's a post for another day...or not) and it suuuuuuuuucks.
I have cried because:
The kid at the comic shop informed me that there was a $10 minimum on credit card purchases (my total was $5.19).
I walked down the street on a clear night at 10pm and heard neighbors laughing.
My dad stopped by to pick up a flyer that I'm working on for an upcoming art show.
Bill hugged me for a second too long.
Max wanted to have a sleepover (with me).
I told Bill about all my crying (and that made me cry).

Those are just a few of the reasons I've cried. It's like really bad PMS without the chocolate cravings and bitchiness.
Sike. There's bitchiness right now, too.

In a way, I find it kind of amusing (though certainly not in the moment) because I can probably count on one hand how many times I've cried in the past year.
Well, let me assure you, I am making up for that now.
In addition to the big fat tears rolling down my face without warning, I'm incredibly unsteady/dizzy, have no appetite, and am very tired.
I just woke up from a two hour nap.
And I'll probably go back to sleep when I am finished crafting this awesomely well-written post.
On the flip side, I was super pleasant (almost manically so) at work on Saturday and...
I guess that's the only flip side so far.
Let me just say this...
Drugs that affect your brain chemistry/serotonin levels are no joke.
Even under the watchful eye of a trusted psychiatrist...even when coupling said medication with psychotherapy. 
Even when the benefits unquestionably outweigh the risks. 
No. Joke.
It's a little bit jarring/unnerving what it feels like almost immediately when you take away a mere 50 milligrams.

Stay tuned, people...
Stay tuned.

Hey, let's hear it for all the Ugly Criers out there...the ones who get tell-tale red splotches that last for hours...the ones with the broken capillaries under your eyebrows...the ones who heave and sob with snotty bubbles and scrunched up amount of cold water splashed on the face or makeup can hide the evidence. I feel you, Ugly Criers.