Posts Tagged ‘Life Gets The Better Of You’


Posted: 7 July 2011 in observations

You guys, we are doing so great.  According to every stress score/therapist/person with common sense everywhere, my wife and I should have crumpled under the weight of our own lives lately. No, not even crumpled, steamrolled by our life.  But you want to know if you’re also doing exceedingly well, right?  Well here you go: Misters Holmes and Rahe have a scale that will tell you just how dangerously you’ve been living.  I know, just look at that*.

Here’s how it works, you get a point for every major life event you encounter and as your points rise you are considered at greater risk for stress-induced illness.  I am in fine health for a person who has racked up 358 points – well into the highest bracket – for the year. And, since I’m a person who has 453 points for the last two years ( the time which some interpreters of the scale allot) I’m doing fucking awesome.  Let’s break it down:

I’ve earned points for:
Death of a close family member (Well, two but I only gave myself points for one.  I was being generous.)
Personal injury or illness (I suppose cancer and subsequent surgery gets full points here)
Change in health of family member (Check.  My mother’s mental illness has spiraled out of control but I didn’t count my sister’s regular calls as she copes with infertility, the arthritis suddenly crippling my father’s hands, my wife’s root canal and other dental work and my mother-in-law’s stroke and heart attack.  Don’t worry – I included that in “trouble with in-laws”)
Sexual difficulties (Let’s be honest, having a kid cramps your style but what they don’t tell you is how difficult it’s going to be to get back on the same page)
Change in financial state (All of our savings?  Funeral trips and major home repairs)
Trouble with in-laws (Mother-in-law’s health, sister-in-law’s criminal behavior both actually and in her relationship with my wife)
Change in social activities (Yep, having a baby makes this automatic)
Change in sleeping habits (See above)
Change in number of family reunions (See death, illness, dying, and so forth)
Change in eating habits (See baby)
Vacation (One week from day.  You wouldn’t think this causes stress, but believe me)
Christmas (Well, yes.)

Here are the things that didn’t get me points, just for the record (THANK GOODNESS) –Death of a spouse, Divorce, Marital separation, Imprisonment, Marriage, Dismissal from work, Marital reconciliation, Retirement, Business readjustment, Change to different line of work, Change in frequency of arguments, Foreclosure of mortgage or loan, Change in responsibilities at work, Child leaving home, Outstanding personal achievement, Spouse starts or stops work, Begin or end school, Change in living conditions, Trouble with boss, Change in working hours or conditions, Change in schools, Change in recreation, Change in church activities, Minor violation of law.

And I think we can get a hallelujah for all that.

And if we take in the last two years like some folks do, I “get” to claim these extras –Pregnancy (wife’s, check), Gain a new family member (RR, check), Death of a close friend (in the past year, two folks that have had a significant impact on my life), Major mortgage (gorgeous, if rotting, house), and Change in residence (see gorgeous and rotting house).

Amazingly, this doesn’t mean there haven’t been 500 points of average, non-stress causing happiness and success.  In fact, I’m pretty damn lucky.  However, at this point I’m wondering if I need to be a little LESS lucky.

*Frankly, I’m disappointed by the lack of a Foreign Service-modified scale, since every single last one of you is living hard and fast in the scale, but we’ll just assume you get extra points just for staying alive.


I’ve taken to saying holy cow! when what I really want to say is Fuck.

What I want to say is that I’ve been hurtling through this year, but that doesn’t quite fit.  I feel like I’m moving slowly, taking measured steps forward while huge barrels of icy water crash down around me.  What I want to say is that this has been an outstanding year.  But it isn’t really true either.  I’d count my blessings for you but you’d be bored – the list is so long.

On the other hand, since my daughter was born in June, I have watched my mother change from a person I recognized (no matter how I felt about that) to a woman who is a rather unpleasant stranger.  I’ve attributed this to the death of my maternal grandmother in November but really it could be something entirely mental health related.  My grandmother lived with my parents and the fall that precipitated her death was dramatic.  In the end, it wrung my mother dry.  We flew cross-country with our 6 month old in the winter for the memorial and that was the last time I saw any familiar part of my mother.  In April, my paternal grandmother died.  My parents handled this as they characteristically do; in an effort not to upset my sisters and I in any way, they downplayed her imminent death and eventual funeral.  Within 24 hours of hearing she had just days, I was on the opposite coast with my hand on her shoulder as she passed away.  I think there’s a lot I want to say about that.  I know that if I had told my parents I was going prior to rather than after my arrival, they would have discouraged me and been disappointed that I’d gone.  As it was, I felt disobedient for skulking around.  It was important.  That’s what I want to say.  Last week, I learned that the menacing looking black patch on my arm was melanoma and I’ll be heading in for a biopsy of my lymph nodes.  While I keep saying it’s nothing, the odds are unlikely, we caught it early enough, what I want to say is this sort of thing wouldn’t happen to me.  Cancer is just not what I see happening.  I’m pretty sure though, that saying that is a good way to get kicked in the teeth.

It’s a lot for one year.  Even if it’s a health scare and not a health crisis, it’s still two grandmothers (three if you throw in D’s Annabelle in early fall) and one mother short than when I started.  I catch myself trying not to hold still, moving forward steadily, hoping not to get drenched again.

My parents have just been visiting for three weeks.  I had a fortunate childhood and I like them well enough, but my mother (previously known here as the VVM) has a complex set of mental illness and emotional damage that makes her less like a mother and more like a particularly sensitive time bomb.

It has taken years of visits to recognize that two or three days before she leaves for home she stops speaking to me, has no opinion about anything, trails behind on any outing – and by behind I mean a block or so, not just a bit – and waits for the opportunity to take something I’ve said and twist it into a personal attack.  You can imagine where that goes.  No place good.

In the end, I spend hours wondering what I could have done differently, and I can usually find something.  I said or did something that she could take wrong.  This time I carefully watched every word I said and until the very end of her last day.  I’d be proud to announce that I’d averted crisis except that it’s impossible.  She dissolved anyway.  She attacked other people, less so than she usually goes after me, but I stayed out of the line of fire until all the signs came anyway.  Even though I didn’t say anything, it happened anyway.

She lives on the other side of the country and our visits are annual at best.  It doesn’t matter that she has contentious relationships with other family members.  It doesn’t matter that I love her very much.  It doesn’t matter that she treats me differently than my sisters.  What matters is that I don’t know how avoid another visit.  I can’t stand the idea of doing this again now that I am completely sure it isn’t my fault.

Sure, it could be so much worse.  But it sure as hell could be so much better.


Yoo Hoo!

Posted: 31 March 2011 in observations

Well then, I stepped out for a year.

Things that make the internet like real life:
Sometimes everyone talks at once.
Folks like to look at pictures of themselves.
There’s Crazy Aunt Cindy in the corner ranting about how no one understands.

Then there are the things that make the internet not at all like real life.  Primarily:
No one calls the police when you’ve been missing for a year.

In fact, it’s okay to go missing, we just move on.  Let me tell you though, I miss you.  For better or for worse, I think of folks I used to read, but there are no Internet Police to call.  So I forgive you for letting me slip away.

Right.  Moving forward.  I’ve carried on my monologue over at Counting Chickens for the last year but I’ve missed being a grown-up.  So I’m pulling the sheets off of the sofa and rinsing the windows.  The direction here will likely carry on as aimlessly as usual which doesn’t capture me many readers but lets me be as unfocused as I like.   On the plus side, I suspect the voyeuristic sorts I gathered when exposed at my former job have long since gone, except of course, if they haven’t.  Then, clearly, they’re the solid sort and are welcome to stay.

Excellent.  Onward ho!