Monthly Archives: March 2010

The one thing I just can’t handle

Complaining didn’t go over well in my house growing up; this is generally the case when one lives with a one-upper.

You know the type. If you have a sprained ankle, they spin tales of past woe-befallen BROKEN ankles. If you have a cold, they’ve just gotten over bronchitis.

My grandmother’s best friend was like this, to the point that when my grandmother got bifocals for the first time, her friend went out and got herself declared legally blind.

(At least that’s how my grandma liked to tell the story.)

(No matter how bad your one-upper was, my grandma would assure you: hers was worse.)

When I was in 10th grade, my dear and wonderful husband BROKE MY EVER-LOVING HEART. I was crushed. Crushed with SRS EMO PAIN. I think I cried for 24 hours straight. And do you know what my mother told me to try to make me feel better?

“Well, at least you weren’t engaged and you didn’t walk in on him cheating on you with another woman! Now THAT is heartbreak!”

Wow, Mom. I feel BUCKETS of better now.

And I know she meant well. She wanted to give me perspective, and I can see that now. But who wants perspective when they have just been crushed by their SOULMATE? (And see? I WAS RIGHT TO BE CRUSHED, DAMMIT.)

But that was the way things worked with my mom. When I encountered hardship, she always had a story of even greater hardship. And when I say that, I mean that from a heartbreaking place, because she did not have an easy life at all. She is a survivor of so much, and I don’t begrudge her a moment of it.

Recently, we were talking, and she started getting very down on herself. Things have been difficult with her siblings lately, and she’s been sort of in the Bog of Eternal Stench of Family Issues. And then she went off on herself about what right did she have to be sad? We are all still healthy, we have roofs over our heads and food on the table and everything under the sun to be thankful for.

And oh, it broke my heart. Because she was letting the whole wide world one-up her very justified pain. So I told her that everyone bears their own burdens. This is not misery poker, no one is playing to win, and no matter how bad off you are, there is someone, SOMEWHERE, worse off than you. But everyone’s pain is their own.

It was permission to wallow, if just for a moment, in circumstances that would have crushed someone weaker a long time ago. And in an instant she understood — you cannot slap a > or < between two people’s burdens.

Because you just don’t know. You don’t know their whole day, and you don’t know their whole story.

And that, dear internet, is the one thing I cannot handle. It is the one thing where, no matter what you’re complaining about, no matter how heavy your load, my sympathy synthesizers shut the hell down when you belittle another person’s struggle.

I wish I could say I’m not guilty of it, but of course I am. OF COURSE I am. We all think it, sometimes; we all feel the most persecuted, the most exhausted, the most put-upon. The grass is always brownest in our own backyard.

But the next time I catch myself thinking, “So-and-so has such-and-such, so her life is easier/better/more fair than mine!” I will take a step back and appreciate that so-and-so has things beneath the surface that I will never, ever see. So-and-so has skeletons in the closet and her own dark demons and looks at me and is certain I have it better.

If we all threw our problems up in the air, I’d fight like hell to catch my own. And I’m willing to bet so-and-so would too.

9 Comments

Filed under Probably too serious

And just where do I think I’ve been? I hope you didn’t wait up

It’s a BLAWG!

In November, I was all chugga-chuggin’ along and finished up NaBloPoMo with nary an idea to spare, so I took off a little time in December. Holidays! You know. Then January — well, there’s a holiday in January! And recovery from the holidays. And, well, February. There’s not much excuse for that. Now it’s halfway through March and — yeah.

I had a rough go of things in January. Panic attacks in the middle of the day brought on by goodness only knows what. It felt like PMS that just wouldn’t go away. (And why are people so much MEANER when you have the PMS? It’s certainly not me, after all. I am a hoot.) I cried a lot and I took a long hard look at everything. I couldn’t just sit and languish, but when you’re in it, that’s all you can do.

I decided to take the baby steps I’ve taken before to pull myself back out. Fish oil. B-vitamins. And my diet. Oh, you guys. With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, my meal planning went out the window. Chicken nuggets became a nightly occurrence. Boxed mac ‘n’ cheese. No fresh produce. Frozen peas and corn were as nutritious as it got.

And I was feeling it. I would worry all day about what I’d make for dinner, and then 5 o’clock would come and go and I’d never come up with anything. It was, for whatever reason, the thing I was using to punish myself. For what, I’m not sure. But then it would go in a cycle, where the more meals like that I’d prepare, the more I would convince myself I was a horrible person. (I’m nothing if not of sound mind and completely rational.) The more I thought I was a horrible person, the more I would abuse my body with processed food.

Believe me, you guys — I know this all sounds painfully dramatic. I can see that from here. Real hardship would be no food at all. I am not claiming this as a reason to feel sorry for me or that I should have felt sorry for myself. But at the time, I was so buried inside myself (for reasons I’m not really detailing here), it was what my brain chose to fixate on. The scapegoat of all that pain.

So, with the vitamins came an overhaul of the pantry. I didn’t toss anything, but once those foods were gone, they weren’t replaced.

I looked at my day and I realized I was not leaving a moment of it for myself. (Or for my husband, either. Which is what comes next. That man has more patience in his little finger than I’ve got, well, anyplace bigger than that.) I had free time — but I was wasting it all on misery. On self-flagellation and stupid, pointless, loathing. I’d sort of stare at the internet and hope it would entertain me. Perk me up in some way. But it just made me feel worse. I’d open WordPress and find I hadn’t a funny thing to say. (But I’ve still managed this little gem of giggles, so all is not lost.)

I needed an outlet for myself, and I realized cooking was that outlet. It was something I could do for myself — spend free time perusing recipes and preparing complicated meals — while not feeling guilty, because it meant healthy, whole foods for my family. In the past couple of months I’ve baked bread and hamburger buns; we’ve had eggplant and Swiss chard and quinoa for the first time; our meals focus on vegetables with the meat mostly an afterthought. (If it’s not too LOOK AT ME I AM A FOOD BLAWGER LOLOL I might talk about some of the things I’ve cooked recently, because there have been some big, big hits.)

And I’m coming out of the fog. Slowly but surely, like the tortoise of yore, plodding toward my goal of being a better me. It is still pretty hard. But I have an incredible life — beautiful, brilliant little girls and an incredible husband — there is no external reason for me to feel this way. There is no one out there to blame and point at and scream “YOU DID THIS TO ME” at.

I feel silly talking about all of this here, as though my internal monologue of WOE is somehow interesting or pertinent to the internet at large. I guess I just figure there must be other people out there like me, with incredibly blessed lives, who find themselves beneath this sort of weight. I hope it’s made a little sense.

I’ll try to be back again soon. If I’m not too busy making funnel cakes, that is.

7 Comments

Filed under Probably too serious

If I don’t blog again for a while, you’ll know it’s because the monkey ate me. OR it could just be that I forgot. Again.

Plague. Misery. WOE.

There! You’re caught up on 2010 around casa dashoff.

It hasn’t been all bad. Not even a little bit all bad. But there have been a lot of colds and fevers and new teeth and bumps and scrapes and my NOSE is currently ILL in some way. It’s gross, is what it is. Sore and dry and gross and gross and my goodness I haven’t blogged in forever and now I’m talking about my NOSE ISSUES.

But, seriously. It was actually swollen the other day. I swabbed the inside of one nostril with Neosporin + Pain Reliever. It says not to be taken internally, but that’s not really the same thing, right? Plus, it’s the kind made especially for kids. So it won’t really kill me or anything, it will just make me crazy in the head.

I probably should have warned you that I’m high on Neosporin + Pain Reliever right now.

(And yes, I’m clearly being paid by Neosporin + Pain Reliever to write this. I hope I dun ’em proud!)

The real reason I’m writing this today, dear friends, is to alert you to a bit of a situation going on in my home town in that there is a MONKEY ON THE LOOSE.

Let me back up here and explain something to you. I? Am afraid of animals.

That’s not really something I usually go around just telling people, but it’s true. Pretty much all animals. Dogs, especially. Maybe I watched too many cartoons as a kid, but I just see thought bubbles over their heads starring me as a tasty roast chicken. With those little floofy white things on my drumsticky legs. (What the heck are those things, anyway? Are they just for decoration, or do they serve some purpose?)

Also birds. They will poop on you and then peck out your eyes while you try to clean yourself up. Bugs, obviously. Cats, though mostly just my brother’s cat, who has given me GOOD reason to fear him, as he once sent my mother to the ER needing stitches because she made the mistake of patting him gently. Squirrels, we’ve discussed.

Anyhow, one of my greatest fears is being mauled to death by a rogue zoo animal. Or a rogue wild animal. Probably when it’s killing me I’m not going to get a chance to find out where it came from.

This might be less of an issue if I didn’t live in Florida, where one can just happen upon an 8 foot alligator. I really, truly wish that was an exaggeration. (I’m pretty sure I don’t know a single Floridian who hasn’t seen an alligator eat an animal right in front of them. “GROSS!” you’re probably thinking, but no. No. The only thought you think in that moment is “PRAISE THE HEAVENS IT WAS NOT MY FOOT!”)

As you can imagine, going to a place like Busch Gardens is a ton of fun with me. I eye the habitats suspiciously, figuring the smart animals can probably find a way around that big FAKE ROCK NICE TRY, ZOOKEEPER. And it’s the smart ones you don’t want running loose, because the smart ones can both duck authorities AND find a good place to hide my body.

I’d really like my family to have something left to hold on to. Even if it’s just one of my twitchy, twitchy limbs.

So, ANYWAY. There is a monkey loose. Excerpted from The Tampa Tribune:

A monkey that has eluded capture in the Tampa Bay area for more than a year has again escaped from Florida wildlife officials. Authorities were called to a neighborhood in St. Petersburg on Wednesday when the rhesus macaque monkey was spotted. It was twice hit with tranquilizer darts, but still got away by ducking behind a drug store and a church.

Wildlife rehabilitator Vernon Yates says the tranquilizers don’t appear to affect the animal, though officials have increased the dosage each time they’ve used the drug on the monkey.

Yates says the monkey is smart, even stopping to check traffic before crossing a busy street.

Officials didn’t say how the monkey got loose. They say it isn’t considered a threat to humans.

This thing is out there, lurking in neighborhoods. It could be behind my grocery store! Tranquilizers are useless against it, and it is smart enough to look both ways before crossing the street. Holy hobgoblins. And not a threat to humans? Have these people not seen Planet of the Apes? This here monkey is the one that will start it all.

I mean, look at him:

That is no monkey. It is a goddamn NINJA.

I just hope we have someone better than Federal Wildlife Marshall Willenholly on the job.

11 Comments

Filed under Not even kidding