Before/After/During

(Inspired by this week’s PROMPTuesday.)

 

Among other things, Dr. Carolle hit the nail on the head when she drew this on a piece of paper, and said:

 

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This is you.

 

It was at that point that I turned uflatteringly red. I huffed. I puffed. And then I stopped and thought: Well. THAT looks familiar.

 

There it was. My life in graphical format. Me? A loose cannon that reacts strongly to external stimuli and lets my resulting emotions run amok. Then, when the external stimuli settles, I do too. So see. I’m not grounded. On the inside. Because if I were? Dr. Carolle said I’d be calmer, more focused, less freaky outty.

 

It’s long been my goal to feel together enough on the inside to resist the winds that can buffet me on the outside. So far, I haven’t made this milestone, not even close, and many times, the answers why elude me. I’ve been out of control for awhile now, completely rocked by what’s happened on the outside and because my external environment has been driving me bananas (because I let it) with a lot of work as well as family, hobby, and social obligations, and little to no quiet time. As a result, I’ve let myself go in oh so many ways. I’m indulging in too much and too little. Too much wine, too much stress, too much food; too little exercise, too little reflection, too little zen.

 

One of the perks of marriage to The Rock is that he doesn’t take any of my bullshit. He will say things like, “Well stop drinking then.” Or “Take a walk.” Or “Read a book.” And these things are good and sensical, however, my brain does not accept them because my brain has problems. As for what Dr. Carolle said about this? “Stop being a little shit.”

 

Seriously. She said that. Isn’t that awesome? She said it with love, but with firmness. Do I want to be a woman and deal? Or do I want to go on and on bellyaching?

 

(Do NOT answer that.)

 

I chose being a woman who deals with things, and while I’m on a long, long, long-ass, fricking road, I’ve semi-committed to a few steps:

 

EAT HEALTHIER

This past weekend something clicked. I’m not sure if it was that I’m not fitting in my clothes anymore, or if I realized I couldn’t remember the previous night’s conversation because the wine, or if I’m just in my flatline period, but I decided to re-commit to taking care of myself. I figure that if my body is healthier, my mind can’t help but follow, and so yesterday, I grocery-shopped my way to better eating habits.

 

Among other things, I purchased raw almond butter, organic apples, strawberries, red leaf lettuce, cucumbers (did you know cucumbers are FULL of vitamins and minerals?) and whole wheat gnocchi (made with sweet potatoes). Last night for dinner, I made halibut with roasted garlic, whole grain rice, and sauteed spinach…and this morning, I had Greek yogurt with almonds, oats, and strawberries.

 

When I eat better, I feel clearer. I need that clarity.

 

EXERCISE.

Enough said. Well…a little more: Yesterday, I danced around my living room and lifted some weights. I like dancing in my living room. It’s not only exercise, it’s good for the soul.

 

VIEW YOUR EMOTIONS WITH A BIG GRAIN OF SALT

This is the biggest thing of all for me. I’m a big emotions gal. If I feel it, it must be so. So when I feel out of control, I believe I am out of control, and I let that wave of out-of-controlness sway me good. And while NO ONE can ever tell me that emotionally-led people aren’t awesome, it’s another thing entirely when emotions are allowed to run ramshod all over your inner psyche. Here’s an example:

 

I returned home from my girl’s weekend last Sunday feeling emotionally good. There’s was lots of girly communicating and commiserating and talking and laughing. All the great stuff, you know. Stuff I need. But then when I walked into the house, The Rock was his characteristic Rock self: grounded and quiet. When he didn’t fall all over me and tell me he missed me and instantly let me run out and get an LA Fitness membership because I decided to start exercising RIGHT THAT MINUTE, I got upset. Like cryey, upset. My emotions told me (a) he didn’t love me (b) I made a big mistake with this marriage (c) we can’t communicate and I should move out (d) I am fat.

 

So after the kids were in bed, I sat on the couch in gathering darkness and fought back tears of doom and destruction. It was at this point that The Rock sat next to me, put his hand on my knee and told me that we’re doing fine.

 

And after looking at all the evidentiary evidence of a good life together, I had to agree. Perhaps my emotions need to be tempered with a little something called reality.

 

KEEP GOING

I want to have all the answers! I want to have all the answers! I want to have all the answers!

 

But I don’t.

 

And so I keep walking. Sometimes my “before” becomes an “after” and my “after” a “before,” and they continually circle each other, becoming a web of “during,” which is where all the answers are found.

 

PROMPTuesday #112: TWO Words

Tonight I accidentally tweeted two photos of myself that I meant not to post. Also, I typed in www.t!tpic.com instead of www.twitpic.com. AND but.ly instead of bit.ly. You can imagine the consequences.

 

So here are the photos:

 

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Nothing big, I get that. But still. They were supposed to be top secret until I posted them both on PROMPTuesday. Because? I look so superspy and mysterious, right?

 

These were taken at my makeover session at NuboNau in Carlsbad, and right now? I do not want to contemplate why my before makeup picture looks the exact same as my after makeup picture, with the exception of the sourpuss. Maybe because my skin is a makeup vacuum? I don’t the hell know.

 

Which leads me to my PROMPT today.

 

Only two words to stimulate your creative juices:

 

BEFORE.

AFTER.

 

What you got to write about that?

 

Please post your BEFORE/AFTER submission in the comments OR post in your blog and leave a link to your blog in the comments.

 

First time to PROMPTuesday? Read a bit about it here.
Want to see what’s been written in the past? Catch up on the PROMPTuesdays archive here.

 

So. Many. Things.

First. My dad is under supervision to bring his blood potassium levels down. Good thing the family is so concerned because when I called to ask how he was he said:

 

I’m old. Old people die.”

 

I just love his charming ways. But for sure he said that with a glass of wine in his hand and a cigar in his mouth.

 

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Also, I went camping.

 

All in all, things were not as hilariously madcap as you might expect given that my pre-camping post had me in a full nervous breakdown. Luckily, I managed to keep the brain together, except for a brief PMSy incident:

 

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I am sorry to report that The Rock has had a semi-serious arrow injury to the buttal region.

 

You will also be thrilled to know that I cooked stuff on our enormous camping stove and slept fairly well in our Canvas Condo.

 

Most of our camping gear turned out to be WAY HUGER than anyone else’s, which I suppose can happen when you haven’t camped in years and think the bigger the stuff, the more respect you gain from serious campers.

 

Not so, not so.

 

Also, you should have seen camping chairs. They were like king’s thrones. GIANT kings from the Land of Hugetopia.

 

Live and learn.

 

The place where we stayed offered camping for the non-camper, and every second was filled with either pool time or the zip line or the BMX bike track or the basketball court or the rustic playground or the petting zoo or the paintball field.

 

I’m quite sure there was also a four-star restaurant somewhere on the property.

 

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By the end of the weekend, I had enough dust in my bellybutton to re-sand the Sahara and was grateful to get home for a long shower. And to poop. The pooping was sublime and ample.

 

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Aren’t I charming? I get it from my dad.

 

Right after our return home from camping, my sister and her family came for a visit. From North Dakota. (She still moved there even after the intervention.) (Just kidding.) (My mom was born there and it’s lovely country.) (If you’re an eskimo.) (Or a melancholic who is at home amidst long sweeping plains of coldness and sparsity.) (Just kidding again for the most part.)

 

So my sister sprained her ankle a couple of days before she visited. And the totally weird thing is? She was JUST STANDING there when it happened. Just. Standing. There. With 46 glasses of wine in her hand I discovered upon further investigation.

 

And the long and short of it was that she was confined to my house, so her husband lost his mind from all the sitting around took off and went for a drive to Wal-Mart.

For fun.

 

Oh shit. What else happened this past week?

 

Right! A girls’ weekend to the Mission Bay Hyatt!

 

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Lots of fun was had by all.

 

But especially by me. Because?

 

I so needed some time away.

 

And swing dancers.

 

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And good friends.

 

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Especially good friends.

 

(Thanks for all your comments and emails and texts over the last week. I very much appreciate all of you.)

 

Intermission

Hiya folks. No PROMPTuesday this week. But we’ll both be back.

 

Here’s a storytelly PROMPT from days of yore, if you want to check it out.

 

See you soon.

 

UPDATED: Here’s the story (from 9/08’s prompt). I feel bad for abandoning PROMPTuesday today and want to give you something.

 

He’d fallen asleep at the wheel. Must’ve been just a second or two, because his truck never strayed from its straight course. Then again, since he crossed into Wyoming’s Great Plains, he’d been going straight. He shrugged his shoulders, squinted at the road, and stuck his left ear out the window as far as it’d go. The blast of cool air punched his cheek and he thought he could make it another hour or two. Lucky he woke when he did, because he felt the truck drag as it negotiated the rising elevation. Soon, he’d be in the mountains.

 

He used to love these quiet rides from Denver to Cheyenne and back again, but since his baby daughter was born, it was harder and harder to leave home. He knew his wife hated these two weeks a month when he traveled, and he had yet to tell her that his company was extending his jukebox route to South Dakota. More miles, more bars, more scraggly towns. Truth be told, it didn’t bother him much, he’d always liked being in motion, but now with the family…

 

A gas station’s sickly glow beckoned from the road, piercing his reverie. He’d better fill up. He’d run out of gas in the mountains before, and had to wait until morning for help. And while he didn’t scare easy, something about the dark, quiet solitude unnerved him. A truck idled at the pump as he pulled into the station. He rolled out of the car, still a little groggy, and shuffled to his fuel tank. He’d just about topped off when a thin young couple approached him.

 

“Hey man,” the woman stayed back as her boyfriend or whoever held out his hand.

 

“Hey.” He replaced the pump and wiped both hands on his pants. He knew this type. Always asking for a ride. And he always gave them one.

“We need to get to Denver, man. Can you give us a ride?” The guy looked desperate, and his girlfriend seemed just plain embarrassed.

 

Hands still on his pants, he hesitated for a second. He’d promised his wife he wouldn’t pick up any more hitchhikers. Not after what happened in Sheridan. But these kids could be like his own one day. And he always liked to be a help. “That Kenny,” they said in the jukebox biz. “Always willing to lend a hand.”

 

“Sure,” he smiled at the girl. “Hop in.”

 

Kenny owned a small Ford truck and though it was cramped, he hid his surprise as the man slid in right next to him. Too close, he thought. The girl huddled against the window.

 

“We’ll be in the mountains soon, should be in Denver by the morning.” He smiled at them both this time.

 

“That’s great,” the man mumbled. “Thanks man.”

 

Kenny made light conversation as the car climbed the foothills. The girl didn’t say much in return, but her boyfriend responded to every question easily, usually before she could speak.

 

Silence soon descended over the group, the road’s bumps providing adequate noise. Still, Kenny turned up the radio. “No man,” the hitchhiker twisted the radio knob. “If you don’t mind.”

 

As he gave the kid a surprised look, Kenny saw the knife. The guy didn’t look up, and seemed absorbed in cleaning his fingernails with the blade. Kenny held his breath. This was unexpected.

 

Nobody could say Kenny wasn’t a good judge of character. It’s one of the reasons he made such a great salesman. But he didn’t see this coming. He sped up.

 

The mountains had absorbed them miles back and in these parts, guardrails weren’t so common. Kenny inched the odometer up, and swerved close to the cliff’s edge.

 

“What are you doing, man?” The kid’s voice trembled a bit.

 

“You put that knife away.” 75, 80 miles per hour, he wasn’t about to slow down.

 

“Why would I do that?” The shake in his voice belied his terror.

 

“Because if you’re going to kill me, we’re all going down.” Kenny didn’t look at the girl.

 

“You’re joking. Why would I kill you?”

 

Kenny didn’t answer. The truck began to shake under the increased speed.

 

“Fine, fine. man! It’s gone!” The kid threw the knife in the back of the truck.

 

“That’s better,” Kenny slowed the truck to a stop. “Now get out.”

 

“You’re letting us out here? We’ll freeze to death!” The kid was just a kid after all.

 

Kenny smiled. “Oh you’re getting out,” he answered as he reached into the back. “But it’s not the cold that’s going to kill you.”

 

A Post of Labyrinth-like Proportions

My head? A ferris wheel with things to do in each bucket, whirling around like an out of control carnival ride. I can’t catch any of my thoughts, no kidding, and I wonder if it’s a side effect of my medication, an antidepressant I don’t want to take anymore, because among other things it makes you fat around the middle, which is superficial but upsetting when you’re depressed and 41.

 

Except that I’m not depressed anymore, just amped, and I think maybe the Celexa is doing it to me or maybe now I’ve veered into manic-depressive territory? That would be rich, except when you’re manic you stay up all night and get things done, right? Not go to bed at 10PM and then wake up at 2AM to think of all the things you didn’t do? Not making matters better is that we’re leaving for our camping trip in T-minus three hours and I am currently sitting at a dining room table absolutely bedecked with paper cups, applesauce, insect repellant and sunscreen products. A crowded table does not a calm mind make.

 

I’m reading this post back to myself now and it is all over the place like my table but I feel I must write something so on I go.

 

So the medication. I’ve been taking it since March 2009 after an upsetting bout with PMS depression that lasted for an intense week each month. And I’ve noticed changes, like twitching and forgetfulness and amplitude (both mental AND physical) and I want off this stuff. Back in December I stopped taking it cold turkey because I forgot to get my prescription filled and for a while, I felt more alive, less dull, more alert, less faded. I also believe that the medication affects my writing and makes it mojo-less and stupid. And rambling. I actually went back into my archives pre-March 2009 and think I wrote more better. Also now I have heel calluses. Coincidence?

 

So I quit taking it late last year like I said, and it was OK for about a minute. Then, I started getting snappy. Not sad, mind you, snappy. And irritable and bratty. Pretty soon, I felt like a porcupine with barbs growing out of my skin, not wanting anyone to talk to me, much less try to touch me or anything. It was at that point, I reflected that maybe it’s because I was medication-less, so I began to take the Celexa again.

 

But now my head.

 

I don’t know what I’m trying to say.

 

I like to think I’m just eccentric and unfocused as opposed to needful of medication.

 

Wish me my family luck on the camping trip!

 

Rambling Rambler Camping Woman Home on the Range

Speaking of summer camp, the family and I are going camping this weekend. For me, it’ll be the first time since I was a kid, not counting that “camping trip” (where the “” denotes “make-out” trip) to San Filipe with an SDSU frat when I was 18. One whole week sleeping on the sandy beaches of the Sea of Cortez, eating the same XL pizza out of my friend’s hatchback, and drinking water out of left-over Coco Loco shells. Good camper times, good camper times. I’m thinking this coming weekend ain’t gonna be like that. More like a crowded above-ground pool, s’mores, and trail mix out of a Chevy Suburban.

 

One thing I will NOT miss about that San Filipe trip?

 

Pooping on a scorpion in the middle of the night.

 

Pretty sure THIS campground has bathrooms. Gross and mildewy for sure, but still. Better than a sand potty scorpion nest.

 

So because neither I, nor my husband, have been camping for years going on epochs, we had nothing. NOTHING. NOTHING even resembling camp gear.

Well…there was the sleeping bag. The one resting in the eaves of the garage, wrapped in a shredded Hefty bag, tied with dirty old twine. The Rock pulled it down amid a cloud of dust and upon unfurling it, told me I could use it, to which I helpfully replied as a spider emerged from the top of the sleeping bag, HELL NO I WON’T.

 

My refusal to sleep in Hotel for Arachnids prompted The Rock to go on a camping implements shopping trip. He’d already perused the newspaper ads and circled this and that, which I subsequently Googled for reviews, and so we were prepared. Except let me just say here that as I was looking at the clipped ads, I said stuff like, “Hey! Get a load of those camp chairs! They’ve got cup holders! Can we get them? Can we?” to which The Rock replied, “We are on a budget. We cannot afford to get everything. We can sit on our beach chairs.” And then I countered with, “But did you see those Queen air mattresses on sale? They look so squishy and campy.” Upon which The Rock said, “We can sleep on our leaky Aerobed! We don’t need no new stinkin’ air mattresses.”

 

It was riiiight about then that I noticed The Rock had put a big red circle around a cool-ass sleeping bag with an arrow pointing to a “ME” as in “HE” as in “THE ROCK” as in “NOT ME” as in “NOT FOR SAN DIEGO MOMMA.” So I say, “What’s with the sleeping bag? You get a new one and I get the spider cocoon?” And he said “But I’m tall! I need a sleeping bag for tall people!”

 

Then off he went.

 

Well about an hour into the shopping trip, I get a panicked phone call. Seems the Sports Authority advertised a 6-person tent for a great price, but when The Rock arrived at the store he discovered the tent advertised was not the tent for sale. At which point he screamed “BAIT AND SWITCH!” and waited for the manager to put the snafu right with some kind of make-good deal on another tent. So while he’s waiting, The Rock calls me from the back of the store’s tent display, reading off names of tents that I am supposed to Google and find out whether the tent sucks or not. Then I hear a hasty “I’ll call you back” and the line goes dead.

 

About an hour later there’s a crash in the garage and soon after, The Rock enters our home with 937 pieces of camp gear. You know, frivolous things like TWO NEW CAMP CHAIRS WITH CUP HOLDERS, TWO QUEEN AIR MATTRESSES, TWO SLEEPING BAGS FOR TALL PEOPLE, A STOVE, and 89 LANTERNS, including one YOU WEAR ON YOUR HEAD. And also? Where once we planned to buy this tent?

 

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We now are the proud owners of this tent:

 

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And that’s just the first floor.

It’s for nine people, has an overhead LIGHTING SYSTEM and possibly a three-car garage.

 

So I think the moral of this rambling story is bigger is better.

 

Or wait. Did I get that moral mixed up with the one from my San Filipe trip.

 

I forget. The tent currently living in my family room is blocking the sun and the resultant lack of Vitamin D is starving my brain of its coherent-sentence-making memory cells.

 

PROMPTuesday #111: Summertime

This week’s PROMPT is inspired by my friend Jennifer, who writes a Flashback post every Friday on her most excellent blog. Recently she wrote about her summer camp memories and I thought that’d make a great PROMPTuesday topic.

 

I, for one, attended sleepaway camp just two summers at the awesome and amazing George Williams Camp in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. It was there that I first began telling spooky stories to a rapt captive audience of other sixth-graders who had the luck to take a midnight hike with me in the woods. Such good times as I told the prequel to Blair Witch — before there was a Blair Witch — (should I get royalties?) — to an unsuspecting gaggle of moon-faced kids that I scared the ever-lovin’ crap out of but good.

 

I still feel a little bad about that. I don’t think Lori Swisher ever forgave me.

 

Meanwhile, please post your fondest/scariest/kissiest summer camp story as a submission in the comments OR post in your blog and leave a link to your blog in the comments.

 

First time to PROMPTuesday? Read a bit about it here.
Want to see what’s been written in the past? Catch up on the PROMPTuesdays archive here.

 

Chemical Peel Deal

Longtime readers will remember when I had a chemical peel before my 40th birthday. (I’ve posted links to the pictures TOO many times. No need to traumatize anyone further.) Anyway, if I do say so, after the procedure, my skin looked fabulous and exfoliated and fresh as a nine-year-old’s butt. (I don’t think my skin will ever approach “newborn butt” status again.)

 

Well it’s been awhile since I’ve done a peel and I’m gonna do one again! And the cool thing is? It’s only $29 because of a smokin’ deal. (My peel in 2008 was $400.)

 

As of June 14, there’s two days left to get in on the deal, so I wanted to pass it on. If you do it, let me know. Maybe we can meet up for coffee and Advil after the peel.