Saturday, January 21, 2012

What I Do While I Sleep ...

I have very little in life to complain about, but I'll have to admit that I don't like this 5:00 a.m. schedule that the Jazzman is currently working. His alarm goes off at 4:08, and then he hits the snooze button and I lie there waiting for it to go off again at 4:15. He then tiptoes around getting ready to leave, leans down and kisses me good-bye around 4:35, then putters around the kitchen until around 4:50. Some Most days I am so completely wide awake, I cannot go back to sleep.

This morning I was awake with a headache at 3:00. My Excedrin finally kicked in around 6:15, and I slept until 7:30. But, oh, did I dream.

I was living in Washington again. My boys were about the current ages of my grandchildren. I decided to go out for a bike ride. But this was my Mother's hand-me-down bike. (Please acknowledge that my mother is 98!! And 8 months!!) (And that I haven't ridden a bike in, oh, 20 years.)

I decided to ride over to a Georgetown neighborhood I knew to find a café for a cup of tea and a pastry. I was balancing a little pillow (of Mother's that currently sits on our couch) to make the bicycle seat more comfortable. I had my iPhone and was carrying a pair of Tyler's outgrown pajamas.

As I was riding along, I couldn't remember where the café was - which way to turn. I stopped by the side of a residential road and —out of the blue — there was my late husband's daughter. She was older-looking (she's 51), heavier and taller (she's 5'2" on a tall day) and with a man I didn't know (prompting me to wonder if she and her saintly husband had separated). I told her my dilemma and she pointed me in the direction I needed to go. After she left, I realized I forgot to ask her if she got the package I sent her at Christmas. (I sent her a video I found of her dad's ski trips to Italy, and she has yet - a month later - to acknowledge receipt!) And then I remembered I meant to give her the pajamas for one of her sons.

I looked on my iPhone at the map app to confirm where I was trying to go, and suddenly my phone was infected with a virus. I was worried about having left the boys alone for so long, but couldn't get the phone to give me a screen to dial out. I realized I needed to get my phone to the Apple store to have someone look at it and clean out the virus.

So I got back on my bike and started rising towards Wisconsin and M to find the Apple store. I took a wrong turn and was lost again. I stopped my bike, walked into a dry cleaner, and asked them where the Apple store was. The man at the counter was on the phone, but a young woman gave me directions.

I got back on my bike and … woke up.


Now do you see why I hate going back to sleep after the Jazzman leaves? When I wake up from one of these dreams, I'm exhausted!!

Friday, January 06, 2012

How Do You Express Your Stress?

The first time the Jazzman stayed over, I confessed that I wear a bite guard when I sleep. During my four years of ultrastress with Evil Ex-Fiancé From Hell, I became a grinder. Two days before leaving for a three-week trip to France, Switzerland and Germany, my jaw froze and I could only open my mouth 1". Oh, the amount of exquisite European cuisine that went uneaten on that trip!

The Jazzman has been very kind and attentive in helping me remember to wear my bite guard. Last night, just before rolling over and closing his eyes, he said, "Don't forget to put your guard in." Ever the elegant communicator, I responded, "Oh, screw it."

He is no fool. He knows the amount of stress I'm feeling right now. At least twice a week I wake him from a dead sleep and say, "I heard something." He knows!

When I indicated so eloquently that I didn't want to put my guard in, he said, "You won't have any teeth left."

So I bit the bullet, er, the bite guard.

I personally think that's a sign of genuinely caring about someone—when not only do you not mind that she sleeps with a bite guard, you help her remember to wear it.

Awwww. Aren't I lucky?

Thursday, January 05, 2012

2011 - in Words

There's a Facebook gadget called "Year in Status". The program will (allegedly) look at your status updates over the past year and pull out the most frequently used words, making them into a "cloud map" sort of image.

The past year held challenges galore for me, so I thought it would be interesting to see how my status updates mapped out into the image.

Alas, it appears all the program did was to look at my five most recent status updates and throw some of those words into the mix. And that really had to do with what my year was like.

So I just went into Photoshop and pondered the past year.

Here's how the year mapped out, in my mind.

At the center of my world is this wonderful relationship I have with the Jazzman. He lights up every corner of my world. Second to him are my grandchildren, who hold my heart in their sweet little hands. My singing with the Cleveland Orchestra Chorus rounds out the center of my world. (And I mustn't forget my kitties, who keep me company every day.)

Continuing to explore this cloud:
  • Travel - a fabulous trip to Ireland and our yearly 4th of July at Lake Erie.

  • Work - many enjoyable hours keeping the Covelli Panera website up-to-date.

  • Activities - hours spent knitting, sewing, beading, and other works-with-hands.

  • Social Life - we have an astounding group of friends; some combination of these wonderful people have dinner together almost every Saturday night.

Hanging over and dimming the beauty of the year (these words are shown in a deep gray, upside down and backwards, to diminish their power over my life:
  • Mother's Broken Hip - many hours and many miles behind the wheel; every second or third week driving to Asheville all summer long

  • Vandals - Rocks - Broken Windows - three times during December, my living room windows were broken by vandal(s) throwing rocks. My sense of peace and security has been shattered. It's once of the worst incidents of my life.

  • Loss of Income - my client base decreased and my income seriously dropped, leaving me worried about how I was going to pay my bills for several months out of the year. At age 61, I felt this was not a place I should have landed, and it caused much despair. I was able to toss some balls in the air and catch them adroitly, so things actually came out better than they were before. But there were many, many days when my financial stress level was through the roof.

And over it all, a heart. Next week will be two years since the Jazzman and I met. I have never known 365 continuous days—much less 730 continuous days— of comfort and contentment and love and acceptance and support. He is a miracle in my life, and my heart overflows with joy for our life together.

That's my year.

An Open Letter

Dear Troubled Person/People Who Insist on Attacking My Home:

I used to be a champion sleeper. I would lie in my bed and read a few pages of the book on my nightstand, or solve a few words in a Washington Post crossword puzzle, or work on a Sudoku puzzle, or write a few sentences in my journal, or just listen to a little soothing music. Then I would drift, peacefully, off to sleep. I might wake once to use the bathroom, but then I would immediately fall back to sleep and awaken a minute before my alarm would go off in the morning.

Now all that has changed. I hear every little sound all night long. Every creak in my 84-year-old home makes me think you're trying to come in. Every car that slowly approaches my corner is surely driven by you or your getaway driver. Last night I got up to go to the bathroom at 2:15 and heard someone—surely you—outside my house, talking. It was twenty-some degrees outside. Who would be standing outside at 2:15, talking, in that weather unless he were a "bad guy"?

When my partner leaves in the early morning for work, I lie in my bed—alert to noises, afraid to move, unwilling to walk downstairs—until daylight. Gone are the days when I look forward to morning, to getting up and accomplishing things before the rest of the world rises.

I am so angry at you. I vacillate between wanting to sob and wanting to scream at you. Why have you done this to me? What on earth did I do to you to cause you to want to destroy my life like this?

Last week I was sick all week. On the nights I took NyQuil or cough medicine, I was able to sleep. I don't want to have to resort to taking medication to be able to sleep! I want my peaceful house back—my house where I wasn't afraid to sit in my basement and sew until all hours or to walk to the kitchen in the middle of the night.

Now I just feel like you're watching me all the time, waiting for the next time you're going to throw a rock. Or worse.

We've had to make previously unnecessary expenditures because of your actions. We have spent hundreds of dollars upgrading our security system. We have spent hundreds of dollars repairing broken windows. We cancelled three nights at a Florida resort because of you, and that opportunity is now gone.

But most of all, you have instilled an unnatural and unnecessary fear into me.

Maybe you're done. Maybe those three attacks were all you had intended for me and now you've moved on to some other recreational activity. But I don't know. You've never told me why you're doing it or when you're going to do it, and for all I know, tonight—and tonight, and tonight—is the night you're going to strike me again. So I stay awake, listening.

This entire episode of my life is beyond my realm of understanding. I don't know how to get my sleep patterns back. I don't know how to not feel so sad and so angry.

I can only hope that you're done terrorizing me, and that someday—years from now—you'll look back and say, "What on earth was I thinking? I'm so ashamed of my behavior."

(No, there have been no further attacks beyond the initial three, but the damage to my psyche is done and I'm having a hard time dealing with it.)