Antisocial Activity

Lately, I really haven't done too much social networking. It's funny, I used to have times when I couldn't imagine not "facebooking" for a day! Now I could easily go through a day and not check it.

Springtime usually brings the feelings we all associate with it: renewal, rebirth, growth, wanting to be outside taking part in all nature has to offer, wanting to clean out, start fresh and enjoy the longer days. So far this year, I have some of the feelings, but not a lot of motivation to back them up. The kids totally have Spring Fever.

Tate is letting things slide at school. I think because she has made A/B honor roll twice, she thinks she can rest on her laurels. But her grades are slipping and for the past two report cards, she has not made the honor and has disappointed herself. Honor roll is not something I am going to militantly push, but we know she can do it...and if she doesn't she shouldn't be too far off the mark. She has been lying about homework. I had tried to remedy this a few different ways, but we constantly ended up butting heads over it. So, I decided to give her enough rope to hang herself. And sure enough, she did. Her teacher called me, with her in the office and we discussed it. It's frustrating because it looks like I don't care. I totally do! It's just that since Tate spends almost all of her time with me alone, she doesn't believe I know anything about anything. She's at the stage where she knows it all. And after a while, my words don't even register, so I figured actions would provide a better result. The call was about a week ago. We are still struggling with it, I am having to double-check everything and keep in close contact with her teacher.

Things at home aren't great, but it's all the usual problems. I'm wiped out from having to take care of the kids about 85% of the time by myself. Money is tight. There seem to be some issues with the whole equal partnership thing. For me, it's simply not working. I'm not sure what the resolution is, but I've got to figure it out.

Since I am home alone with the kids most of the time, I'm wicked lonely. All of my friends either live far away, work 9-5's or have families of their own. I can't really get any "hang out" time.

My parents are having various maladies and that is upsetting. It's frustrating to watch them be in pain and not do a whole lot about it. With some things, there's not a lot to be done. With others, more could be done if they pursued it. I love them and want them to feel the best they can. It breaks my heart when they don't.

Work is slow, so I've been having spells where I question what I do for a living. Sure, I make people pretty...but what a superficial thing to be known for. People like my photography, but not enough to pay for it. And that's pretty much it except for the latest endeavor of sampling out cosmetics that are not readily available for testing. I am working on new things to offer to sample, but all of these things require a nest egg to get going.

Which brings me to my next thing, I blew my tax money. Breezed right through it, like a moron. Now I don't have much to take with me to London in April. And whatever "therapeutic" shopping I did didn't help much since I still feel like crap. I KNOW the things I SHOULD do, but I don't do them. It's my bad, for sure. As ungrateful as it sounds, I wish I could pass on the trip this year. It's never really a vacation, it's just my life here transplanted to London for two weeks. I can be lonely and frustrated here for free.

So if you haven't seen me around, I haven't called you back or replied to your email, this is why. I've slacked off on the beauty blog too, since I can't really bring myself to do more than wash my face or brush my hair lately. I can't set an example as a good beauty blogger if I cannot bring myself to actually do anything that involves the beauty products I need to test or review.

I love my Facebook friends dearly. There are so very many of you that I wished lived closer. I've got virtual friends who are emotionally closer to me than some people who live near me. It just seems that with my current frame of mind, some things are beyond the virtual reach of the interwebs. But don't give up on me yet, I'm figuring it out.

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Happiness Project - Days 6 &7

I think Kevin Spacey's smile is infectious, whether there's lots of teeth, a hint or totally closed-mouth.  
He's one of those people who totally smiles with his whole face.  
In my opinion, a smile only counts when you can see it in the eyes as well.
And even with the photo with the slightest can see it in his eyes.

When I did a Google image search for "smile",  the second image to pop up belongs to a friend of mine who is an illustrator.  His name is Matthew Wilson and he's amazing.  Smart, funny, an artist with a myriad of talents...there are many reasons to check out his work.

Guess what? He blogs and blogs!
Know what else? He tweets!
What could be better? You can buy stuff he makes!
So, what are you waiting for? Go!

Pig Mud Happy Smile

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Happiness Project - Day 5

There is a song by the Beastie Boys that has a lyric that kills me every time I hear it.
The song is called Hey, Fuck You.  I know, it's charming.
The lyric is "So put a quarter in yo' ass 'cause you played yourself."


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I'm Late, I'm Late...

Well, I've had a whirlwind of the past few days.  I went to see Radiohead on Thursday.  I recovered from the drive to Atlanta and back (to see Radiohead) on Friday.  Then I had to work out of town yesterday.  I hadn't even cracked open my laptop until just now.

So, without further adieu: 

 "Every morning, I've got a new chance.." - Britt Daniels

 My Mom makes great Southern fare.  Livermush and eggs.  Pintos and cornbread.  Nom.

My Babies

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Come On, Get Happy

I haven't posted in a while simply because things have been going pretty smoothly, it seems like I only have the motivation to write here when I am faced with a battle or injustice.  Tate started 4th grade.  She hasn't been on any medication this year and she has managed to make the A/B honor roll twice so far!  I'm so very proud of her.  The biggest problem we've had is some bullying from a girl Tate has shared a class with since pre-school.  Go figure.

In the meantime, I've been stuck in the same rut I always seem to be in.  Not necessarily upset or depressed about any one thing in particular, but restless, unsettled...and I suppose, generally unhappy.  In light of this, I have decided to take part in a 30-day "Happiness" project.  I figure it can't hurt to try to up the levels of happiness.  So here goes:

I was pregnant with Tate here. 2002

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12 Months Later

I'm sure, if you follow me on Facebook, then you are probably sick and tired of hearing me talk about my hospital stay a year ago.

I started posting about it on the day I was admitted. I let it go for a while, but seeing that it's the 17th of September, I realized I was in the lowest lows of my life on this day last year. A lot of this post consists of fragmented sentences. I'm just rattling things off the top of my head.

At this point, I had been in the hospital for 18 days. I had gallbladder surgery that left me with a perforated diaphragm. Because of the infection associated with the gallbladder, I had what is called "sympathetic" fluid in my lung and on both sides of my diaphragm. I had been on an intensive care-type floor because I had respiratory distress. I had countless x-rays and MRIs. I had two drains coming out of me, one from my bile duct and one from my liver. I had my lung vacuumed out when I had my lung puncture. And I cannot forget, I had that barbaric "procedure" where I was given a chest tube. Not only did I have an inch thick tube coming out of my lung, it was connected to a box on the floor. I was tethered to my bed on a very short leash.

I had two IV stands that were filled with various bags of things I needed: nutrition, fluids, antibiotics, something to treat a fungal infection, something else to restore the good bacteria into my digestive system...I can't even remember what else. And all of these fluids entered my body via a PICC line that had to be placed by a cardiologist because it had a threadlike thing that goes towards the heart. It was supposed to reduce the times I would have to have blood drawn, but after a couple days they weren't able to get blood out if it, so it was back to the old way. Shot after shot, needles after needles. Being awakened in the wee hours so they could get an oxygenated blood specimen. Having my finger pricked multiple times a day. Insulin every now and then. Shots in my stomach for something I can't remember.

Sticky patches stuck to me for the entire time. Those damn things they keep on your legs to keep the blood circulating. Awful hospital food. Not being able to shower at all. Hospital beds that hurt after the first week. Not being able to sleep well. Only being given pain meds every 4 to 6 hours even though they wore off after two. Nebulizers I'd have to practice breathing with for 15 minutes at a time, a few times a day. Do you know how stupid it feels to have to concentrate on breathing? This is something we take for granted. Inhale...exhale. Our bodies do that on autopilot everyday!

Then there was physical therapy so I could get back to walking. Sure, it sounds easy enough, but it's not when you have a bum lung and your legs are weak from being laid up for weeks.

I laid and watched Mad Men. Then it was every brain-rotting Housewives show on Bravo. There was the huge PG&E gas line explosion in California. I learned Thunderheart is one of the most depressing films ever. I was intrigued by the ads for The Walking Dead, but hated seeing the ad where Rick falls out of his hospital bed in the first episode.

But the worst part of it all was the NOT knowing. When would I get out? Would I get out? Were the doctors sure I wouldn't die? What would go wrong next? What horrible procedure would I face the next day?

When I was on the intensive care-type floor, I asked my doctor if I was going to live. He reassured me all would be well, but there were so many unknowns. And I'm not sure if I mentioned this in my post after all this happened or not, but the second week I was in, I seriously considered taking my own life. I was in so much pain and so miserable. No one had any answers and I had a very hard time trying to visualize my life returning to normal. I mean, I couldn't even talk without getting winded. I was in such a state, I didn't want any of my loved ones to see me like that, especially my kids. I really did want to down too many sleeping pills and end the daily pain and torture. I experienced pure hopelessness. It wasn't terrifying to think about it, I guess I was just so worn down at that point (and this was before the chest tube). I would get sad and cry about all of the things I would miss in my kids' lives, but I wasn't afraid to die...I didn't even look at it that way. I just wanted the hospital experience to end.

It took me about 5 months to fully recover, complete with in-home nursing for a while, as well as tanks of oxygen for me to use, if needed. I have 11 scars to remind me of my nightmare. Even today, if my cat settles down on my side and happens to stick his foot near just the right ribs, where my chest tube scar is, it hurts.

Have I changed my life after all of this? Sadly, not so much. Things have pretty much reverted to the way they were before I got sick. It makes me sad to see that not much has changed. I suppose I was hoping life would be rosy and new, if only for the simple fact that I survived the roughest time of my life. But the reality is that life goes on with you or without you.

I try to see things in a different light. I am thankful for the second chance I was given and all that I have. Although, I can't help but feel disappointed with myself that I haven't "seized the day" as much as I wish I could. The routine of being a mom, with two young kids and a husband who works an insane number hours a week, really doesn't leave much room for anything else, apart from complete exhaustion. I hope that one day I can figure it out. For now, I have to be thankful that I am here and will be around to experience tomorrow.

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Don't Go Chasing Waterfalls

One thing I have learned this summer is that my kids really love nature. We went on a road trip in July and traveled up the east coast into New England and Canada. Along the way, we stopped at state parks in Connecticut and Maryland, as well as the Lake Conemaugh lake bed in Pennsylvania and a cool little park in Romford, Maine. My kids are drawn to water. They love creeks and streams. And Tate loves the beach. It's the one place I've ever seen her completely acting carefree. At home she stresses about bugs and little things, but at the beach, she throws all caution to the wind and runs for the water. She doesn't even think about fish, crabs and all of the other little critters you can find there.

So, I felt the next logical step, once we settled in back at home, would be to check out the North Carolina state parks and natural areas. Since the kids enjoy water, I've specifically searched for places that have things they may enjoy. I have a shortlist of locations that are considered kid-friendly and decided to start with Looking Glass falls, which are near where my Dad lives.

Today, I can tell you, I've learned that "don't go chasing waterfalls" is not just a line from a TLC song. It started out innocuous enough. My Mom, my kids and I drove to my Dad's and from there we headed out for the falls. My Dad's neighbor said he knew exactly where they are and gave my Dad directions. I grew a little concerned once we were getting close because I had not seen anything I had expected to see along the way there. I have a friend who went recently and did a pretty good job of documenting the journey there. I decided to just cast those doubts aside and figured perhaps we were approaching from a different direction or something.

At last, we arrived at the overlook for Looking Glass Rock. We were told that once you park there, you cross the road (the Blue Ridge Parkway) and get on the trail to the falls. It should only be a 1/3 mile hike. Everything I had read online was that the falls were easily accessible and the walk was easy for children. As we started, the trail was fine. But it wasn't very long before there were tons of exposed roots, many rocks and inclines and descents that were steep and hard for the adults to get proper footing, much less the 4-year-old and the 8-year-old. And we walked and walked, seemed like forever. Occasionally, we would pass some hikers coming in the opposite direction and they would give us some idea of how much farther we had to go. At one point we had to climb these precarious dirt and log "stairs" and as soon as I saw them, my brain started trying to tell my body, "No, I'm not going there!" Every step had me tense with my leg muscles shaking. But once again, we all persevered and got through it. We thought it was encouraging when a hiker explained that we only had to crest one more hill and we would be at the falls.

It took us about an hour from start to finish, to hike the trail to the falls. But once we got there, it was really quite lovely. We went down some wooden stairs to a small bridge that crossed over the water. Great! Pretty! Worthy of photos.

I only took a couple of things with me on the hike. My camera was in it's case, hooked to my belt loop. My keys were in my left pocket. I had a bandana to keep my hair back once it started curling up and becoming unruly. And last but not least, I wore my sunglasses. At some point, I put my sunglasses in my pocket. On the bridge, I realized they weren't on my head so I reached into my pocket to get them.

This moment is insane and kinda difficult to explain properly. Some bizarre, cosmic thing happened. A fluke. When I pulled my sunglasses out, apparently my keys were hooked onto one of the earpieces and were catapulted into the water below. It happened in slow motion and very the same time. I couldn't believe it. I was dumbstruck and I would say speechless, but a litany of profanity came spewing forth. One good thing was that the water was very clear and I could see where the keys landed. They weren't carried off by the water and they were on the side closest to where I was. Unfortunately, the only way down that side was by descending these flat, steep rocks. (It's hard to tell in the photo. The red circle shows where my keys landed.)

My mind started racing. My car was the only car we drove there. Dominic is the only other person with keys to the car. He was in Charlotte and even if he could get away from work, he is horrible with directions and never would've been able to find us anyway. My Mom is spazzy like I am, so I could just see her injuring herself if she tried to get the keys. And my Dad offered, but he's got a foot that's not too great, so I didn't want him to hurt himself either. I was the youngest and allegedly the most fit, right? Right. I had to do it. If anyone was going to, it had to be me.

I began to descend down these flat and sloping rocks. There was lots of butt-sliding like a kid does when they are afraid to go down stairs. Once I found a safe spot to ditch my shoes, camera and sunglasses, I did. Then I set foot in the water. HOLY MOLY it was cold!! Mountain water is COLD! I baby-stepped at first, but why prolong the agony? But with each real step I took, the water got about 2 feet higher!! It was crazy. It took my breath away! I tried to stop to take a second and catch my breath, but it wasn't happening. And, unfortunately for all of my family who was present, I was dropping f-bombs left and right. By the time I got close to my keys, the water was past my shoulders!

I began to worry that I had hallucinated where my keys were or if they would be beyond my reach or something I'd have to try to pick up with my feet. Oh no, what if I missed and knocked them off the ledge they were on and they got carried off downstream? I really didn't want to take any more steps, so I swam a little bit, stretched out my arm as far as I could and grasped around until I had the keys. They were firmly in my hand and they were staying there until I could get to solid ground!

I got back to where my belongings were and got my shoes back on, reattached my camera to my belt loop and decided to add my keys to the hook that attached my camera case to me. Then the task of scaling the rocks back up to the bridge was before me. I'll be the first to admit, I am a complete spaz. I lack all coordination and I've always tried to avoid situations where it was needed. Over the past couple of years, I've become more and more interested in hiking and some mild climbing. When I hiked up part of the rim of Mt. Ubehebe in Death Valley in 2010, I knew it was something I'd want to do again. Unfortunately, I hadn't done that much of it. All the best laid plans and good intentions, right? But I found myself doing what I had to do and carefully placing my hands and feet and using muscles I never intended on using that day. My Dad was waiting towards the top and helped get me to my feet. After that, my arms and legs were like spaghetti and I was pretty much ready to go.

BUT, we hadn't really seen any of the areas around the falls. I wanted more photos. So, my parents took the kids and I did some more mild climbing and hiking to get some photos. It wasn't so bad, apart from trying to stay still long enough for a photo...and being drenched from head to toe. I took a change of clothes for the kids. Never imagined I would be the one needing some!

After all the photos were snapped and I made my way back to my family, we had to hike all the way back to the car. That was about another hour of hiking. Once we got to the car, I was absolutely gobsmacked to find that my keyless entry remote still worked! I had written that off!

The punchline of this entire story is that my Dad's neighbor gave us directions to Skinny Dip Falls, which are across from Looking Glass Rock.

Looking Glass Falls are somewhere else entirely different. We drove around and found them. Looking Glass Falls are beautiful and have concrete steps down to them. It's a minute's walk. Totally ridiculous, but an adventure all the same.

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