Friday, September 24, 2010

My personal Netflix

I have been toying with the idea of joining Netflix.    There are a lot of movies I missed over the years and would like to see.   There are also some more recent television shows that I've heard raves about but haven't seen -- either they are off the air already or several seasons in.   All good reasons to consider Netflix.

However, I have found a personal alternative.  True, the DVDs aren't delivered to my mailbox -- I have to pick them up a couple of blocks away.  I may also have to consider something that's not my number 1 choice at the time.  But, for one week anyway, I can have up to 5 titles at no cost.  

My "Netflix"?   My public library system.   Through my online account, I can create and keep lists of titles that I want to borrow.  I can check the availability and place a reserve on what I want to see next.   There are 4 local libraries within minutes of my home or office, and, if they are the owning library, I can pick them up that day.  Otherwise, I can request that they be shipped to my local library and I can get them the next.  So far, out of a list of several dozen titles I've amassed, there has been only one that is not owned somewhere in the county.  

I'm not ruling out the red envelope entirely.  But for now, I am satisfied to live with my $0 per month alternative.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


OK, so I guess it wasn't REALLY about cell phones.  In retrospect, I realize that the whole cell phone rant was about being unable to communicate whenever and wherever I am, being disconnected (from my daughters, especially), dealing with my budgetary issues, and, not least, still adjusting to doing everything myself.

And it was about loss.  About losing -- without warning -- the contents of an object that had been with me almost constantly for three years, since before my life, as I knew it then, was shattered.

Late August 2007: Just days before my older daughter went off to college, we (all four family members)  hopped into the car, heading for the nearby phone store so we could all acquire "real" cell phones.  This was how we were all going to stay connected with each other: family plan, no limitations on calling among ourselves.  Initially I got the "plain Jane" handset, while the other three got fancier phones.  When I got home, for the first (and, so far, only) time in my life, I got "technology-envy".  So back we went and I swapped my "plain Jane" black-no-camera model for a sharp-looking, shiny, fiery-red model with texting and camera (not that I was ever planning to use them, mind you). 

When my life imploded less a few weeks later, that little red device became my lifeline; in my unbearable pain, my talisman.  Though, of course it couldn't really avert evil or bring good luck, it was a critical tool for coping with the destruction of my life around me.  I remember, immediately after receiving the Rejection Speech, when I simply could not stay in that house for one more minute, when I knew I was incapable of driving safely, when all I could do was walk away....  Phone in hand, I got as far as the end of the block, where I collapsed on the ground and called my sister to break the incomprehensible news.  Weeks later, I sat on a swing at the local elementary school playground and, through my wracking sobs, just two clicks would "contact" a friend, so I could just let it out.  On late night/early morning walks when I couldn't sleep, I carried it with me, for comfort as much as for security.   When my younger daughter's therapist would call to touch base prior to an appointment, I would pull off the road and park to talk to her.

On that mere four ounces of electronics, I had photos my older daughter sent me from the National Mall on the frigid day of the President's inauguration, when she walked several miles because the Metro was overcrowded.  There were text messages from my daughters, saved from their victories, large and small, and from their reaching out to me for advice or simply to express their thanks or their love.  The texts were locked to prevent accidental deletion, and were there for me to read over and over whenever I needed to remind myself why I had to continue to do whatever had to be done.  Because they needed me to be there, for whatever reason.

Three years later, I'm (mostly) used to doing everything by myself.   It's not like I have a choice, is it?   I'm even at the point where I find myself doing the most of the legwork toward finally divorcing.  Partially by my choice (goal of saving money since we've dealt with the property/financial stuff), but partially because of his inertia.  It's time.  I'm ready.  And, for my own reasons, I don't want to wait until he decides to make it a priority in his life and in his schedule.  I know how long that can take. 

But sometimes, in a moment of weakness or mental exhaustion, I'm hit with the memory that I used to have someone to share the responsibility: to take out the trash, to clean the litter box, to work with me to put the shelving unit together, to stop and get milk on the way home.   Someone to compliment and thank me, to make me coffee in the morning, to listen when I had a bad day, to tell me that it would be OK -- whatever "it" was -- that we would get through it together. 

Now, I have to be all about DIY.

Follow-up: Within 48 hours,  I'm supposed to have a refurbished "stupid" phone.  Don't really want much more right now, and it's all I can afford, especially since I have now taken over paying the bill for the girls and me.  The one bright side?  It will be purple.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Cell phones and cows

WARNING : annoying, cranky, whiny post ahead

My cell phone is acting up.  Big deal, huh?  Not for me.  Not when it's my connection to both my daughters at college.  Anything that decreases my availability to my daughters shakes me to the core. A few years ago I joked that I wanted my mythical gravestone to read "She never had a cell phone."  Then my daughters became teenagers and one went away to college. Cell phone = lifeline = necessity.

This disastrous-for-me development comes when I am definitely not in a position to drop a couple hundred bucks on a new one and just when I thought I might get a little bit ahead.  (Hah!  Dream on!)

One of my health-related goals (#34) was to check out gyms/fitness centers, and, if I could find one with a location that wasn't round Robin Hood's barn from my house and didn't cost another mortgage payment, I would join and begin to get some structured physical activity into my life.  During the worst of the past few years, I was a member of a local fitness center and was -- for the first time in my lengthy life -- fairly regular in my attendance. Then it closed.  In addition to the physical exercise, I discovered it was an excellent way to deal with the abundance of anxiety I carried with me in that period.   For whatever reason, my anxiety level is, once again, ramping up, so it seemed that the time is right. Last week I visited a place not too far away that is promising, and I am giving serious consideration to membership.

In addition to the fee for the gym, I had hoped to acquire and load music on an MP3 player (#96) so I had music to listen to while exercising.    Yeah, I know I could get outside and walk. Walking is free, you say. Autumn weather generally lends itself to being outdoors, you observe. Unfortunately, it also heralds the following season, winter, with its ever earlier darkness, low temperatures, and ready-made excuses to withdraw into my home and myself.   But I know myself and walking is not something I can "force" myself to do on a regular schedule -- and, even if  I could, I'd need music for that too.  (Whine, whine, whine...)

I know that there are many people out there who lack the basics of food, shelter, medical care, employment -- all of which I have, at least for now.  I am very aware that there are people around me who have lost loved ones recently or who are in fresh pain from rejection.  I know that I am, relatively speaking, fortunate in many ways.  But the past several years have taken away so much of the life I expected to have that the little things can take on far more importance than they ever should.  Like that proverbial straw on the camel, some days it takes merely a small glitch to throw me off into the Land of OverWhelmed and Anxious.  Things that should be, and used to be easy to deal with, become obstacles that require more reserves of effort than I feel I have. 

So, today, I am a major C.O.W. (Thanks, Nancy)

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Spreading the words: "Hope" and "Recovery"

"Conventional therapy holds that eating disorders are not about eating anyway, but about control.­" -- Harriet Brown, author of  Brave Girl Eating and mother of a daughter recovering from anorexia.

Daniel Le Grange, director of the Eating Disorders Program at the University of Chicago Medical Center, maintains that it [conventional therapy] accomplishes little. "There's no evidence that understanding what causes an eating disorder helps the adolescent recover," he says. "But we know that if you give the child medicine—in this case it's food—she has a much better chance of recovery."(Quoted in this article in "U.S. News & World Report.")

Why didn't I know about this three and a half years, 2 residential center stays of 3 weeks each, thousands of dollars (mostly unreimbursed by health insurance), hundreds of therapy hours ago?  Thankfully, a little over a year ago, I found someone familiar with "Maudsley" to validate the gut impulse I had in early 2007 -- when all I wanted to do was to feed my child.   Until then, I was cautioned not to be the "food police", that she had to "choose" to get better, and all manner of other bull**** by the "professionals" who claimed experience and knowledge.  I realize now that what they could not claim was success.   They poked and prodded mentally at her and at our family -- all but accusing us (primarily me) of causing this life-threatening illness. 

If a child had cancer, would medical personnel refuse to treat until they knew what had "caused" the cancer?  Would doctors tell the parents to keep their hands off, that the child had to "choose" recovery, that she had to be totally responsible for taking her medicine, even though she didn't want to and every part of her rejected it, and therefore, she most certainly would not??? 

Daily, I thank God for the therapist who helped us work together -- primarily my precious child and I -- to allow her to make sufficient progress that 3 weeks ago, she could go away to college!   We prepared in all the usual ways -- clothes, school supplies, dorm decorations, textbooks.  But, in addition, a support system involving several people had to be designed and put in place.  Now that she is physically stable, she is able to work with a therapist to deal with problems that co-existed with her eating disorder, but which were all too often treated as fused or causal -- problems that are not uncommon in adolescence, problems that are experienced by multitudes of children, most of whom (thankfully) are not in danger of falling into the clutches of an eating disorder.

I know she still struggles at times.  I know she still has "fear foods", but I have trust and faith in her that she has come too far and has too much to lose to go back there, and that she knows that too.   Perhaps someday we will be able to celebrate a full recovery -- victory over ED -- together.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Month 2 down (August 2010)

Not a big month for progress.  Probably had to do with all those daughters and preparing for college and all that.  Did read a couple of books and see some movies.

Completed only one thing:
5. Empty storage space by 9/1/10  (8/28/10) --but that one thing saves me some money each month

48. Watched movies (12/125):
       Inception (at theatre)
       Julie and Julia
       Away we go
       Royal Tenenbaums
       Vicky Cristina Barcelona
49. Read books (4/60, 3 owned, 1 library)
       Alice Hoffman: Practical magic
       Alice Sebold: Lucky
       Julia Scheeres: Jesus Land

Made progress (a little or a lot) on:
 7. De-clutter, discard project is on track.  I tend to hit a mother lode of stuff to get
    rid of and then have a day or two where I have to search for something.  Ahead
    by 27 items at end of August. 
31. Car and cell phone plans are now separated from H.  (Goodbye money saved
    by finishing #5!)
42. Help D#2 get her driver's license.  (8/14/10 -- took her to renew her permit)
68. Machine quilted baby quilt for A.M.'s granddaughter.
84. Additional donation to church for special music program.

And, of course,
  99. Updated blog with progress report on Day Zero Project
101. Wrote one additional blog post in August.

Looking ahead, I need/want to focus in September on:
6. Organization: basement
25, 27, 29: Financial/legal paper work
65-69: Hobbies: baby quilts & C.B.'s