When you don’t have enough for an entire post…

You just go with bullets and hope that you have enough random nonsense for an entire post.  Right?  Yes.

  • Today is one of those days where it’s so hot that you sweat just by existing.  I got out of the shower and I was already sweating.  Just ew
  • Puppy Duke fractured his toe.  I don’t even know how he did it, but now he’s all jacked up on painkillers and limping around and it’s the saddest thing ever.  It will take 3 weeks for his foot to heal, so we just have to keep the 6 month old puppy calm until then.  Oh yes, that’s a piece of cake.
  • Went to a wedding this weekend with Gilmore.  One of his friends was getting married and honestly?  The most adorable wedding ever.  Mike and Casey love each other so much it hurts.  You can tell they are going to be together forever and still love each other as much every day as they did on Saturday.  The wedding was great and the reception was even better.
  • Another thing I love?  The fact that Gilmore’s friends have just taken me in like I totally belong.  They’re all so nice to me and tell Gilmore how wonderful I am.  Which is true – i AM wonderful.
  • I’ve been doing a lot of baking lately – which I love.  It always makes me happy.
  • It’s hard to believe it’s July.  I don’t know where time goes anymore.
  • Things at my house are settling down now, after last week’s discovery with my dad.  My parents were in Vermont for the weekend and I think that really helped them to settle down and realize that we can handle this.
  • Oh, and my dad has Lyme now too.  As an added bonus.
  • This weekend is my cousin’s baby shower.  It’s hard to believe that the baby could be born really any time now – her due date is the end of July/beginning of August.  I’m so excited for this baby to come along.  Like, really.  I can’t wait for the new baby.  It’s been a while since there’s been a baby in the family.  And now I’m at an age where I care about babies
  • The baby shower on the other hand?  It’s a disaster.  And not in a “wow, this is going to be a terrible shower” sort of way, but more in a “what have you done with this?” sort of way.  My uncle’s wife is coordinating everything and instead of going low key (which is what my cousin wants), we’re having a random lunch at this place that is charging us $40/person and she asked my cousin’s husband for money to help cover the costs of this thing.  My uncle’s wife invited all these random people that my cousin doesn’t even really know and it’s just spiraled out of control.  So – that will be fun on Sunday, right?
  • This is the last weekend home before I’ve got two back to back weekends in Vermont.  And then it’s Tessa’s wedding.  It’s hard to believe that time is already here.
  • Also?  Cape Cod vacation is right around the corner.  Holy cow, how did that happen?
  • Neither my manager nor the VP of the department are in the office today…which leaves me in charge.  That’s kind of scary.
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Yesterday was…not so good

Here’s the thing about my dad – he’s a real dude.  That’s the only way to put it.  He doesn’t flinch away from pain, he only goes to the doctor when he’s like, dying and getting stitches?  No big deal to him.  He takes out his own stitches if he can.  He’s hardcore.  He’s just…I don’t know.  He’s really pretty healthy, considering how hard he works.  My dad is a landscaper.  He plows snow and delivers wood in the winter.  He’s a busy guy and he works himself to the bone, but I know he loves it.

Plus, he can buy big trucks and then drive them around. BONUS.

My dad had some sort of lump in his neck.  The doctor found it during my dad’s physical.  Thankfully, my mom works with an endocrinologist, and we were able to get him an appointment right away.  They biopsied the lump.  As it turns out, my dad has thyroid cancer.

It could be worse.  It could be much worse.  But it’s the C word.  My grandpa died of the C word.  And it’s terrifying to all of us.  But they will remove his thyroid and he’ll (hopefully) be okay.

I’m having a hard time with this.  Maybe because no matter what has happened to my dad, he’s always been fine.  It’s never really required anything major and he bounces back quickly.  But having his thyroid removed?  That’s not going to be easy on him and it’s not going to be easy for us.  My dad does not take to “bed rest” well.  He doesn’t sit still – unless it’s 11 PM and he’s fallen asleep in his chair.  He doesn’t ever take time off from work (save for 1 week in August to go to Cape Cod) and he’ll never admit defeat.

Things will be different around my house for a while.  My dad hasn’t told my grandma what’s going on yet – and we haven’t really told anyone outside of my mom and my brother.  My dad knows that he needs to tell everyone what’s going on.  And I know that no matter how insane my family is (which is very insane), they will pull together and be so supportive that it will be disgusting.  I know my uncles will pitch in and my aunts will come to visit and we’ll have everyone we need around us.  We’re a family, and we stick together.

It’s still scary.  Things could still go badly.  But we’ll be okay.  We always are.  And my dad?  He’s one tough dude.

Odds and ends and this and that

I don’t have enough of anything to have a whole blog post about something important – I might as well have a whole blog post about things.
-As if things at work weren’t FUN ENOUGH ALREADY, one of the girls in my department is leaving. Normally, this would just be a bit of a bummer, but she’s really what holds the department together. So we’re all sort of freaking out over here. Which is just how to spend the week after you return from vacation.
-Speaking of vacation – it was awesome. Granted, I started my vacation in tears, but once I got to NOLA, I was feeling better. At least emotionally so. Then I came down with what I think was a sinus infection. Thankfully for me, I got a prescription for antibiotics before I left. Once I started feeling really bad, I started those up and felt better right away. Of course, drinking and staying out late do not help anyone get better. Since I’m lazy, I did not upload pictures. My dear friend Karen did. So check her out for more stuff.
-Sorting through my work emails is taking me forever. Maybe because I’m just not into this. I’m not back into working yet. Still dreaming of being on a beach somewhere. Or at least on a freakin’ cruise ship, drinking a fruity drink and reading.
-My parents have decided to start looking for a new dog. Our dog (Jack) has been so lonely since Jake is gone. He cries at night and finds Jake’s things and drags them to his bed. But of course, there are all these rules about adopting a dog. For instance, my dad does not want a yellow lab because they are “the stupid ones”. My mom doesn’t want a pitbull or any dog with pitbull in it. I don’t agree with any of these statements. I just stay out of it. And when they get ridiculous, I just tell them to stop it.
-All I did last week when I was on vacation was eat. So now I’m back to the grind and realizing…I cannot keep eating. It’s sort of a bummer to realize that.
-Going away for a long weekend next weekend! And yes, I just got back from vacation, but I decided I needed another one. So 21 and I are going on a trip to my family’s house in Vermont. This is the first time that 21 and I are going away together and the first time I’m bringing a boy to the house in Vermont. I’m going to meet up with one of my friends while we’re in Vermont and I’m excited for that. I haven’t seen Tessa since Cashelle’s wedding back in September. And this vacation will be different from my last one, since I really don’t have to go anywhere. We can just go to the house and operate on our own time table, which should be so much more fun than having to work around other people. I really hope 21 enjoys the house…and I really hope a long weekend together doesn’t make us want to murder each other. Although we haven’t wanted to murder each other yet. I haven’t even wanted to really give him a shove. Which says a lot. Because there are many people that I want to shove.
-This weekend is the Special Olympics for my brother. I should be driving up to see him compete on Sunday. He does the speed skating event. Not that he goes fast, but he tries hard. My whole family goes to cheer him on and he loves it. And all the volunteers love Jamie because he’s actually very funny and silly. It should be a good time – and the first time my whole family has been together in weeks. Not that I have a problem with that.
-I realized when I got back from vacation that I have about 4,589 things to do and absolutely no drive to do them. And none of them are really important things. It’s all stuff like exchanging my Canadian dollars into US dollars or getting my ring resized or bringing my change to the bank to get actual dollars and going to the dry cleaners. But I’ve been putting off this stuff as long as I can. I don’t know why either – it’s not like any of those things are hard. I just don’t want to have money or a properly fitting ring, I guess. SARAH. GET YOUR HEAD IN THE GAME.
– Just finished watching the first season of Glee. I wish I could just burst into song whenever I felt like it. I bet I would be in a generally better mood if I could just belt out Proud Mary loudly at my desk when I was feeling like it.
– In a related note, whenever 21 gets out of bed in the morning, he starts singing. Not singing well or singing anything in particular – he just sings. Loudly. So I better be awake when he gets up, otherwise that’s how he wakes me up. It’s weird and sometimes I want to be like “DON’T YOU SEE I HAVE A HANGOVER OMG WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?” but I found myself really missing that over vacation. I really missed that nonsense. I suppose it is like really missing my family. As soon as I’m back, I realize that I’m all good.

Treading water

Yesterday at work I had a talk with my manager for our mid year career discussion.  It was an awkward talk because my manager is new to being a manager and kind of didn’t know what to say to me.  But the conversation came to my work performance and how I’ve just been in a holding pattern lately.

And that’s completely true.  But in my defense, I would be given new responsibilities at work and then have them for 2 weeks before they would be assigned to someone else and I would have something new.  I couldn’t really get into the swing of anything because by the time I finally understood something, it was taken away from me.  That is frustrating.

So I need to get out of this holding pattern.  And it doesn’t apply just to work.

I saw the trainer last night and we took some measurements.  I’ve lost an inch off my waist, which is kind of amazing, but the rest of me has stayed the same.  We had a very serious conversation about my life.

It boiled down to this: ever since the end of September, when I moved back home and everyone left at work, my life has been kind of chaotic.  It’s just been everything all the time.  I had to adjust to living at home again and having to deal with my mom day in and day out.  As I said before, my work responsibilities kept on changing.  So it was hard to find some sort of stability when the only thing I could count on being stable was the idea of chaos and nonsense.

We’re in a new year.  I NEED to get my shit in order.  I can’t keep on making excuses and falling back on the “it’s all crazy!” forever.  I’m going to make the effort.  I’m going to bust my ass at work to get ahead.  I’m going to bust my ass at the gym to make a difference in what I’m doing.  I’ve got the muscles there – I just need them to show.

I have this silly dance coming up in exactly 1 month.  And by then, I want to have lost 5 pounds (which is a tiny amount.  And i know that.  But I’m going to start small and go from there).  I want to have things making sense.  I want to be able to say I’ve made some progress.

None of these things are going to be easy and I know that.  But honestly, I can’t keep doing this.  I’m 26 25.2 years old.  I need to grow up and start acting like it, you know?  And it starts now-ish.

I need to remember what I’m striving for.  I need to remember that if I don’t lose some pounds in my hips, my pants don’t fit.  I need to realize that if my work performance sucks, people notice.  The things I need to change, I need to change for ME, not for anyone else.  The only person that is being set back by my inability to be a productive person is ME.

Which I forget sometimes.  But I can’t anymore.  I have to turn my focus on myself.  I have to do these things for me.

Now that I’ve posted this – everyone knows what I’m doing.  And I can be held accountable in the court of blogs when it doesn’t happen.

It has to happen though.  Doesn’t or can’t are not words I can use anymore.  I’ve got to stop treading and start swimming.

Reverb Day 23 – Hi, my name is…

Prompt: New name. Let’s meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why?

It’s hard to think of yourself with a new name.  Because I’m so very much what my name is, I think.  I mean, yes, every 5th girl born in the 1980s has my name, but still.  It’s me.  My name is who I am.

I think if I had to pick a new name, it would be Charlotte.  It’s very old fashioned, and I like that.  It sounds like it’s proper and well mannered.  And since I am neither of those things, people would be in for quite a surprise.  Charlotte sounds formal.  Charlotte sounds like someone you would want to confide in.   Charlotte is probably all the things that I find I cannot be.  She’s calm, well put together and charming.  She’s quiet and appropriate.  She doesn’t drink too much, she makes good life choices and you know, she’s from Connecticut.

I’m not Charlotte though.  I’m me.  I’m the anti-Charlotte.  And while it would be nice to think that one day, I might settle down and be a little less…wacky…I like the way I am.  I like making people laugh, I like sometimes (mostly) making a scene and I like being the loud and outspoken one.  I’m so not Charlotte.

Charlotte is also my grandmother’s name.  I think she embodies a Charlotte far more than I ever could, but it’s nice to dream.

Reverb Day 19 – Healing

Healing. What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011?

When I think about what I’m going to write, it makes me feel stupid.  But the fact of the matter is that it has changed me. 

As I’ve said about a million times before, I volunteer at an animal shelter.  I work as an adoption counselor, helping all the dogs go and find their forever homes.  Most of these dogs have come from really screwed up situations.  Most of them have been abandoned, a fair number of them have been abused and ALL of them were unloved. 

But these dogs, as screwed up as things were for them, learn to trust and love people again.  ANd I find that amazing.  I can be so hateful and carry resentment along with me for a long time.  Hell, I’m still annoyed at stuff that happened to me years ago.  I still carry around all the times I’ve been burned by people and then don’t get into those situations again for fear of what’s going to happen.  With a lot of love and attention, these silly 4-legged creatures begin to understand that not all people are bad.  Not everyone is a mean nasty person.  They trust again, they love again and become super adoptable dogs.

It’s kind of stunning to watch it happen, because it’s not really a sudden change, but you will realize it one day.  You’ll realize that the dog that used to run from you comes running to you because she recognizes the sound of your voice.  It’s crazy but I’ve seen it happen. 
If the dogs can do it, why can’t I?  I can learn that not everyone sucks.  I can be healed by the sheer goodness of people, can’t i?

I can be healed in 2011.  I need to let the right people in, the people that are going to reinforce the ideas that everyone has goodness.  Everyone can love truly.  I can be healed just by being around the right sorts of people.  I think I’ve found some of those people.  Let the healing begin

Who I Am when I’m not ridiculous

There’s a part of my life that I haven’t really blogged about ever.  There’s no real reason for that – but it’s just something that’s become so ingrained in Who I Am that I forget that it’s not how other people are. 
 
My brother Jamie has autism.  And while the statistics are now that 1 in 110 kids is diagnosed with autism, Jamie is 22.  He was diagnosed as being on the spectrum before anyone honestly knew what we were dealing with.  I’m not sure what life would be like for us now if any of the education surrounding autism was around when he was younger.  But he’s my brother.  I love him and he’s one of the best people that I know.
 
While life with Jamie is fabulous and wonderful, it isn’t all candy and unicorn farts.  He’s frustrating.  He has a hard time focusing, needs a lot of attention when he’s home and can get on your nerves.  And while I’d like to ride my high horse into I’m Better Than You Town, I can’t.  because sometimes, I get mad at him.  Sometimes I raise my voice and shout at him.  Sometimes we’re like a normal brother and sister.  Sometimes I can’t stand him being around.  When I get into a fight with someone and just want to be alone, he’s following me.  He’s trailing me, asking me what’s wrong, telling me not to be upset.
 
And you know what doesn’t help when you’re upset?  Someone who is telling you not to be upset.
 
So I can act all high and mighty about Jamie, but it’s not like that.  While I love him to death and honestly would do anything for him, sometimes I do wish that he was just…you know…normal. 
 
At the same time, I can’t imagine my life if Jamie wasn’t the way he is.  I can’t imagine having a Christmas where we didn’t talk about Santa because Santa still comes to our house.  I don’t know what it would be like to have a typical 22 year old brother – someone I could go out with, share drinks with, enjoy movies with.  That isn’t something I can wrap my brain around because it’s never been something I’ve considered. 
 
Now that I have a new job and I’ve been dating 21, there are so many people in my life that don’t know about Jamie.  And while he’s not a constant topic of discussion, I’ve had to talk about him.  I’ve been thinking of the ways to explain to someone that might not have any idea what Jamie is all about.  Over the years, it’s become easier because autism is so much more in the public eye than it was before.  But Jamie isn’t Rain Man.  Jamie isn’t profoundly autistic either.  So my explanation has to go further than “My brother has autism”.  I encourage people to ask questions because it’s very easy to want to know if Jamie has a magical counting power (he doesn’t), if he can speak (he’ll talk your ear off) and what he’s capable of (making me laugh by telling my mom that I’m being a dick). 

21 has been the most curious about Jamie and with a good reason.  21 has been carefully picking his words when he talks about Jamie in an attempt not to offend me.  The thing is, I’d rather him say what he thinks and be blantant about it than dance around the subject.  I know that he doesn’t know anything about autism.  I’m aware.  But he tries so hard not to step on my toes, not to make me feel like Jamie is someone to be ashamed of. 

For a long while I was ashamed of Jamie because I didn’t know any better.  I was 12 years old.  I was trying to fit in.  He didn’t help me fit into the mold of the community we lived in.  Jamie was not a part of the community.  So I hid him.  I didn’t invite my friends over to my house.  I never had sleepovers.  I didn’t say a lot about my family because I couldn’t find the words that I needed.  I thankfully found a friend or two that were understanding.  They were people that I could invite over that wouldn’t judge Jamie for the fact that sometimes, he doesn’t wear pants (sorry guys).  From there, I learned.  I found out what I needed to say and how to (for lack of a better phrase) prepare people for Jamie.  I learned that some people cannot be accepting.  I learned that some people are bound to be jerks.  And I learned that if someone doesn’t like Jamie or Jamie doesn’t like that someone?  They don’t need to be in my life. 
 
My mom sent me this email a while ago that was about siblings of people with autism.  It’s something that I’ve held on to because I didn’t know what I wanted to do with it.  Posting it here is as good as anything, I suppose.  The email was about the strengths that siblings of people with autism have.
 
Perception. Having an autistic sibling means growing up alongside someone who sees the world in a unique, individual way – a way that is often different from the mainstream population. It also means living day-to-day with someone who behaves somewhat-to-very differently than the general population. The sibling without autism learns very early on that the world we live in is not black and white; there is not necessarily a right and wrong way to do all things. With solid parental guidance, siblings come to learn that individuality is not scary or wrong, but valued and beneficial to society. The neuro-typical siblings go into adult life with open minds and the ability to see the world from many views. Not only does this shape an individual with compassion, empathy, and acceptance of differences, but it also inspires innovation and creativity. The siblings can become real thinkers who see beyond face value, as well as diplomats who can navigate and reconcile conflicting points of view.
 
Perspective. Growing up with an autistic sibling means watching your sibling face each day with more courage and strength than most of us can fathom. Whether facing ridicule and cruelty from others or simply trying to get by in a world that was not built to accommodate their needs and way of thinking, kids with autism experience constant challenges. It’s difficult to witness this on a daily basis and not grow up with great perspective about what actually constitutes a problem. Granted, a pitfall of some siblings is to decide that their own real problems or feelings do not warrant attention or concern. However, with maturity and proper guidance from caring adults, the siblings can grow into adults who can balance experiencing their feelings with not overreacting to trivialities or falling prey to self-pity. This perspective allows them to remain calm during difficult situations, and to be thoughtful rather than reactionary.
 
Leadership. Siblings of autistic children often have to mature very early – arguably, earlier than should be required. By necessity, siblings often must assist their parents in helping, providing care, and teaching. These households can be chaotic, and siblings must develop a real inner strength to deal with the chaos, emotions, and frequent uncertainty. In families, siblings often collaborate – working on projects, carrying out chores, or playing together. Siblings often see each other’s capabilities and way of thinking from a different perspective than their parents or teachers. Whether older or younger, the non-autistic siblings naturally gravitate to leadership roles in the sibling relationship. They learn to stand up for their sibling to others, and advocate for their sibling’s potential to be seen and met with proper challenges for growth and success. Whereas some of this presents difficulty for some, in the end, it shapes strong adults with tremendous potential for leadership. They can grow into leaders who are comfortable navigating uncertainty and still delivering results; they become comfortable leading and motivating others, and they learn to see and foster the potential in those they lead. They see differences in working styles and ways of thinking as welcome attributes rather than frightening, difficult to manage, or unacceptable. The siblings become strong, compassionate leaders who are natural innovators, protectors, and advocates.
 
Courage. By necessity, growing up with an autistic sibling teaches a child to have the courage to stand out. Venturing into society with someone who does not necessarily conform or can have unfiltered reactions means there will be moments when the entire family stands out, whether they like it or not. For children and teenagers this can sometimes cause embarrassment. However, it is an important part of their development that will yield rewards their entire lives. It helps the siblings learn to be themselves and express their ideas, and not be swayed by the crowd. It helps them see public perception for what it is, and to know when to take or leave an outside judgment or opinion. A lifetime of developing strength and compassion provides the courage and pride to face the world head-on.
 
Creativity. Many of the other listed benefits have underlying tones of creativity, or produce creativity as a byproduct of the other attributes achieved. Siblings often have a unique way of communicating – sometimes even developing a shorthand or symbiotic relationship. Learning to communicate effectively with an autistic sibling takes a great deal of creativity. Autism manifests differently in each person, and there is a broad spectrum. However, communication and social awareness are almost always affected in some way. Siblings grow up learning how to organically communicate, reach, and connect with their sibling. Because those with autism often have unique and varied ways of thinking and seeing the world, their neuro-typical siblings often benefit from a very creative point of view. Simply being so intimately engaged with a person lacking the tools to temper individuality through conformity stretches the mind and creativity of a sibling. Many people with autism also have some extraordinary abilities. Not all are creative, but some do have creative talent, be it visual arts, music, writing, or simply expressing a worldview that is unique and insightful. An added benefit to creativity is when a sibling grows up in a house filled with this art. Even a non-creative interest exposes the siblings to aspects of the world that they would not normally delve into, and can feed creativity. If the siblings happens to share a creative interest, both or all the siblings’ creativity and awareness grows together. Some siblings even apply their creativity to solving scientific and sociological puzzles, including the puzzle of autism.

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