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Dear Google Doodle

Saturday was International Women's Day, which Sheryl Sandberg on down acknowledged via Google Doodle, but being busy with work and family things, it took me a few days to write this. Bear with me here and please forgive lack of flow. I actually wrote a much longer post that included a bit about how we inhabit three bodies, but I removed it to spare you all the longest read in history. I'll post that later, maybe.
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Dear Google Doodle: To celebrate International Woman's Day, I have my period and am swollen up like a balloon. Seriously, the scale says I gained 4.5 lbs between this morning, when I didn't have my period and now, right here now at 8 pm, when I do. But don’t worry.  I’m not about to confuse biology with pathology, unlike my old OB/GYN, who bought into the idea that having periods themselves is a pathology and persuaded me to get a Mirena IUD because I didn’t want worse periods with the Paragard IUD, did I? When the Mirena could take them away entirely? Now I bleed every two weeks. Thanks, doc.

One woman I know got harassed online by a creep and another woman friend gets harassed in person on what seems like a weekly basis. A few months ago, I stopped to help a man in a wheelchair who dropped something, and when I gave it to him, he grabbed me and tongued my cheek while making, “mmmmmm” sounds until I was able to disengage myself and stalk away. We often get paid less than our male counterparts for equal to more work. I work far harder and longer hours than L. in an industry that pays on average a great deal more than his field, but I make a lower base salary and only a little more than he does after bonuses. I have reason to suspect that men at my current level at my office make about $10K more than I do. Only men in my office have been promoted to Director. Young women get rabid about their rights to represent themselves online “any way they want,” which is fine and well within one’s rights of self-expression and presentation, but apparently “any way I want” means conforming to standard 20th century male-informed constructs of “appropriate” female sexuality (i.e. pouting and taking selfies in the mirror while wearing little t-shirts and thongs), never once seeing that they're not representing anything but what males classically have held steady in their gazes, and some seek to victimize. How is it fully representative of your freedom as a woman to present yourself unironically as something for men to consume?


I remember in a class in cultural models and cognitive anthropology that I taught at Penn, I had my students construct models of human relationships to get at concepts of kinship, and at some point in the discussion, one young woman said, "I definitely want to get married. Who wouldn't want a man to take care of her?"

Wow, that's one expensive “Mrs.” degree you have there, sweetie… not to mention one hell of a misconception that being “taken care of” instead of entering an equal partnership gets you anything but in one mess of trouble later in life.

We have two female friends caught up in what really seems to be an abusive relationship with one man, but his drunken abusiveness is obscured and confounded by the lifestyle they choose to lead and the heteronormative 1950’s gender roles they choose to inhabit and defend vigorously. Why is it, friends, that when a young woman loudly and publicly defends her right to self-representation, it’s frequently over her right to be treated poorly if she wants, or her right to be reduced to a sexualized caricature, and rarely her right to earn the same wages that men in her position, in her company, earn? Why is it never to be promoted or to be given new intellectual and financial opportunities?  Countless women who came before – even their own mothers – fought and worked tirelessly for their daughters’ future right to choose their vocations, avocations, and ultimately, their own financial fate, apart from their husbands’. Who would have thought that *at home, scantily clad, posting pictures of themselves on the Internet, deriving self-satisfaction and personal validation from virtual wolf whistles*, would be one of the things they actively chose?


Except it’s easier and more immediately rewarding to choose to fit yourself to a stereotype than it is to actually try to swim upstream. There’s that, of course.  It’s been made much easier by the structure of the Internet to perform female subjugation as an apparent (but never, never actual) demonstration of freedom.

Oh, but I’m sorry. It’s International Woman’s Day, and here I am talking only about North America, where we at least have the ability to choose whether or not to represent ourselves as sex objects, as opposed to other countries where if you think you have a choice, you’re sadly mistaken. You may think you’re choosing to get firewood, but no, you’re actually choosing to be someone’s sex object and site of violent political demonstration. You may think you’re riding a bus with your male friend, but actually you’re just a sex toy to use mercilessly and then discard, torn, like a spent condom.

International Women’s Day indeed. Too little, too light, too shallow. We’ve made so many inroads and then allowed them to be backfilled because feminism as a movement was deeply flawed. Instead of taking the lead on challenging the constructs of race and class, we instead allowed feminism to implode, allowed it to become an outmoded, rather silly notion with which no one wants to identify. We don’t need to reclaim our rights to dress as we please and post photos online, or to be in an abusive relationship, or to get married and let our husbands support us. We need to reclaim feminism. And in so doing, we need to claim humanism – the idea that in essence we men and women are all the same, and that any differences we experience are inculcated by culture and social pre/proscription. We do not need to perform our sexuality online to challenge societal female norms. That fruit hangs far too low. We need to perform our humanity by simply striving to achieve all that is possible within our social reality, and we need to actively support any people, particularly those of marginalized genders, who struggle, and are blocked, from doing the same. But instead we all tread water, either using heteronormative constructs of femininity to keep us largely afloat, or allowing ourselves, like I do, to slip under water occasionally because we're trying to stay afloat while carrying "it all."

Thanks, Google Doodle, for reminding me that we still need our own day and that ultimately it means nothing. I needed that.

Q1: How many times do I have to nicely ask the children to play downstairs so I can work?
A1: 4,500,209,128.

Q2: How many times do I have to scream at the top of my lungs telling them that no, nothing they need from upstairs to play "cat and ninja warrior" is at all important enough for them to race like herds of elephants up the stairs and then start screaming all over the upstairs, and they are DONE and they will GO THE HELL DOWNSTAIRS NOW!!!!!!"
A2: Apparently, only once.

E 1, Kids 0.

Goddammit.
Today was full of simple pleasures thanks to my wonderful L.

It was a bit of a hectic morning. Children had to be moved along through their paces, sick teen had to be looked in on, and even though I'd taken the day off, I ended up working all morning putting out the endless tiny fires that keep popping up in relation to the largest study I'm directing. It's a behemoth among the other merely large studies I'm also directing, and there are some dozen of our staff engaged in all its moving parts. Every study material must be passed through two levels of legal review and one level of IRB review. There are four different committees on the pharma's part engaged in the project too, and two brand teams. Directing it and conducting the research is basically a full-time job, and I have four other of these studies to direct too. Plus I have to finish two financial aid forms for Adam (FAFSA and something for private universities). Plus I have to... and then I also have to... you know how it goes.

L is taking Jo and Hen to Pittsburgh this weekend to see his mom and if the roads are better by then, he'll leave with them on Friday, which for me is scheduled solid from 10-6 just with work for this one project. We won't be able to be together on Valentine's day, and he's seen how hard I've been working, so he asked me to take a day off on the 12th for a surprise! I did, and although as I mentioned that our day got encroached upon by work regardless, L told me I should wear a dress and heels, at 1:30 he drove me downtown to our special area of the city (where we spent a long, beautiful Christmas break once, where we spent time on one of his summer visits when he still lived in Rhode Island, and where ultimately we got formally engaged) and took me to the Cassatt Tea Room. Here are pictures someone else took, but I didn't take any pictures, so you have to have someone else's imagery:

http://www.kathyylchan.com/blog/2013/7/31/philadelphia-afternoon-tea-at-mary-cassatt-tea-room-of-the-rittenhouse-hotel

We sat in that very spot though of course the view out the floor-to-ceiling windows was decidedly less springlike, and we enjoyed ourselves thoroughly, all carb-avoidance be damned, just for one day. The tea was perfectly brewed, and the bread used for the tea sandwiches wasn't stale at all where the crusts were trimmed. We had the room mostly to ourselves, too, so it was extra-beautiful. The whole experience simply slowed down time for me, and we had beauty and serenity for a couple of hours. It was perfect.

After, he gathered our coats and then told me to put my hand in my left coat pocket. Inside, I discovered a little pouch containing gorgeous smokey quartz earrings I'd told him I was going to buy as a gift for myself after my workload lightened.

I really don't know how to express my gratitude towards and for my husband in words. I just don't. *Tearing up a little*

After, we went home and I got sucked back into work for just a bit. He went shopping, I tried to put out more fires, and then we went to the second of the trips L had arranged: Nerd Nite! We drove out to a post-industrial, newly gentrifying, hipster-soaked part of the city (Fishtown, for those of you who are interested), and listened to a few Valentine's Day-inspired talks by, first, the guy who wrote, The Geek's Guide to Dating, followed by a printer guy who works with a locally-famous astronomer and artists to combine tech and art, and last by a woman of uncertain association with Laurel Hill Cemetery, who spoke very engagingly about Victorian death ritual and custom. She redeemed the evening's lecture series -- the other two guys weren't terribly skilled speakers, shall we say. We had really good vegetarian burgers/sausage, beer and free coffee and enjoyed ourselves immensely. We left just as the snow started, and we walked back to the car, the snowflakes falling swift and sharp, pricking our faces for a moment, then melting.

My L creates islands in time. I don't know what I'd do without him.

<3.

Letter memes and Tales of Parsippany

Let's see here... sabotabby gave me C.

Something I hate: Cancer. Fuck cancer and everything to do with it.

Sigh. Hard to continue after that.

Something I love: The cello, and pretty much anything played on it. My current favorite: Zoe Keating http://www.zoekeating.com/

Somewhere I have been: Canada! We had a beautiful honeymoon in Montreal and Quebec City, and we can't wait to go back.

Somewhere I would like to go: China. It's not at the top of my travel bucket list, but it's on there.

Someone I know: chanaleh!

Best film: Oh lordy. Do I say Casablanca,Citizen Kane or do I admit to secretly loving Casino Royale? Decisions, decisions...

If you want a letter, just say so!
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In other news, I did a great job of presenting at a meeting in Parsippany, NJ. I won't bore everyone with details, but everyone was highly complimentary and very excited about sociolinguistics thereafter, and the room was absolutely packed. People kept coming up to meet me afterwards like I was a celebrity or something. I bombed at this same meeting four years ago when I was new to my job, so even though on the grand scale of things having presented so well isn't that big a deal, it still feels really good.

Feb. 4th, 2014

30 minutes snatched away from work for myself, prior to going downstairs to ride the bike and trick my body into parting with a few fat cells... what, oh what to write about?

- I just returned from temperate California in time, basically, to turn back around and travel again tomorrow! This time, I'm off to beautiful Parsippany, NJ. I know, it's a traveler's dream come true. I will stay in the gorgeous Parsippany Hilton, surrounded by marketers and market researchers promoting themselves. What's not to love? And I myself will give a fantastic talk about how one can use sociolinguistics to answer all manner of research questions. Whee!  At least my colleague, C, will be there, and we'll have a little fun together. Less fun than we would have had if she were not in her first trimester of her second pregnancy and throwing up pretty much constantly, but still, we'll enjoy each other's company.

- California was very enjoyable, by contrast. My friend and colleague P. and I presented our research at Amgen, and it went extremely well. I really do get very excited about it when I can use my findings to help marketers think creatively about patient education and, especially in the oncology realm, to get them to promote survivorship programs, and free-up funds to make copay assistance available to more people. I WILL rework the system, dammit!

Warning: discussion of cancer patients' needs and getting them some helpCollapse )
The brand team was absolutely delighted with my bid to rework the system in this case. One man in particular paid extremely close attention and was highly interactive. At the end of my presentation, he invited me back in March to speak to a much larger group including advocacy professionals. As she walked us out, the client who contracted with us told us that that was her boss and that she'd never seen him pay attention to any other marketing research presentation before. He's apparently a "fiddle with his smartphone and leave early" person. So it's lousy that he's a jerk, but the implicit compliment is pretty nice to have received.

- Otherwise, it was actually quite a hard trip. The flight to Phoenix on Thursday was delayed by 45 minutes because a broken seat had to be documented (and the man who had purchased said seat on the plane was bumped to another flight without the rest of his family, which was pretty lousy for them all, I'd imagine). The turbulence on the trip was constant and regardless of altitude, it couldn't be avoided, which meant that there was no drink and food service on the flight for five hours.

Time to rush off the plane...Collapse )
Once we finally rolled in, P. and I decided to collapse, so I got room service (and the very strange man who brought me my food rubbed my arm/sleeve -- nubbly fabric! -- and I ushered him out because eww, that was slightly awful), and then more oddities occurred the next day, but that is a tale for a different time. I've taken more than 30 minutes and I need to spend some time with L and pack for tomorrow's trip!

Ugh, no dance...

Blah. Sick instead. But I will dance all over the living room again one day, dammit! I couldn't swing any alone-time yesterday, as I had a lot of work during the day, and I had the kids all evening while L was at his jewelry making class (I'm excited about this, as he has artistic talent he's never really explored before, and it's a really nice thing to see him having fun with it), and then as soon as he got home with groceries, I had to make a dish for our minyan potluck lunch. I made this:

http://simpleprovisions.com.au/2012/07/09/chickpea-feta-and-parsley-salad/

and it turned out marvelously. Hopefully I didn't accidentally contaminate it with my germs and poison our minyan with this cold. That would be... bad.

Shit. I just realized I was supposed to buy a dessert for a second potluck tomorrow night. I just totally blanked because I felt so shitty as I left the office. And now it's Shabbat and I really shouldn't buy a dessert, but I can't bake anything either... this is a problem. See, this is for a reunion of Adam's b'nai mitzvah class, and it's being convened by one of THOSE friends. You know? The friend who was the Perfect Parent, and who was always Involved in every school event, and who only ever got in touch because she wanted one of the following:

1) a donation to her favorite charity
2) you to work for her latest political enthusiasm
3) your kid to play with her kid, who has no friends
4) you to send your kid to her parents' summer camp (like, they literally owned the camp)
5) you get the picture.

That friend. I have always referred to her as my "very expensive friend." She is a schnorrer for Causes So Good You Cannot Say No, and Then You Regret It Later When She Ignores You Cold In Other Social Settings (TM). So now her synagogue, which used to be my synagogue, fired our old rabbi (who married L and me, and whom we absolutely adore) for, basically, not being peppy enough, and hired a new, peppier "young but appeals to the aged hippy crowd" rabbi with a guitar and a tambourine. Very Expensive Friend (let's call her "VEF") is hosting this reunion of the kids in Adam's class before they all go off to college and only connect, like, daily through snapchat and their respective tumblrs and never see each other again in the flesh. Which is a lovely thought, don't get me wrong. And I agreed to go because Adam wants to see a few of his buddies (girls, most likely, knowing my son, lol) and I would like to introduce L to a few of the other parents I connected with and then lost touch with over the years. Just, sigh. I know very well I'm not exactly on VEF's A-list of friends. I don't know that I even make B-list. And she makes me feel guilty for not being as involved in Adam's elementary, middle and high schools as I would have liked to be had I not had to work my ass off to keep the power on and food on the table and such.

But also, here's the real reason? She invited the new peppy rabbi with a guitar. Which means that this isn't just a pleasant reunion of old friends. This is an Ask, my friends. Maybe I'm jaded, but there is only one reason VEF ever invites anyone (especially L and me) anywhere, and that is to donate money. This is a move to get several families to rejoin our old shul. So sigh. But Adam wants to go, VEF was kind enough to invite Joanna and Henry, and L thought it would be nice to have something social to do on Shabbat. And they live a quick walk from our house. So ugh. We should go. But I don't want to sit through a three hour long guilt trip about why I should rejoin Mishkan when we're really happy at our minyan at GJC...

My wonderful L, who is sitting across from me in our living room, has just pointed out that I am sick, and we actually do not have to go, and laughed maniacally with me. I knew I married that man for a reason. Not only does he find me excuses to avoid thinly veiled sales pitches, but no one does a better maniacal laugh. No one. Well, except maybe flw, but those guys are practically brothers, so.

Of course, if I'm this sick tomorrow, I'm not going to the minyan potluck either, which is a sad day.

In other news:

Jo's OCD is at bay and she's snuggly and huggy and doing much better that way, and is only asking for the password occasionally, but now her eczema is totally out of control. I'm convinced her anxiety is playing "whack-a-mole" with us. It really feels like it's some kind of entity that comes out through her skin, and if we don't let it do that, it just pops out in OCD thoughts/fears. BTW, last year when it was still available as an online serial comic, I ran across and read Adam Bourret's, "I'm Crazy," about OCD. It really helped me understand what OCD was -- little did I know at the time that we'd be dealing with it head on. For those of you who are curious, here's an excerpt:

http://books.torontoist.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/04/crazy_2.jpg

It's now a graphic novel. I would buy it to support the artist, but it has some images and storyline that would scare Jo, I think, and she has amazing radar for what we don't want her to see and would find it immediately. Anyway, very helpful.

Other news continued: I had a talk with Adam's father about paying for college and inferred from it that a) he does not intend to get a job to at least make ends meet (he is a lawyer, after all! A lawyer cannot be expected to take a job that is not in the law! Even after 2.5 years of unemployment and not exactly looking for work very hard! Unless it is in your ex-wife's field! Because anything SHE can do is obviously something YOU can do without training and BETTER! No, I'm not bitter? Why do you ask if I'm bitter?) and b) he does not intend to contribute to Adam's college because he has shot through over $100K in "savings" (old friends, you remember whom he got that money from) in 2.5 years, despite being a trust-fund baby and getting quite a bit of money from his mother every year. And despite having signed a divorce agreement stating that he agrees to pay half of all college costs not covered by his mother. Wot the hell. E will step in and fill the gap. She always does!

L is FURIOUS. Like, threatening lawsuit furious. But luckily for Adam, when signing up for the PSAT, the SAT, and AP tests, he arbitrarily chose his father's address as his permanent address. That means because Rich and I share custody equally, that Rich can fill out the FAFSA and Adam at least can benefit from his father's continued unemployment somehow. This is at least one good thing. Adam has been very upset with his dad for not bothering to look for work for 2 years, and only looking half-heartedly now. He's a really responsible kid and he's having a hard time wrapping his head around his father's inherent irresponsibility.

Henry continues to be Henry. He's been very into Legos lately, which warms the cockles of L's heart, and he seems to be more active lately, instead of entirely addicted to Minecraft, which is great. If I never see another Minecraft farm animal again, it will be too soon. He's also reading VOLUNTARILY (thank you, Diary of a Wimpy Kid author! KEEP WRITING!) and he has learned to wipe his own butt, meaning fewer yelps of parental distress and discarded pairs of Angry Bird underwear. Hey, you have to embrace the small victories.

Jan. 21st, 2014

A while ago I realized that unless I spend a little time each week with my therapist, I'm not going to be able to maintain my own sanity in the face of all the stresses I've been under: over-work, worry about finances vis-a-vis Adam's college costs, Jo's OCD (which is much better this week, thank God!), and some things that had been challenging to L's and my relationship. It's all too much at once. So finally, after a few scheduling misses, I went back to see D. after a year and a half.

She's an excellent therapist, though she mostly just listens and lets me make my own connections and discoveries. For the first fifteen or twenty minutes, I just filled her in on how everyone was doing, and we slid into talking about Jo and what CBT exercises she and I can do together. She suggested that since Jo is so active, we act out at her strange thoughts together -- punching them at the end -- and since she's artistic, we draw her fears and then crumple the pictures up and throw them away, or we sculpt them and then mold them into happier figures. D. is great.

Then she sat bolt upright, which is D.-speak for, "warning, changing topic," and said, "All right. What are you going to do to take care of yourself during this time?" This, honestly, is what I was there for, but it was still a bit of a shock to have to think about myself instead of trying to puzzle out how to manage the latest crisis. What AM I going to do to take care of myself, anyway?  Hm.

It took her the remainder of our session to pull it out of me, but we landed on a plan. One hour of every day will be all mine, apart from everyone else, inviolate. I am to leave the house (weather permitting) when I need to, and while I'm still awake enough to be productive for myself, instead of spending all my productivity on work and at home with the kids. We decided -- I decided -- that I'll spend 30 minutes of that hour exercising, and then I'll go to Starbucks or some other coffee shop to nurse a cup of tea and write.

So welcome to my first writing half-hour. I started a poem, but I haven't written one in almost three years. The opening lines were too flawed to keep, so I landed here, but at least it's a start. I have to remember that I'm not writing to produce art right now. I'm writing to reacquaint myself with the act of writing seriously -- with contemplation and the art of finding something to describe in stillness. I should also reacquaint myself with the art of not starting out paragraphs with the word, "so." Just sayin'.

Before I sat down to write, by the way, I danced. Jo and Henry are with bio-mom, Adam is with bio-dad, L was working out downstairs, and there's about a foot of snow outside, so dammit, I danced all the hell over the living room to some sultry jazz. Oh yes. I think I can do this. Well, I can dance, anyway. And if you like, please give me a writing prompt! Maybe I can get this writing thing off the ground too.

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Jan. 14th, 2014

Today I presented reports on two separate studies in a four-hour period in front of no fewer than 20 people per group, on less than 5 hours sleep. And I rocked both presentations. Oh yeah.

Apparently, and without prior knowledge, I also made a new type of martini. I call it a "stealth martini" because apparently it doesn't affect one at all until roughly an hour after consumption, at which time it pounces and numbs the entirety of the upper portion of your body and your left arm. I'm not entirely sure how I made it with these properties but I'm not complaining. *Falls over*

We are sans all three children tonight. Parents of pre-teens and teens will know that this is not a bad thing. We really needed this tonight, L, me and the stealth martini.

Sigh. I suck.

Last night L. and I went out with new friends we want to get to know better. It was a nice night out after spending the whole day managing the kids.

We discovered that Jo has been getting only a very scant 2-3 or 2-4 hours of sleep a night. Her anxiety is back to a fevered pitch and she's waking anywhere between 1 am and 4 am after only falling asleep at 11 pm (bedtime is at 9, but she requires a 1 hour bedtime ritual and then requires one of us to sit there in the dim light with her until she drifts off, which can take anywhere from 5 to 60 minutes. She sometimes sleeps until 6-8 am, but this is rare anymore.  We also discovered that during this time, she has been going downstairs to get on the computer and getting on Youtube, where she trundles around aimlessly, of course finding videos that scare the living shit out of her, because she has always had a preference for the morbid. So now she's terrified of "Jeff the Killer," adding this meme to her pantheon of fears to build into her anxiety and OCD.

Honestly, I just feel completely cut off at the knees. We're installing Net Nanny or something similar, but the anxiety is like "whack-a-mole" and as I have learned through bitter experience, it will resurface somewhere else. I know it's certainly treatable and we are working on getting the right treatment plan into place (in fact I just left a message for one of the psychiatrists recommended to us and will call another shortly), but right now things feel very out of control.

Add to this that thanks to inclement weather, we'd been trapped in the house with the kids for four out of the past six days. First we got snowed in on Thursday; then Friday was too cold to take them outside given Jo's eczema; then Saturday we did manage to get to synagogue, but it was Shabbat and we really couldn't do anything with them outside the house and they refused to go play in the snow. Then Sunday was an ice-storm, followed by rain and then followed by a playdate with Jo's friend who also has some significant special needs. We knew we were getting ourselves into trouble but there was just nothing else to do with the kids.

Jo's friend came over and just GAH. Lawrence had had to work earlier that day, so I'd tried to play with the kids then, but this devolved into a long and complex crying jag on Jo's part over a) my having taken away the random Youtube searching that is exacerbating her anxiety and obsessive, intrusive thoughts, b) our refusal to buy her a cat now that she is no longer very interested in the dog ("I just feel that if I have a cat, then I will have the two best kinds of pets and then I won't feel the need to ask for other pets..."), and c) my telling her that when she is all grown up and has her own apartment and her own job and can take care of an animal by herself, then she can get herself all the cats she wants, but nothing else that urinates and defecates is coming inside this house except to visit, period. Her response, between sobs: "It's when you say "never" that I get upset, Ellyn! I feel like growing up is such a long way away and I'll never get a cat when it's the most important to me!" *Huge tears welling up and spilling over her eyes and down her cheeks like waterworks* So there was then much talk about her needing to demonstrate over the course of years that she can maintain attention, responsibility, etc. to care for the cat herself, because Daddy and I have enough to do with our jobs and Muppet and her, Henry and Adam. I got exactly nowhere except that now she thinks that she'll have a cat in a few months if she just occasionally feeds the dog and lets her out.

*headdesk*

So there was this all morning instead of the fun craft-time I had arranged to keep them both the hell off the internet all day.

Then Jo's friend came, so I set them both up with craft-time at the kitchen table while Jo nattered on about having OCD and so they couldn't go online, and then Nora (the friend) got panicked and wanted to use the internet, so I had two of them plus Henry trying to negotiate about computer time. I calmly did the dishes and did not give in, and then they all settled down but started screech-singing. I already had a headache from dealing with, "I feel like I never have anything good happen in my life, I want a cat so much! I would cry from happiness if I had a cat!" all morning and now this. I told them to please stop, I couldn't take the shrieking, and while Nora politely stopped and Henry wandered into the next room, Joanna came over to me at the sink, and eyes aglow with happiness and mischief (honestly, she was just being mischievous, not defiant, exactly), started shriek-singing even louder, right in my face. This prompted Nora to start up again too, so I bellowed for them to be quiet. They did immediately quiet down, but this episode scared Joanna, and for the remainder of the day she kept asking for the passphrase that would tell her I wasn't an alien.

Things went their normal way after that, with all three kids in the basement shrieking song lyrics at the top of their lungs

Now during all this, Lawrence was upstairs. I had told him to go rest a bit because he worked all morning. However, I thought he also had more work to do, so when he didn't come downstairs for nearly 2 hours, I didn't want to disturb him. So for about two hours, I managed the kids' constant attempts at negotiating computer time ("well, if I can do X and Z, then maybe I could do X of Y and Z of Y, right?") and requests for food (Nora's mother placed her on a diet and she constantly tries to wangle food out of everyone else). He finally came down and took over, but copped to having intended to spend 10 minutes on SimCity but accidentally spending 1.5 hours. I get it, this has happened to me, and frankly, if I could have hidden from the kids, oh man, would I have hidden.

Finally, around 5:00, Nora went home, and Joanna was calmed down enough from her day that she wanted to study Hebrew with Lawrence (she's embarrassed that Henry, who is three and a half years her junior, knows way more Hebrew than she does). So this was nice, but my nerves were just shot and I could not rejoice. There was no joy in Mudville.

Lawrence took the kids to Shasta's after that and I tried to calm down and couldn't. I knew this was not a good scenario for the remainder of the evening, but I was well and truly blasted both by Jo's anxiety and all the shrieking peppered with Very Lawyer-ly Negotiating" for hours and hours.

So here is where I was a shithead. We went out to dinner with our new friends and at some point mid-dinner (after three margaritas had finally kicked in -- I have no idea what they put in those things, but it isn't alcohol, that's for sure) Lawrence mentioned that he spends an inordinate amount of time on SimCity, and I quipped that yes, he's on SimCity while I'm watching the kids.

Our friends' faces registered momentary horror. UGGGGGHHHHHHH.

It was not good, my friends. I am a bad wife. I do suck. I really do. My poor L. I hate that I embarrassed him and I'm worried these people think I'm a terrible, terrible person.

Ugh, ugh, ugh. I stink.

A process in the weather of the heart

Awake again, too agitated to sleep, I suppose. I've been utterly slammed with my own work, and today found out that a contractor (we hire contract linguists, amazingly enough) spent nearly all her time going to parties, visiting friends and family, and training for a half-marathon instead of working on the project I hired her to work on. Plus she misinterpreted very, very basic directions and the analysis plan, and turned her head-scratchingly odd answers to the client's rather straightforward questions extremely late. This means that over the next two days I get to read 65 doctor-patient conversations, twist her existing slides into something meaningful, and create a host of new slides that actually answer the client's questions.

I'm so burned out and, honestly, mildly depressed. I've been working 60-70 hours a week for a month and for much of the last 3 months as well. I'm trying so hard to spend time with L and feel connected, but it's very difficult to feel connected to anything or anyone right now. I feel incredibly guilty for having so much work and neglecting him. Add to that ambient worry about Jo and how we're going to manage her medication around Shasta's refusal to give Jo any of her current meds, and Shasta's tendency to lose Jo's meds. And then on top of that, a sudden resurgence of my insomnia. It's not good.

At least I've not been entirely consumed by work. L and I have had some wonderful time together, and we've spent a lot of time talking, which makes things feel better. Yesterday was mild enough that we took the dog on a nice, long walk through the neighborhood, along a walking trail and back. We got our Chinese food for Jewish Christmas, and today we visited some historic homes in Fairmount Park, which we both enjoyed very much. Last night, we went bowling for an hour, and had some fun (despite my being a dreadful bowler -- L tried patiently to help me with my game, but my ball was just too heavy for me, and I proved to be hopeless).

But the best times have been those we've spent talking. I love hearing about what he's thinking, what's happening for him at work, and trying to think conundrums through with him. He loves his consulting work so much, and sharing it with him today over lunch made me very happy.

He also discussed and made some suggestions about my own work, which was unexpected (it's usually so specialized it's hard for anyone to help with it) and extremely helpful.

So as rotten as the work has been, there's been L, and that, at least, makes everything a good deal better.