Category Archives: personal

14 Years of Talking to Myself on the Internet

Song Lyric of the Day:

Well if you don’t like girls that are stronger than you / And if you don’t like girls that are faster than you / And if you don’t like girls that are smarter than you / Well then you might not like me / You might not like me

Brynn Elliott / “Might Not Like Me

Today marks 14 years of blogging for me. I started out with a post about how miserable I was in my professional life. Last year I wrote about how it turns out things were the way they were meant to be. I’m happy to say I’m still in a good place, particularly now that we are single homeowners once again.

So what have I learned in 14 years of blogging? As I wrote recently, I know I’d be doing a lot better with this blog and have an audience of more than six (hi, guys!) if I had more time to write and post with regularity. Alas, I have a full-time day job and a full-time 24/7 job as a mom. There’s a reason my blog had the most readers I’ve ever had when I was unemployed and could rant write whenever I felt like it. Which, it turns out, was often. Turns out *that’s* when I should have monetized, but at the time I didn’t know you could do such a thing. Oh, well. Good thing I have that day job to pay the bills, right?

I started blogging to stretch my writing muscles and to keep our (then far-away) family up to date on our lives. This blog is basically a de facto journal for me, with certain events, travels, and random adventures written down for posterity. I do want to get back into writing an actual journal, though, where I can write down the really personal stuff I would never broadcast on the internet. To that end, I need to work on my handwriting. After 12 1/2 years of a computer job, my once lovely, legible cursive writing is now a scrawled mess.

I’ll keep writing here for the foreseeable future since writing is still very much a release for me and I love the immediacy of being able to write a post and the ease with which that helps me preserve a memory. Here’s to future blogging and whatever that might bring.


Filed under blogging, personal

A Burden Lifted

Song Lyric of the Day:

Oh, and once it held laughter / Once it held dreams … If there’s love in a house, it’s a palace for sure / But without love it ain’t nothin’ but a house

Tom Waits / “House Where Nobody Lives

If you’ve read here at all the last few years or you know me personally, then you know we moved out of our A-frame when I was pregnant with Coraline — about eight years and five months ago, to be precise. You also know we were not able to find buyers for it, so we ended up renting it out. Over and over and over. In between tenants we would try to sell the house. Of the five real estate agents we had in six years, only one got us to a contract, which the buyer then backed out of at the last minute. Turns out the sixth time — specifically the sixth real estate agent* in 8+ years — was the charm as WE FINALLY SOLD THE A-FRAME.

To say Rich and I were on pins and needles as we approached the late-August closing is an understatement. We didn’t tell anyone — at least I didn’t — because we were afraid to jinx things when it was looking so promising (if you know me, you also know I can be irrationally superstitious). A young couple with two little girls who call the A-frame “the treehouse” are now the new owners, and we couldn’t be happier. The house was bought by people who truly love it. There won’t be any more renters causing destruction and chaos and stress in our lives. (Not all our renters were bad — the first were great, in fact — but it turns out there are things professional background checks just cannot tell you.) There’s now a new family to love the house and make it their own, which made finally selling the house a genuinely happy occasion for all of us.

Now that the A-frame is sold, we are looking forward to investing in the house we live in, now our ONLY house, which is more of an adjustment than I’d expected. Turns out it’s a hard habit to break, saying the street name of your house so you know which one you’re talking about. Now when we start a list of house projects that need to be taken care of, it can simply be titled House Projects. It’s a good feeling.

Rich and I are looking forward to taking care of things that our house needs taken care of — like new eaves and gutters, a drainage issue in the backyard, and chimney repairs, to name a few — that we had to put off while all our attention (and money) was focused on the A-frame. I can’t quite put into words what it means to finally be able to start truly making our house a home, but I look forward to trying.

A-Frame Exterior

Farewell to a beloved home

*Again, a MILLION thanks to Brandon Hutchison of Hutch & Howard with Keller-Williams here in Knoxville. Brandon and his partner Rob Howard and their right-hand woman Carrie Mays pulled off what, after so many years, truly felt impossible.

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Filed under home, home improvement, home selling, homebuying, house, personal, real estate

I Screen, You Screen, We All Screen for Screen-Free Time

Screen-Free Song Lyric of the Day:

Hey / Put the cellphone down for a while / In the night there is something wild / Can you hear it breathing? / And hey / Put the laptop down for a while

Arcade Fire / “Deep Blue

A few months ago I instituted screen-free evenings at home. My goal was to spend focused quality time with my family without the distraction of screens. Also, having struggled with popcorn brain for some time now and working all day on a computer, detoxing from screens is something I feel I occasionally need to do.

I let Rich and Coraline know a few days in advance that I’d like for us to designate a particular evening as screen-free so they both have time to think about or plan what we can do on those nights. We usually end up playing board games (Cora’s getting quite good at Clue Junior) or enjoying family coloring time, or a mix of both. And now that Coraline is a big reader, we also enjoy time where we’re all just reading our respective books; this either requires Sebastian be in a good mood and playing with some toys or him going to bed early if he is, shall we say, not in an agreeable mood.

On screen-free nights, we also try to be as device-free as possible. Which means no music streaming from Alexa or even the CD player. Quiet time means quiet time. As Rich and I both always have our phones on us (bad, I know), we silence them and leave them in a room we are not going to be hanging out in. The thing I miss most about not having my phone on screen-free evenings is not being able to immediately Google things that come up in our discussions. It’s not like we have a set of encyclopedias sitting around, waiting to be cracked open. Also, it turns out I rely on Google A LOT.

Our pets also benefit from screen-free evenings. Troubadour and Capone are always game for a neighborhood walk, while Buster has his choice of laps if we’re all sitting around reading. It’s a win-win for all of us.

When we first started having screen-free nights, I think we were all a bit hesitant to dive in. As I mentioned, Rich and I are pretty attached to our phones (so bad). And Cora and I like to watch a bit of Psych together (we’re almost done with season five), so that’s out on screen-free nights. Sebastian is not screen-addicted yet, but he’s definitely very screen-interested. It’s an active battle with him to keep him away from screens as we’re still trying to limit his exposure. We’re not doing as good a job as we did with Cora at the same age, but we do try. Although sometimes to buy myself a few minutes of relative peace, I’ll pull up the PBS Kids app on the Roku and put on Sesame Street. Sebastian LOVES it (“Street!”) and I feel a bit less guilty for letting him watch a few minutes of TV because it’s educational. Educational TV makes it OK, right?

I’d like to make screen-free time at least a weekly thing for us. Now that school has started again, that’ll help us get into a routine again, so we can designate a certain day as screen free. It’s validating to know Coraline likes it — she actually asks if we can have a screen-free evening or if we can designate a few hours on the weekend. So at least I’m doing one thing right. Right?

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Filed under family time, personal


Song Lyric of the Day:

This is the time to give you a reason / This is the time to bare our soul / This is the time to tell you the real truth

Unloved / “This Is the Time

If you read what I posted yesterday, then you can safely and correctly assume I’ve been very stressed of late. Things are a bit calmer now as I am down to only talk therapy, having wrapped up physical therapy a few weeks ago. But for a while there it was, ironically, a lot of driving to deal with the physical and emotional/anxiety issues I developed after our car accident. I’d have to leave work at least a half hour ahead of my physical therapy appointments to get there on time. I’d have to leave work at least 15-20 minutes ahead of my talk therapy appointments to get there on time. Then I’d have to drive back to work or home to get back to work; having a “portable” job I could remote in to was a sanity-saver more times than I could count. I’d also work at night sometimes after the kids were in bed to make up for time I missed during the day. All these appointments and extra drive time resulted in a lot of short lunches at my desk. Which, if you know me at all, was hitting me where it hurt as lunchtime is a sacred time for me. I either go to lunch with a few of my close work friends or I take a book with me for a solo lunch. Not being able to do that and have that time to socialize and/or decompress just ended up further contributing to my overall anxiety.

So how did I manage to not go batpoop* insane? Mostly by cleaning and organizing. Cleaning and organizing are my go-tos when I’m stressed out; I imagine my therapist would say it’s because that way I’m restoring order and controlling what I can. (See? Therapy works!) I went on a lot of benders around the house, whipping this or that into shape and tackling various projects. I printed and framed more photos for our hall gallery wall. I organized cabinets. I whipped my home office desk into shape. I tackled the kids’ closet; it’s still not done, but it’s better. I would do such deep cleans in the kitchen it’s a wonder the counters aren’t translucent now. The areas where I was happiest with my results were either the kitchen or the living room, my family’s main hangouts, because Sebastian is a tiny, fast wrecking ball who leaves his toys EVERYWHERE.

Living Room Toy Area

The tidied living room lasts approximately 3 minutes once Sebastian hits it.

Days I ate lunch at my desk, I made sure to read even just a few pages of my book. I would try to take short walks with my work wife. At home at night, I would stretch out on the couch after tucking the kids in bed, let Buster settle in my lap, and binge-watch shows. I highly recommend Dark and The Chalet on Netflix; they’re both pretty dark, violent shows, but if you’re looking for happy, Hallmark-y show recommendations, well, you’re barking up the wrong tree. (I also just started The Frozen Dead, another dark French show.)

I’ve also tried to get back into writing and blogging. There’s something really cathartic about just letting it all out, whether here on the interwebs or just something I wrote for myself on my laptop. (I miss having nice handwriting. Working on a computer has ruined it.) I’m also trying to post more photos on Instagram since it lets me indulge my love of photography on the go. I’m hoping to dust off my DSLR soon and take Coraline on a mommy-daughter photo walk; she’s developing a love of photography and I want to encourage and grow that.

Now that things are finally slowing down a little, I’m just trying to take things one day at a time. Even a few minutes of decompressing is good for my soul and even better for my overall mental health. Getting back to the things I love most, like writing and photography, can only help with that.

*I’m trying to curse less because I have a 20-month-old parrot and an impressionable almost-8-year-old who reads well.

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Filed under mental health, personal

Getting Therapized



Song Lyric of the Day:

Oh, hard to hold this fire inside me / All I know, sometimes it’s frightening / Hard to hold this fire inside me / Oh, oh oh, it’s not really like me to lash out / I gotta let it out / I wanna lash out

Alice Merton / “Lash Out

I mentioned recently that life had gotten a little overwhelming of late. A lot of that has had to do with countless therapy appointments, a result of the car accident we were in at the end of March. Both Rich and I have been in physical therapy because of neck and back pain. I recently wrapped up six weeks’ worth of twice-weekly physical therapy sessions, and Rich just wrapped up his therapy. I now miss my wonderful therapist because I totally imprinted on her. I’m hopeful that continuing to do the home exercises she gave me will help keep my neck and back feeling good. There were days where it was hard to simply hold up my head because my neck was so sore, so I’m grateful therapy helped with that.

As I was behind the wheel during the accident, I now have severe driving anxiety. I went back to my regular therapist, a psychologist, to try to help with that. She’s had me do EMDR therapy to really focus on the accident. That means I’ve had to relive the accident several times, multiple times each therapy session. I didn’t realize until my doctor pointed it out, but the only time I would cry when recounting the accident to her is when I would describe hearing Coraline and Sebastian screaming and not knowing if they were OK. EMDR has been as fun and emotionally draining as you imagine it would be.

This anxiety has pretty much ruined driving for me. Driving, once such a simple pleasure in my life, is now something that scares me, especially if the weather is bad as we were rear-ended on a rainy day. If the weather is bad or just looking like it might turn, I’ll do my best to avoid going anywhere. I have to fight to not look in the rearview mirror once I’ve come to a stop, because I tense up watching the car behind me approach. It might look like it’s going too fast to stop in time, or — lord help me — if it’s rainy out, I’m terrified they’ll lose traction and slam into me like the driver in our wreck did. As anyone knows, tensing up is the worst thing you can do if you might get hit, so I have to continually remind myself to NOT LOOK IN THE MIRROR.

I do breathing exercises when I start my van first thing in the morning, and I usually end up doing them at stoplights and stop signs to calm myself down if something scared me into thinking I was going to get hit again. Coraline knows I’m seeing a therapist for this, and, luckily, she doesn’t hear my internal monologue when I’m freaking out as outwardly I manage to keep it together. I’m grateful that not only were both my kids physically unharmed in the wreck, but they both avoided developing any anxiety like I now have about being in the van.

We recently drove to Columbus, Ohio, to visit close friends, and at one point during the 6-hour drive there, I started to feel as close to a panic attack as I’ve ever been. I was in the front passenger seat and had to fight to not ask Rich to pull over, because I just didn’t want to be driving anywhere anymore. The best comparison I have is that it felt like when you get on a scary thrill ride and immediately want to get off, but you can’t. You have no choice but to see it through. All the other cars on the highway felt like threats to me — they were driving too fast or too close or had distracted drivers or were right on our tail. They felt like threats to me, anyway. I managed to talk myself down by reminding myself that Rich is a careful driver and would never intentionally put me or (especially) the kids in any danger. Clearly, I still have a ways to go with therapy for my driving anxiety.

As if the anxiety alone isn’t enough to deal with, my van is still not completely fixed. The body shop (DO NOT use Abra) we unfortunately chose did a crappy job of “fixing” things. As in, it turns out they left out the entire radio harness that should be in the liftgate that communicates with the 20+ computers my van has. We ended up having the Chrysler dealership fix that as I don’t want Abra touching my van ever again, lifetime work warranty be damned. So what’s the problem with my van now? The blind spot detector works maybe 5 minutes a day whenever I’m driving. Which means the entire rest of the time I’m driving it’s constantly dinging — it dings to let me know BLIND SPOT DETECTION UNAVAILABLE and to SERVICE BLIND SPOT SYSTEM. All those dings are fantastic for my anxiety, especially when they happen at the same moment I make a turn or change lanes and it scares the hell out of me. The dealership ran a computer diagnostic on the blind spot system which came back all clear, so after some Googling, I think the problem is in the bumper/wire connections somewhere. Given that the body shop screwed up the liftgate repair, it wouldn’t surprise me in the least if they messed up repairing bumper connections, too.  I have an appointment on the books to take my van back to the dealership so they can try to figure this issue out, and I’ll have to get another rental van which — you guessed it — increases my anxiety as I am then in an unfamiliar-to-me vehicle.

Almost every day after March 24 has been like this for me. It’s been a vicious cycle, one which I hope, no, NEED therapy to help me out of.

Two words.


*You have no idea how much Googling it took to find these clips. It’s one of my favorite quotes from So I Married an Axe Murderer, and I couldn’t find a full video clip anywhere. Alas, a website called Yarn saved the day.


Filed under health, mental health, personal

One Day Post at a Time

Song Lyric of the Day:

So, bless my heart and bless my mind / I got so much to do, I ain’t got much time

Alabama Shakes / “Hold On

I’ve made my peace with not being able to update here every day. I work outside the home most days, and it’s hard to find the time to write on a good day, nearly impossible on a bad/busy/interrupted day. I can always go the nocturnal-blogging route again, but I’ve been working hard to get to bed at a decent time on weeknights. I had lights out at 10:45 the other night — that’s a recent record. If I have lights out by 11:45 on most nights, I’m ahead of the game.

It’s OK that I haven’t posted a lot lately as not much is going on, other than life getting a bit overwhelming here and there (more on that another day). We drop the kids off at camp or Abuela’s house and day care, go to work, pick up the kids, and have family time in the evenings. We take care of household chores as time permits once the kids are in bed and based on what else we need to do, like cleaning up the trail of destruction I routinely leave in the kitchen when I cook. I am not a neat cook by any means; Rich once commented that when I cook it looks like the kitchen blew up. He’s not that far off with that assessment. On weekends we bust our asses catching up on housework and errands we can’t get done during the work week, because once I’m home from work and the pants have come off, I’m not going out again.

There’s a reason that the big bloggers I read post daily or at least with regular, scheduled frequency — they work from/at home and their blogs are their source of income. Which is obviously not the case for me. If I did have those 40 hours (plus commute time) at home every week, and didn’t have to work? Oh, the things I could get done:

I’d have the house looking like a show home, gleaming like the top of the Chrysler building (ha).

I’d actually — heaven forbid — plan meals and cook on a semi-regular basis. Well, at least more than I do now, anyway.

I’d get laundry done in a timely manner instead of a crap-the-kids-don’t-have-any-clean-shorts-left manner.

I’d be able to run errands at my own pace sans children.

Things would be more organized than they currently are, with things in the proper place instead of carefully controlled chaos.

I could work on landscaping projects early in the day before it heats up too much for me to be outside.

I could update my blog with some regularity.

I could work on my book and maybe even finish it someday.

Toys wouldn’t always be scattered all over upstairs in Hurricane Sebastian’s wake.

This is all also assuming that we would still have Sebastian in day care most days, but if I didn’t work outside the home he would not spend as many hours per day there as he does now.

I would be killing it as a mom and wife, instead of feeling like I fail in a million different little ways every day.

At least, that’s what I tell myself.

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Filed under blogging, life, personal, writing


Song Lyric of the Day:

When the going gets tough / And the stomach acids flow

Primus / “Seas of Cheese

As long as I can remember, I’ve had what was simply called a sensitive stomach. It wasn’t until about five years ago that I officially got the diagnosis of irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Irritable is an appropriate word for it, since it’s beyond irritating not knowing how something I eat is going to affect me. I can eat a certain meal Monday at lunch and be fine. I can have that exact same meal the next day or two days later and end up feeling like I might die. IBS is pretty much a really awful game of chance, with your stomach as the perpetual loser. I try to manage it — I know any food with high-fructose corn syrup is a huge trigger — but it’s not always easy to do so. I’ve learned to live with it, though. Combined with my wonky taste buds, it’s made me a (frustrated) picky eater out of necessity. I try to avoid trigger foods, but some I refuse to give up. I mean, spaghetti sauce? Yes, it’s acidic, but it’s also delicious and worth whatever I might have to deal with for indulging. I’ll go to my grave a bloated, stomach-cramped pasta-lover.

While I’m used to my IBS-related issues, last summer I noticed I was feeling really horrible pretty much around the clock. I at first thought maybe it was just my IBS being worse than usual, but decided to go see my gastroenterologist just in case. After discussing my symptoms, frequency, etc., my doc decided I should get an upper GI endoscopy. The day of the test came, and my friend Tamara drove me so Rich could get the kids to school and to Mom’s. Come scope time, I passed out as expected and woke up in a recovery room some time later. My doctor stopped by to let me know that I had significant scarring in my esophagus from acid reflux and that I had gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD). I was validated in that I wasn’t imagining my IBS had run amok, but I was shocked to hear about the scarring as I’d never felt acid reflux symptoms before — no burning, no pain, nothing. That is, until I was put on medication to treat it. I became aware of and felt every instance of acid reflux within days of starting Pantoprazole, and good grief, did it hurt. It took weeks to stabilize to the point where I was no longer feeling that pain. The really fun part is that a side effect of Pantroprazole happens to be the worst of my IBS symptoms. I am now on two additional medications to treat the reflux and GERD, and still trying to avoid trigger foods, although I’m a stress-eater, so lately I haven’t done as well as I should have. I’ve told the spouse on multiple occasions that I was much happier when I didn’t know all this was going on. Ignorance truly was bliss when it was just me and my IBS.

I’m never going to be the ideal IBS/GERD patient. I know that. Honestly, I just don’t have that kind of willpower. (Also: See above remark about stress-eating.) As it is, I’m currently part Samoa as Girl Scout Cookie season just ended and I have my dealer living in my house. My skin even has a nice, faint toasted-coconut scent to it now. I am, however, doing my best to moderate what I eat as well as add a bit more variety. It’s not easy, but it’s something I know I’ll have to work at and keep an eye on the rest of my life.

Fried Deviled Eggs

The fried deviled eggs at Scrambled Jake’s: so delicious and something I can only eat as a rare treat. (Photo taken by me)


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Filed under health, medical, personal

Pattie and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Last Couple of Weeks

Song Lyric of the Day:

Won’t you help me sober up / Growing up it made me numb / And I want to feel something again

AJR / “Sober Up

Life has turned into a country song of late: my hubby got sick; Sebastian got diagnosed with yet another ear infection; my 10-year-old dog, Troubadour, got diagnosed with early kidney failure; and then we were in a car accident.

We had just left Costco the next-to-last Saturday in March when we got rear-ended. We were taking Kingston Pike home as I-40 has been a parking lot of late. We’d gone several blocks when, slowing to a stop at a red light, we heard a car skidding. I looked to my left (I was driving) since for some reason I thought it was that car that was skidding. Wrong. We got hit and it took a moment to register what had happened. I think Coraline started screaming; she was asking over and over, “Were we just in an accident?!?” I think I might have started screaming in between asking if everyone was OK. Sebastian started screaming in reaction to his mom and sister freaking out. Rich was yelling for us to calm down. The man who hit us freaked out when he realized we had kids in the car; I believe he really did feel awful about it. His 1990-something Ford Bronco, a nice steel behemoth, ended up with only a loose grill. Not even a ding. My Chrysler Town and Country minivan, on the other hand …


The liftgate took the brunt of the impact. The dinosaur sticker survived.

But it could have been worse. That’s what we keep telling ourselves. Rich and I have both had some neck and back twinges since, starting right there at the accident site for me. I’m still dealing with some anxiety driving the rental van while my van is being repaired. The back roads and I have become closer than ever since they are not as heavily traveled as Kingston Pike, Middlebrook Pike, or the interstate. Fewer cars means less chance of getting hit again, right? (Fingers and toes crossed.) Being in an accident, although minor (thank God), was a literal manifestation of the only recurring nightmare I have, one that started when we were living in Chesapeake. And it was so much worse when it actually happened because both our kids were in the van. But we’re OK. We’re OK. Most importantly, my babies are OK.

The van will be fixed soon (I hope), and we are now driving a rental van that doesn’t stink – literally. The Nissan Quest we got at first had not been properly cleaned, had only half a tank of gas, and reeked of cigarette smoke. Cigarette smoke covered up with cheap air freshener. It smelled like what I imagine a vehicle smells like after a cologne-saturated, chain-smoking Johnny Depp is left in a car with all the windows rolled up on a hot day. Yes, that bad. Coraline would start complaining as soon as the doors opened. Also, the Quest had a meh design. It did accelerate like a race car, though, and had XM satellite radio, but those were the only pros on the list. FYI: Don’t rent from the Hertz at Windsor Square in Knoxville; we went with Hertz as Rich has President’s Circle status. Hertz corporate WILL be getting our feedback on that particular location and the vehicle, and it will not be good. At all. Thankfully, the airport Hertz location has its act together. I am now happily driving a CLEAN, fresh-scented Kia Sedona. It doesn’t have the same race-car pickup as the Quest, but it accelerates nicely and has a design we all like much better. Overall, I think it’s a much better minivan than the Quest. It does not have XM satellite radio, but I’m surviving with CDs. First-world problems and all. The tl; dr for this whole paragraph: Hertz Windsor Square, BAD. Hertz McGhee-Tyson Airport, GOOD. Nissan Quest: MEH. Kia Sedona: GOOD.

That’s the car stuff. The sick stuff is becoming par for the course, although it’s frustrating, especially with regard to Sebastian’s umpteenth ear infection. As for Troubadour, I’m still processing that. Our vet, who we love and has taken care of many of our four-legged babies over the years, was quick to say that this doesn’t mean Troubadour won’t live for a few more years. Which I pray he does. He’s my second-oldest son, after all. We’re doing our best to keep him comfortable and ensure he’s hydrated. He’s still a heavy drinker, which is good. After five vet visits — including one to the animal ER and two days of IV treatments — in one week, he’s starting to show flashes of his normal, healthy personality again. Last night he even mugged Sebastian, stealing his cracker. I never thought I’d be happy about that, but there you have it. I firmly believe my thieving dog has a lot more living left to do.

Troubadour at the ER

With his head in Mommy’s hand at the animal ER

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Filed under dogs, family, personal, pets

Behind Every Strong Woman Is Another Strong Woman

Song Lyric of the Day:

But there’s a hope that’s waiting for you in the dark / You should know you’re beautiful just the way you are / And you don’t have to change a thing, the world could change its heart / No scars to your beautiful, we’re stars and we’re beautiful

Alessia Cara / “Scars to Your Beautiful

Today is International Women’s Day. This year’s theme is #PressforProgress in the quest for gender parity. While I wholeheartedly support that, I thought I’d make things more personal and instead give a shout out to all the strong women in my life. I have to start with my mom, who was the glue who held our family together through the worst of my dad’s drinking. She’s always been at the top of my list of women I admire because she’s always been so strong. There’s a reason she kicked breast cancer’s ass almost 17 years ago. She’s shown me how to find strength I never knew I had, how to be a good mom, how to pinch a penny until it screams, how to make a fantastic lasagna — and countless other things big and small. I’m so proud my kids, especially Coraline, have her as a role model in their lives.

My younger sisters, who had kids before I did, also showed me how to be a good mom, and how to do it alone, both by choice and by circumstance. My other sister, who demonstrates remarkable strength in dealing with an “invisible” illness. My friends Pam and Julia, who have also kicked breast cancer’s ass. My sister from another mister who showed depression the door via yoga and with her little dog, too. My pale twin, who is always there for me, while also dealing with chronic illness. My friend and travel buddy Nan, who managed to rise from the ashes. Friends who have ended up single parents through choice, circumstance, and tragedy. My friend who puts her family above all else. Bosses who don’t play games and are role models for all of us who serve under them. And too many others to list in one post. All of these women have helped shape who I am, even in tiny ways they would never have guessed. All of these women are strong, amazing, kick-ass, fearless, inspiring, and I wouldn’t be where I am without them.

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Do You Hear What I Hear?

Song Lyric of the Day:

The sweet surrender of silence forces me to live alone / Locked and loaded, where the hell is peace of mind? / I wait on you inside the bottom of the deep blue sea

MISSIO / “Bottom of the Deep Blue Sea“*

For almost as long as I’ve been with Rich, he’s teased me about my hearing. I’d complain about how loudly our cat Buster would suck on the hem of my bathrobe; it would wake me up out of a dead sleep. Rich would ask, “How the hell can you hear that?” to which I’d answer, “How can you not?” While trying to fall asleep at night, tucked in our bed, I could hear our cats walking on the carpet in the living room, which was down the hall from our bedroom. Rich clipping his toenails pretty much anywhere in the house sounds like tiny bombs going off as the clippings hit the floor. He took to teasing me about my “bat hearing,” saying that I could probably hear the grass growing. Noises that no one else seemed to notice would bother me because they were just so obvious and loud to me.

A couple of years ago I finally went and got physical therapy for my vertigo. As part of my treatment, my ENT had me undergo a hearing test, during which I could hear almost everything going on in the soundproof booth where the audiologist was stationed. Afterward, when going over the results, both my ENT and the audiologist who administered the test told me that I could hear things most people can’t. Not that most people don’t, that most people can’t. Finally it was confirmed: I really can hear like a bat.

Having super hearing is … different. Once the hearing test confirmed it, I became even more aware of noises. I could isolate the one loud filament in a lightbulb in a noisy room. I can pick out notes in music that my family and friends never notice, even when I call attention to them. I can hear when Coraline and Sebastian so much as sigh in their sleep when I’m rooms away and watching TV or washing dishes. Hearing like this is more of a curse than a blessing, though, particularly when Rich travels for work. Because all it takes is for me to hear one tiny noise outside the house for my imagination to run wild. I’ll start out telling myself it’s a raccoon or a possum. Then that turns into someone trying to break into the house. That person then becomes a zombie trying to break into the house, because why not? It’s around this point that I curse myself for the umpteenth time for thinking that I could handle watching a movie like You’re Next or The Strangers right before bedtime when the spouse is away. Stupid, stupid Pattie.

I can also isolate noises a la Nick on Grimm. For my sanity, though, I’ve trained myself to better tune out sounds so I don’t obsess over them. Or, you know, imagine it’s a thieving zombie who’s come to rob my home and/or possibly eat my brain (their mistake) and then I end up not sleeping all night. I work to protect my hearing, using sound mufflers when I vacuum, use power lawn equipment, or use my paper shredder. I even started wearing them when taking glass to the recycling center since depositing the glass in the bins is painfully loud, although I imagine it is for most people. I also wear earplugs during movies (so does Rich) because the volume is almost always set to 11, and most of the movies we see in theaters are event movies with lots of action and explosions — you know, noisy.

I’ve made my peace with my bat hearing, though. I use it when I need it, whether it’s to ignore noisy electronics and lightbulbs so I can enjoy some peace and quiet, to figure out what the kids or pets are up to, or to eavesdrop (it’s amazing what people will talk about in public). I just choose to use my “power” for good more than for evil. Usually.

“I hear it, too, Pattie. The grass growing is SO. LOUD.”
*GIF courtesy of a Google search that led me to Black Nerd Problems

*If you haven’t heard this song before, click the song title link above and go watch the video right now. The music and video are absolutely beautiful. You’re welcome.

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