bipolar mom shares her insights on everyday life

Archive for July, 2008

Happy Birthday, Uncle Jer!

What do you call a guy who, even though he is as old as your parents, doesn’t act like it and is super-cool?  You call him “Uncle Jer!” 

As mentioned in an earlier post, Uncle Jer was pretty much responsible for getting me record albums that shaped my love of popular music.  (Even though, at my request he bought me “Donny and Marie: Hits from Their TV Show.”  I’m sure he put on a disguise when he had to go to the counter to buy that one!)  He’d record tapes of my favorite songs that he had albums of.  I particularly remember an Elton John one, but I know there were many others.  One time, I even told him I liked classical music, but I only liked the really dramatic, loud stuff.  (Before he was into rock, the man collected dozens, maybe even 100, of classical albums)  So, he made me two tapes:  Bombastical Classical and Even MORE Bombastical Classical.  How cool is that?

My brother and I would always go to Kansas City every year to visit Uncle Jer and Aunt Sher.  (I know.  They rhyme.)  We would go to Worlds of Fun and a Royals game.  Every year!  And, every year, Uncle Jer would ride all the rides with us at Worlds of Fun.  Whatever we wanted, he did.  I will never forget the time I wanted to ride the Screamroller.  It was one of the first upside-down loop-de-loop ones.  He said he’d go with me.  My brother didn’t want to go or was too short, I don’t remember.  So, we stood in this loooong line waiting to get on the coaster.  When we got directly under the upside-down section, I chickened out.  I looked at him and sheepishly asked, “Can we go back?  I don’t want to ride it anymore.”  He laughed and said, “Sure.”  He never made fun of me or anything.  Didn’t roll his eyes about the waste of time just standing there.  We just went back to my aunt and brother and moved on.  Very cool.

Now, about the Royals.  I am a die-hard Cardinals fan.  But, my uncle made me like the Royals enough to make them a close second.  My favorite player, Darrell Porter, first played for the Royals.  When he came to St. Louis, I was sooo thrilled.  I felt like I knew him already.  And, of course, there was George Brett.  We were there when his batting average hit .400.  That was cool. 

My uncle is hilarious, too.  When we went to a Royals game, early on in our KC visiting history, Al Hrabosky “The Mad Hungarian” was a pitcher.  I said something like, “I hate that guy.”  Well, throughout the game, Uncle Jer would yell out, “Michelle wants Al!”  I would hiss, “No I don’t!”  Then, he’d do it again.  And again.  And again.  I felt like I was turning four shades of red, but it was funny.

My brother and I tried to teach my aunt and uncle the card game “I Doubt It.”  You may know it as another name, but the way it works is you go around the table and in numerical order you say, “I have one Ace.”  If someone says, “I doubt it” and you did play one Ace, then they have to pick up all the cards in the pile.  If they say “I doubt it” and you didn’t play an Ace, then YOU have to pick up the cards.  Then, the next person has to do 2’s, then 3’s, etc.  Well, when it got to Uncle Jer, he would say, “I don’t have any 8s.”  At first, my brother and I would get soooo frustrated!  Then, it just became funny. 

The classic Uncle Jer line is the funniest.  (Feel free to use it at your next dinner party.)  At a dinner everyone was complimenting the chef (I have no idea if it was my mom or my aunt) on various dishes.  “Oh, good roast beef”  “Good green beans”  and then my uncle says, “Good ice cubes.”  Maybe you had to be there, but it really was funny.  And, now it is just something we all say when everyone starts commenting on the food.

So, yeah.  My Uncle Jer is pretty awesome.  He even took me to a Rick Springfield concert and we had an excellent time.  I can’t imagine doing that with any other relative other than my cool Uncle Jer.

So, Happy Birthday, Uncle Jer!  May you rock on for years to come!

Welcome to the 21st Century

I just realized the other day when I was at the mall, (I hardly ever go there.  Never have cared for the mall-scene) that there are no record stores any more.  No Camelot Music, no Record Bar, and Peaches is long gone. (remember the crates?  I had one for cassettes and still regret not buying one for my albums.)

Our kids will never know what it was like to go into a store, hear some music, and ask what was playing.  They’ll never pick up a cd or (gasp) and album, turn it over to look at the songs, put it back, pick up another and spend hours scanning the record bins.  To look through the posters in the back of your favorite bands.  To check out the latest T-shirts.

Sure, they can do that at Target, Wal-Mart, and yes, even Best Buy.  But is that really the same?  The record store was strictly for music lovers.  Even a place to flirt with someone who had the same taste in music as you did.  (Mom, you can pick your jaw up now.)

I really wonder how many people even buy cds anymore.  I don’t.  I download a song that I like instead of buying a whole cd for one song.  Oops.  I take that back.  I do buy Contemporary Christian cds.  I try to keep up with those songs for my gig as a drummer at church.  (hee hee.  gig.) 

Another thing I find funny, on a related topic, is that when I was a kid, people made fun of K-tel records.  Remember those?  They had a variety of songs on them from various artists.  (the REAL artists, not cover bands) I own several, actually.  Thanks to my Uncle Jer, who loves to listen to music even more than I do.  He’d get me one every Christmas and birthday, I think.  They had great titles:  Rock Power, Sound Explosion, and High Voltage!  All the songs on the albums (probably 10 on each side) were top hits.  And, the price was significantly cheaper than buying each single separately.  Plus, it introduced me to new songs.  If it hadn’t been for K-Tel, I never would have heard “China Grove.”

My point here is that these days, no one makes fun of the “Now” cds.  They are top-sellers almost every time they come out with a new one.  My kids have a couple.  I buy the “Wow” cds (Contemporary Christian’s year’s best compilation) every year.  So, why did K-tel get snubbed?  Even most record collectors today laugh at them, even though a K-tel album may get more than $100 on eBay.

I guess I was just feeling nostalgic today.  My husband and I have taken it upon ourselves to introduce our kids to the movies and music that we loved when we were younger.  And, I’m happy to say that my daughter had her cd player cranked up while playing “The Rubberband Man” and “Billy Don’t Be a Hero.”  Ah, those were the days.

The Little Engine that Could

“I think I can.  I think I can,” was what I was saying in my mind today as I was trying to find the Amtrak station downtown.  Then, I started saying other things that should not be printed here.  But, again, in my mind, because my children were in the car.

First of all, let me explain that our family is going on a train trip to Dallas later this week.  Everyone is very excited to visit family and friends and to take the Texas Eagle, one of Amtrak’s nicest trains.

We would be able to just go to the train station and pick up our tickets on the same day, but my husband suggested that we get them beforehand, just in case there were mistakes or something like that.  I agreed with him, and said I would go and get them.

Another point that needs to be made is that I just don’t drive downtown.  Heck, I don’t drive inside 270!  I’m a West County girl and do well to get around here.  I don’t need to go downtown except for Cardinal games and Tom is almost always going with me, so I don’t even have to drive there.  I have driven to the stadium, however.  But, I only know how to get there.  I know I’m exiting on the correct ramp when I see that guy with the weird eye selling peanuts at the corner.  Oh, and when Tom used to work for Famous Barr, I knew how to get to his building to pick him up.  (One time I dropped him off in the morning, and could NOT find my way back home.  I had no idea how to get to the highway, so I just kept driving west, hoping I’d hit something I’d recognize or a sign for the highway.  Yeah.  That didn’t happen.  I finally called Tom and asked him where I was.  Pathetic, I know.  I think I was taking Clayton in all the way.  I’m trying to block that day out.)

So, I hit Mapquest and charted out my route.  Now before any of you start rolling your eyes about Mapquest, let me just say that the address was on Market Street, so I figured Mapquest could get that right.  I put Mark in charge of reading the directions to me.  The S. Kingshighway exit was closed, but it gave us a detour via the Jefferson exit.  We handled that just fine.

Then we got on Market and the rest of it went downhill quickly.  The address was 800 Market.  We found Union Station, the shopping area, very quickly.  It was in the 1200 range, I think.  So we kept driving east.  Could NOT find 800.  Circled a couple of blocks.  Still no 800.

Finally, we were on Clark and saw an Amtrak sign with an arrow pointing straight ahead.  Yeah!  Well, that was the last sign we saw and we ended up at Union Station again.  We circled again, thinking we missed another sign.  Nope.  We finally pulled over on Market and I called Amtrak’s number.  No answer.  Nice.

We have now been in the car for over an hour and a half.  My patience is wearing thin.  I mean we are taking as thin as Kate Moss.  I said, “You know, you’d think we be close to the train tracks.”  Karen says, “I have an idea.”  At this point, I’m thinking a 10-year-old would probably have as good as or a better chance at finding this place as anyone, certainly better than me. 

So, Karen says, “Take a right as soon as you can.”  This young lady has already figured out, from her mother’s frustrations, that there are one-way streets that we can not use to go south.  I’m already impressed.  Then we turn right and pass Clark.  This is the first time we’ve been south of Clark.  We keep going.  Sure enough, there’s an Amtrak sign telling us to go straight.  Cool.  Then we cross over the train tracks and Mark notes that there is an Amtrak train sitting there.  Sweet!  Then, another sign telling us to turn right.  I want to stop the car and hug Karen so tight she bursts.  But, I resist that urge and keep driving.  We saw a stained glass looking thing crossing over the tracks.  Mark and Karen agree to keep looking at it so that we can find the station.  I explain that I have to watch for one-way streets.  They agree.  Sure enough, ANOTHER Amtrak sign telling us to turn right again!  The kids see the trains!  Another sign telling us to turn right again, and there we are.  WAHOOO! 

This station is so small.  (How small is it?)  It is so small that when you are sitting in the waiting area, your elbow is in the Ladies Room.  But, that aside, we are elated!  We entered the small building (which, by the way, has little parking because of construction), and printed our tickets and left.

I had Karen write down how to get out of there, so we could tell my dad how to actually take us there when we leave.  Turns out that if we had continued down Poplar (on the east side of Union Station) just past the parking lots, we would have seen it.  Oh well.

Then, once I got home, I decided to check what the Amtrak page had to say about the station.  Heh.  Address?  551 S. 16th Street.  No mention of Market.  Not even 800 16th Street.  Thanks a lot, Mapquest. 

So, Pollyanna is playing the glad game now.  I’m glad that Karen was the one to help us find the station.  It really boosted her confidence.  I’m glad that Mark went along because he helped me get to the right part of downtown.  And, I’m glad that it’s finally over.

Put Your Feet Up!

Today is my day off.  Mondays, you know.  I finally resigned myself to doing this.  I know some of you may think that I’ve been doing it all along and enjoying it.  Well, truth be told, I haven’t really been taking Mondays off.  I usually find something that needs to be done, and I go do it.  Or, one of the kids asks to be taken somewhere, and I take them. 

I have realized that the weekends do pose a slight change in my mood on Monday.  I do well with structure, and the weekends just don’t work that way.  This summer is completely without structure other than cleaning tasks that the kids and I have each day.  So, to have just one day to not worry about the hectic (crazy) days, I get to do what I would like to do.  (Again, I highly recommend this to all people, not just bipolars.) 

Well, today my son asked me if he could go to a friend’s house, and I asked him to handle it without involving me.  So far, so good.  The kid’s mom is going to pick him up after lunch, and Tom will bring him back on his way home.

I am going to do laundry.  Not because it is needing to be done, but because I’ve kinda enjoyed it lately.  And, the feeling of doing a load or two a day makes me feel good.  So, even though to some that may be work, for me it is an enjoyable activity.  (Unless of course, mystery stains are involved, then I’ll just wait until tomorrow for those.)

So, I get to do what I want.  Like scrapbook.  Make cards.  Blog.

Kent the Great Spouts More Wisdom

I went into Kent’s office yesterday a complete mess.  All he had to do was ask, “So, what’s up?” and I was in tears.  The first words he could understand were “I’m trying to please everybody,” and then more sobbing.

He talked to me for a long time and I explained that I had be anxious all week.  Not agitated, but anxious.  I didn’t want my son to go to Boy Scout camp.  I didn’t want my husband to join him later in the week, I didn’t want to drive my friends down to Family Night at Scout camp.  I didn’t want my daughter to have a sleepover that night.  And by “didn’t want to” I meant I was freaking out about all those things.  Working myself up.  Even though I could tell myself there was no logical reason for doing so.

I told Kent that I think one of the problems is that even though I’m technically getting at least 8 hours of sleep each night, that I think my CPAP machine needed to have the pressure increased because I was always really drowsy in the afternoons.  I mean, dropping off to sleep while on the computer without realizing it, drowsy.  And, since sleep is my trigger, I was not able to fight things off like I usually do.

Kent was quick to tell me how far I had come.  He said, “In the past, you would have done anything to avoid doing those things that made you anxious.  But this time you pushed yourself and did them anyway.  That’s a big step.  You recognized that your fears were not really justified, so you tried to not listen to those voices telling you “You shouldn’t do that.”  “Yes, you should”  “No, you shouldn’t.”  Let me be quick to point out that I didn’t REALLY hear voices this time.  It is more like the cartoon with the devil on one shoulder and the angel on the other.

I had also said I thought I might be doing too much, and that other people might tell me so.  And, since I’m trying to please people, I didn’t know what to say to make everyone happy.  He gave this great piece of advice.  This is the nugget of information that I want you all to think about when you are trying to decide whether or not to take something on.

SWOT

Strengths

Weaknesses

Opportunity

Threat

This is to help you with decisions about desires you may have.  For example, the driving the friends down to Family Night could be broken down like this:

Strengths – I like the women I am driving, I have a van and no one else had a car available, I usually don’t mind driving.  I wanted to go see Mark.

Weaknesses – I don’t like to drive at night.  I didn’t know where I was going, really. 

Opportunity  – This is a one-time deal.  I can’t go another evening.  This was it.

Threat – I could get in a car accident.

So, after considering all those factors, it made sense to go ahead and go. 

Here’s another example.  I desire to play major league baseball (hypothetically, of course!).

Strengths – I like to play baseball.  I have a good arm.

Weaknesses – I cannot throw a 90 mile an hour fastball.  I’m a woman.

Opportunity – Virtually none.

Threat – None, really.

After review my SWOT, this would not be a good desire to pursue.  It would be better to go play catch with my son in the backyard.

I left Kent’s office feeling better than I had all week.  I had told him that I didn’t want to back out on the sleepover for my daughter.  I didn’t want her to always think of her mom trying to sleep off the “bad moods” or moping around.  Or drugged up.  I mentioned that I had thought about inviting a friend over to scrapbook while the girls were here.  He thought that was a great idea.  He also mentioned having the girls go swimming to release that energy early in the night so they would more likely go to sleep quickly.

Last night worked out just great.  My neighbor across the street came over and she is SO low-maintance, that we just talked (and talked, and talked) and scrapbooked until the girls went to bed.  It was perfect, really.  Of course, I SWOTed the idea before inviting her.  It was obvious that I really should give it a go, and it worked out perfectly.

We are headed to Dallas next week, and I’m not anxious about that one iota.  Kent said that was because in my mind I knew that it was ABSOLUTELY the right thing to do.  Amen to that! 

It’s weird to me how quickly he can calm me down and help me analyze what is going on and why.  And, how to deal with it.

So, tune in for our next VISIT WITH KENT the second week of August!  Same Bat Time.  Same Bat Channel.

Oscar the Grouch Welcome Here!

Oh my gosh.  I just spent an hour in the basement cleaning up my daughter’s side.  It was supposed to be a classroom for her to pretend to be a teacher.  But, trust me, this property would be condemned, if it were. 

I lugged out: 2 trash bags of trash, 1 bag of stuff for charity, and a large box of recycling items. 

The problem is…you can hardly tell I did anything!

Now, if I had asked her to do it, it would have been a disaster because she would have cleaned about 15 minutes and then start playing, thinking it was done.  Plus, she would have saved a lot that I threw away.  Papers, awards, papers, notebooks, papers, glue sticks, and more paper.  Geez!  I thought I had a paper problem!

My son’s side of the basement is entirely Legos.  He and his friend build towns and then shoot movies with the them.  Pretty cool.  But, he doesn’t want to put them in boxes or sort them or anything like that.  He just spreads them out on the floor so that he can see what he has.  I’m fine with that.  If I asked him to clean it up, he could just scoop up all the Legos and put them in bins until the next time he wanted to use them.

Of course, my husband’s section of the basement is very tidy.  Well, for a workshop, anyway.  He’s got stuff where he wants it.  And, can probably find it when needed.

My section is somewhat organized.  Right after my stay in the loony bin I got a bee in my bonnet (what’s that phrase about?) to start cleaning stuff up and out.  So I had these shelves that we just jam-packed with stuff and I had no idea where to find anything other than Christmas stuff.  That holiday has it’s own shelf.  Now, that is all pretty organized.  I have had some stuff spill out of there into the adjoining section that is considered “common ground” and I really should get around to picking through it or finda place for it all.  But, until then, I’m good with it.

So, now I’m sitting here, taking a break, in front of the box fan, just waiting to cool off enough to take a shower.

But, let this serve as a warning.  If ANYONE reading this blog buys my daughter any more “School Stuff,” prepare for the Wrath of ZUZU!!!!  Unless, of course, it is an industrial strength vacuum cleaner.

Isn’t it Ironic???

Is it just me or is it ironic that I couldn’t do a crossword in an AARP magazine without my reading glasses?  Shouldn’t those of all things be in LARGE PRINT?  C’MON!!

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