Wednesday, April 22, 2015

So Many Things Happened

I've been away for a while because so many things keep happening to me.

I would really treasure some time on my own for a while where I can just sleep and read books and look at a beautiful piece of nature. I'm not likely to get this any time soon, so I'm dealing with what I have.

My kids were both in the hospital, but are fine now. That was such a stressful time for me and we don't have any family near us to help, but I say that as if our family would help if they were closer, which they wouldn't. So it's much less of a loss than I would like.

My children are quite bright and have noticed that their grandparents seem less interested in them than watching grass grow, so periodically I need to reassure them that I will always be there.

My kids will ask things like, "You will visit us when we move out." or "If we have babies you'll come to see them often, right?" Often with a twinge of fear that we may simply abandon them for something else.

I have no idea why my family is so emotionally distant. I have some damn good guesses, but not any concrete answers. That would take some therapy, which is just not going to happen with these people.

The only thing I can do is create for my kids what I would have wanted as a child. A nice, safe, secure home where they are loved.

I definitely screw up, but they call me on it and I own it, which helps them. It also helps that every person in my house sees or has seen a therapist. It's helpful to get someone else's insight into your own crap. I think that the reason I have yet to go off the deep end is the fact that I will go see a therapist when the need arises.

I also try to keep up on my many, many, many coping strategies for stress. I have a pretty severe anxiety disorder so when things go topsy turvey in my life I need to remember to do the yoga, neuro-feedback, jogging, baking, etc. that I need to do to stay this side of sane...just barely.

So to all the parents out there on their own with grandparents that are too busy in the garden to help out and kids that are a challenge, just remember that wine is a great relaxant and time keeps moving forward.

Hugs & Love

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Why Child Stars Go Crazy

My mom started out as a model when she was a baby. Her dad had died right after she was born and her mom was not the brightest star in the sky. Someone said my mom was a cute baby and should be a model, so my grandma took her to a modeling agency and TaDa! my mom got hired as a model.

Most parents weren't up for pimping out there kids in the 40s, but Seattle didn't have many jobs for an infant. So my grandmother packed up my mom and her 10-year-old sister and moved them away from their support network and off to Hollywood. My grandmother got my mom an agent and my mom started working steadily until she was about 17.

She was in a LOT of movies. Most of them well known. She was Eve as a child in Three Faces of Eve, the daughter of the family in Days of Wine and Roses, The Buccaneer, Ten Commandments, Playhouse Theater, etc., etc., etc. Lots and lots of movies, TV shows plus lots of modeling as a kid = super crazy adult.

There's one thing they don't tell child stars. Once you get to be about 15 they can hire an adult and don't have to deal with all the laws around hiring kids.

This is why child stars go crazy. They go from being super important and famous to being nobody. They can't get a job and when they get to be an adult they usually are out of practice as an actor and no one cares about them anymore.

For my mom and many other child actors as well there was also the no money problem. My grandmother was not super bright so the money was all spent when my mom was old enough to need the financial boost to get her through to adulthood.

My mom was also angry. She'd never had a childhood. She missed school to do movies and when she returned to school the teachers were often resentful of her.

My mom told us quite a few stories about working on reports and assignments while she was on set only to have the teacher throw them in the trash right in front of her when she returned to school. She remembered the teachers being jealous of what they thought of as her "glamorous" life so they told her she was stupid and her work was worthless. The only teacher she remembered fondly was one of the studio teachers she would visit once she was in the Motion Picture Retirement Home that no longer exists.

My grandmother was also a terrible advocate for my mom. More worried about her getting the next job than her wellbeing. My mom was cruelly pinched by other actors and directors so her crying would be more realistic, she was on set longer than she should and worked really long hours waiting for her turn to shine.

So when I see Lyndsay Lohan and other former child stars go off the rails I always think about how hard their lives were to that point and how no one in their late teens and early twenties is equipped to deal with the sense of failure they experience when going from starlet to nobody. 

The parents still need to be better parents and advocates for their kids if they're going to push them into this kind of life. A group of former child stars from the 40s and 50s, my mom included, work with SAG to try to help parents be better advocates. Because Hollywood would treat kids better if all the parents were better, but they often choose to work with the "easy" parents who demand nothing from the studios. These are the parents that allow their kids to be worked more hours than they should or their babies to be kept under the hot lights longer than they should and smeared with cream cheese and jam to look like they're newborns. When the Screen Actors Guild runs workshops for parents of child actors the parents often say things like, "But what about my child's career?!!" This is often about their infant being taken advantage of. What career? 

But this blog wouldn't exist if I didn't also think that former child stars need to grow up and take responsibility for their actions. Yes, their childhood might have been terrible, but so was mine and you just need to get on with things.

This is my mom in The Remarkable Mr. Pennypacker.

 She's the girl in the front, on the left.
Girl in the middle.

Perfect Comic

This is so perfect for this blog!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Changing My Diet - On the Metabolically Broken

I have Hyperprolactinemia and Poly Cystic Ovarian Syndrome (PCOS) one of the many problems with this condition is that it's horribly under diagnosed. The other is that this is not a problem rooted in the ovaries, but it is a pituitary gland disease. For this particular disease the pituitary gland swells and it secretes excess prolactin. Since I'm not a doctor, I suggest you use Google from someone qualified to get more information.

My main point is that I have this disease. It went undiagnosed for so long that it ended up breaking my endocrine system, but now that my hormones are managed I'm feeling better.

However, my body is still pretty broken in that my triglycerides are off the charts and if I don't get them down my endocrine nurse is going to have her own heart attack. I also have tragic blood sugar issues. The disease also caused me to gain weight, which I now need to/want to lose.

But right now my body is pretty messed up metabolically and along with the disease  the root of this is....dum dum my childhood. I know, you're shocked.

So when I was 9 I was told by my mother that I was fat. Because she is just a kind and loving mom like that.When I look back on photos I realize I wasn't fat, but reality and my childhood were not really in agreement anyway.

She kept telling my I was fat, which was super helpful to me in both the development of my sense of self as well as wondering what in the hell I was supposed to do about it. She was the person who fed me. I was 9. It wasn't like I had the wherewithal to go do some research on body development and nutrition.

My mom decided to take me to a doctor that  "helped" overweight children and he put me on the tragic 1,000 calorie, low fat, high carb diet that helped make my body the trainwreck it is today.

I was on this diet of horrors until I was in my 20s and my lovely husband helped me to get a grip on reality. Unfortunately the damage had already been done and this along with my disease left me confused and lost.

In my quest to get healthy while I was sick I did lots of research on nutrition, micro-nutrients, alternative diets, etc. My family and friends had the poor pleasure of living with me through the many trends of no sugar baking, putting kale in everything and a whole lot of other nutrition ploys I tried in an attempt to stop feeling like I'd been run over by a car.

So now my body is healing, but I'm still not healthy. I need to change the way I eat so I can get the triglycerides down, manage the blood sugar and lose the weight.

So I'm on Atkins. Which sucks. Atkins is a low carb diet that should include veggies and starts at 20 grams of carbs a day. I have found that I need to stick to less then 12 grams of carbs a day or my body goes off ketosis, which is how you can measure weather Atkins is working or not.

So my body is so metabolically broken that it freaks out if I have really any carbs at all. I think that is so weird. It also means that I eat meat and eggs. That's pretty much it. I dream of brussel sprouts, but if I try to eat one, my body goes of ketosis.

This means that my body is SOOOO sensitive to what I eat that it is like dealing with a twitch control on a video game. One little push and my avatar falls off a cliff.

For a woman raised that veggies are better than anything, fat's the devil and carbs are great. This is a huge shift for me. I keep trying to sneak veggies into my diet, but then my body freaks out. It's so weird!

So I now have a list on my fridge of what I can eat so I stop trying to add in veggies and I'm stuck on this for probably a year. That seems to be how long it should take for my body to reset and stop flipping out.

I am not happy about this. So when you eat your brussels sprouts and your beets think of me kindly.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Traveling to Revolutionary Lithuania

My mother had a rather cavalier view toward my well being. She seemed to think that as long as I wasn't dead or missing any limbs then all was good.

This played out when I was spending a semester in Washington DC and asked by the Non Governmental Organization (NGO) I was working for if I would go over to Lithuania to be their first Field Officer. They were offering me the grand total of $350 and a round trip plane ticket. I mean how could I say no?!

So I called my mom to ask if she minded and she said that I had her full support. Not emotional or financial support, but you know, her support as my legal guardian. So that's awesome.

Now, let's play a pretend game where your real or imaginary child tells you that she's been offered a round trip ticket and $350 to go live in a country undergoing a revolution. If you have more sense than a duck you would probably say no. I would say, "HELL NO!" If my child were so confused as to ask me this.

I would then wonder where I had gone wrong in my parenting that my 19 year-old child thought that they were in any way prepared to live in a country in the midst of a revolution.

Did I speak the language? No.

Did I understand the culture? No.

Did I have an exist strategy if things went to hell? No.

Did I have any support from the NGO sending me over there? No

Was there anyone on the ground I could rely upon to get me up to speed? Nope.

It was a great plan.

My mom did help me borrow a full-length down coat from a friend of hers, so there's that.
My initial flight to Lithuania was delayed because the Soviet Union in protest of Lithuania declaring independence, sent in soldiers to take over the television towers in Vilnius, Lithuania where 13 people were killed. It was a huge deal in the international news and in many ways a turning point in the revolution.
My NGO moved back my travel date and instead of living in Vilnius, I was supposed to live in Kaunas, Lithuania and work for the University there along with working for the NGO on the conference.

I was told by the NGO that I was traveling under a visa with a false description of my work. I would be working with the revolutionary governments of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia to set up a conference with the USAID on how to run municipalities once they had their freedom. But in order to get the visa from the Soviet Union, my visa was applied for saying that I was going to do research at a university.

I was told that I should not get stopped by the police or KGB, because that would cause difficulties and if I got in trouble no one would be able to help me. (I know, I was brilliant for agreeing to this. But remember my other choice was my mother and this actually seemed like the better option.)

My plane landed at the Riga airport and was immediately surrounded by Soviet soldiers with their AK-47s pointed at the plane. This has to be one of the most frightening things to see when you're entering a country undergoing a revolution. Especially when your NGO told you that no one would come to your aid.

The soldiers didn't shoot me, but they did riffle through my luggage and I was on my way to do something that I was convinced had to be worthwhile.

I was met at the airport by an American-Lithuania young woman and a driver who took me to Kaunas.

I immediately started to learn new things just on the loooong drive. Things like, there are no gas stations on this route. Bathrooms are a luxury item not encouraged by the Soviet State. If you are hungry, you will stay hungry because there is nowhere to get food.

These are vital lessons. Especially if you need to pee and have to pee in the trees. I am still not skilled in this area.

We arrived in Kaunas, which is beautiful, it was late at night and I was promptly placed in a hotel across from the university and told who I should meet with the next day.

I think I passed out in my clothes that night. But I had arrived and that was a point in my favor.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

On Being Popular

I have social anxiety. This means that interacting with people freaks me the hell out. 

This was not really a problem at my small high school of 350 kids with a graduating class of around 90. I had some friends. I moved between social groups. It was all good.

But when I became a Sophomore in college I became inexplicably popular, for me anyway.

I joined a pre-law fraternity that year where I met my best friend and my kids godmother. It was the first time I found an entire group of people who made sense to me. We had conversations about international relations and politics. Argued about religion and human nature. It was great.

But these people were tragic party organizers so my friend and I became the social chairs and started to organize all the parties. They became more fun and I started to really enjoy the social aspects of school.

However, these people REALLY liked me and my friend. One or two of these people would take us out and treat us to dinner. They would find us when we were jogging at night so they could join us. We had to plan coffee nights so that we could all hang out in the evenings.They would even call out to us on campus and run over to talk with us while we walked to class.

To say that we had no idea what to do with this attention is an understatement. 

I was completely lost. Why in the hell did these people want to spend so much time with me. I'd spent a lot of time with me and I was fairly certain I was a dork and not nearly this interesting. 

Here I'm going to insert the obvious fact that the way I was raised, my terrible childhood and resulting low self esteem all came into play here along with my social anxiety, which I didn't know I had. 

So people kept coming up to talk with me and freaking me the hell out so I did the most obvious thing to me and became even more introverted.

I started to wear my Walkman ALL THE TIME. I would walk to class with the music up staring down at the ground so that the odds that I would hear these people was reduced. THEY STILL FOUND ME. So I turned the music up louder and took unexpected routes. It was not a normal response. But I'm not normal, so there you go.

My friend and I had regular conversations about why in the hell we were suddenly so popular. We still don't understand.

As the year wore on people took us out to fancy dinners to try and sway our votes for the next year's election. What the heck!

I think college should have like Friendship 101 for people like me, where they explain that this is normal behavior and people are allowed to like me and want to be my friend. It would have helped.

Both my friend and I went away the next year to do semesters abroad so I never reconnected with those friends because it was back in the stone ages when Facebook was just a dream. I still only talk to the best friend I made, but it was a bizarre life lesson.

I think I learned that I could be popular, which is a good thing to know. The fact that there are other people like me in the world and a place where I made sense is still comforting.

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

When A Longterm Disease Isn't All Bad

I laugh and smile more than anything else. My daughter pointed out to me tonight that the reason she thinks I’m so happy is because compared to my childhood everything must seem like a great day.

I was sick for 9 years with a horrible disease that had me practically narcoleptic most days, foggy brained, gaining weight while I was on diets, nightly hot flashes in my 30s, basically not super functional. Yet, that is still not a bad bunch of years.

My daughter was saying that for most people they talk about how terrible their diseases were. How they destroyed their lives. For me, those days were still great when compared to my youth, so I took the whole thing with a grain of salt. I’m well now so I just look forward.

She had me almost falling out of my chair laughing at how ludicrous it is that this is how I view my life. If I’m not surrounded by horrible people then it’s a great day.

I can’t imagine living any other way. I’m just happy to be where I am and have my funny, kind and loving family. I don’t deal with people who are mean or unkind because I don’t have to, so it’s great. It’s all a matter of perspective.