Saturday, September 29, 2007

Alcohol = breast cancer

Consuming one serving of alcohol a day (doesn't matter what kind, either) increases a woman's risk of breast cancer by 10%, they just announced. An average of 3 or more drinks a day means an increased risk of 30%.

I'm screwed.

Actually, these meds may have another benefit (besides the obvious "keeping my nutty ass out of jail" one)--I've had to severely cut my alcohol intake. First of all, alcohol and bipolar don't mix (in fact, I've learned that it's one of my personal "triggers"); but more than that, the meds make the alcohol affect me much more quickly. Before, I could sit with J. at Benny's after work, knock back 6* glasses of wine and barely feel a buzz; now, I start feeling anything much more than a glass and a half. Plus, I've been trying to drink less since my psychiatrist said I had a potential "alcohol problem". I told her, "No way! I drink as much as the other teachers at my school. In fact, there are lots of teachers who drink WAY more than I do!" and she said "Yes, but we're not talking about other teachers. We're talking about YOU." I felt like a 5-year-old. A 5-year-old LUSH, mind you, but a 5-year-old nonetheless. Anyway, she said that with 2 alcoholic uncles (at least) and the amount I was consuming, I had to be careful, as I was walking the fine line between "problem" and "-ism."

The last reason, of course, that I've been trying to cut back on my alcohol is the diet. Wine has fewer calories than other forms of alcohol, but it's calories nonetheless. And speaking of which--

Another pound and a half this week, baby! I'm down to 145--which was my initial goal weight. My "final" goal weight is 140. Whoo ooo!!! I'm damn close to my "skinny weight" now!! I'm almost back where I was!!

UPDATE: I'm wearing my skinny jeans on my date with Former Marine tonight. This is the first time I've worn them in over a year. Whoo hoo!!

*It's 2-for-1 at Benny's, so it was only 3 "rounds". I couldn't help it if they brought me 2 for every 1 I ordered!

Friday, September 28, 2007

PMS much?

This month, I blubbered my way through Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?

(Yes, AGAIN.)

But this was their graduation night, so it was justifiable. (Right?) Jeff Foxworthy presented them all with $25K savings bonds for their own futures and it was so touching and they were so excited that I got all verklempt. (Hell, I'm tearing up again just thinking about it.) Plus, it made me think of my current 5th graders--who I'm already SO attached to--graduating to middle school. And then, to make it worse, my 7th graders from last year, now 8th graders, will have their OWN graduation ceremony to high school. (There's already SUCH a change in them from last year, especially the boys. Hell, they're young men now.)

Anyway, between the two, I'll be a MESS come June.
More words to live by

Just saw this on Myspace...

"If you cant handle me at my worst, you don't deserve me at my best."
Dating in your 30s

This started out as a reply to a comment; then I decided, the more I typed, that it was worthy of a separate post.

It's kind of funny, but I'm becoming almost PROUD of my childless ( know) and never-married status. Although I was feeling quite old-maid-ish in my late 20s, something happened as I hit this new decade....I wear it now as a badge of pride, rather than a "What the hell is wrong with HER? Why has no one married her yet?" type of thing. People like me are becoming increasingly rare in Dating Land, that's for sure. Instead of being divorced and on my 2nd go-around, I'm still waiting for the right guy. I'd rather be single till I'm 40 and find "the one" than to get married at 22 and divorced at 28, ya know?

(DISCLAIMER TO THE DATING GODS: that does not mean that I HOPE I'm single till I'm 40. Just so we're clear on that fact.)

Instead of becoming LESS picky and settling as I get older, I find myself becoming MORE picky about the men I date (and keep around). Shit. I've waited THIS long; I'm sure not going to settle now.

As many of you know, I have pretty low self-esteem. However, for all of my many, many flaws, I can recognize this truth about myself: I am an incredibly loving, compassionate person. When I love someone, I LOVE them--totally and completely. I do my absolute best to make them happy. Do I fuck up every now and then? Hell, yeah. But I still feel that what I have to offer outweighs those cons. Because like everyone else, I'm human. I can only do so much. And--OOH, EPIPHANY!!!--this is why I'm so forgiving of others' mistakes. This is why it's so hard for me to hold a grudge. This is why I still talk to the exes who treated me like crap or the people who have hurt me along the way....because I know what it's like to fuck up. ROYALLY. And I hope people will forgive ME and see the good that *I* still have to offer, in spite of it all. And that's what I do: even when someone's an ass to me, I still focus on the good--because that's exactly what I hope they'll do for me.

And you know what? If, along the way, someone CAN'T forgive me or stand by me--well, that's fine. I don't have to answer to them. But I do have to answer to ME. And no matter how badly they knock me down, I'll know that *I* always gave them the benefit of the doubt, I always loved THEM with an open heart, I always forgave THEM--even if it ended up biting me in the ass.

Everything happens for a reason, and God knows I saw my share of trials during my 20s (and even the first 9 months of my 30s) and learned my share of lessons. I have to believe that it's all leading up to/ preparing me for SOMETHING, ya know? It's like the name of this blog is truly coming to fruition:

I set out on a narrow way many years ago
Hoping I would find true love along the broken road
But I got lost a time or two
Wiped my brow and kept pushing through
I couldn't see how every sign pointed straight to you

Every long lost dream led me to where you are
Others who broke my heart they were like northern stars
Pointing me on my way into your loving arms
This much I know is true
That God blessed the broken road
That led me straight to you...
It's all part of a grander plan that is coming true

I'm still single as a motherf*cker--but at least now I can see the REASON for it...and be okay with it.

Thursday, September 27, 2007


I feel like I SHOULD write something, but there isn't much to say. I just feel kind of...blah. For someone on a cocktail of happy pills, I should feel a helluva lot perkier than I do. I'm just tired, I think. Been pulling my 55-60 hour weeks again (and then coming home and grading papers for another 2 or 3 hours). So add that to a lack of sleep and you have a Draggin'-Ass Jen. (I'm TRYING to sleep; I just haven't been able to the last week or so.)

Things with Single Dad fizzled out. As some of you know, I started getting some distinct warning signs that things may not be completely resolved/settled with his ex...and God knows I don't want to get into one of THOSE situations again. Jesus, the things Golf Course Guy and I had to deal with were freakin' insane. Literally.

(One could argue that my calling someone else insane is like the pot calling the kettle crazy, but at least I had a justifiable cause and am fixable. Some people are just flat-out psychotic bitches for no other reason than to fuck with people's lives. But I digress.)

Anyway, Single Dad is no more. I'm now talking to a former Marine (hubba hubba) and another guy but I can't remember what he does. Both have a kid. Man, dating sure changed once I hit 30. Divorced and/or kids is now the rule, not the exception. (Both of these guys are never married, though.)

So that's about it. Oh, and a general memo to my sisters: please stop having kids in September. It's one hell of an expensive month. Plus, I get back from the card store, read my email, remember that someone ELSE is having a birthday and then go back. I've been doing that all month. Sure, I could just pull a Renee and get organized and buy them all at once at the start of the month and mail them out so they actually get there BEFORE each birthday....but then that wouldn't be ME, now would it?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Tribute to My Homeless Guy

As some of you know, I read online last night that the body of a homeless man was found here in the neighborhood this past weekend. And based on the picture, it's "my" homeless guy.

Now mind you, I had never even talked to the man. But since I moved here a year ago, I've seen him almost every week. He was always around (near Publix and the bowling alley, where his body was found, seemed to be his two most frequent hangouts). He was never asking for handouts. He'd just walk around. Sometimes he'd sit down on the grass and just watch everyone go by. And every time I saw him, I always thought, "Man, I should stop and help him"--give him money, food, SOMETHING. And, of course, I never did. I always had somewhere I just HAD to be. Or I didn't have cash on me. Or any one of a number of excuses.

I'll do it later, I told myself. Next time.

I told myself that for over a year.

So part of the tears were guilt-induced. Part of it was...I don't know. He had just become, in a weird way, a part of my life. Kind of like the old man I always see walking back from the gas station every morning, like clockwork, on my way to work.

And then I had a thought that just broke my heart: I was probably the only one in the whole world who cried at his passing. He left this world and barely anyone even noticed.

So here's to Richard, my homeless guy: I sure hope that wherever you are now is a hell of a lot better than your life down here. You WILL be missed.

I just wanted you to know that.

Monday, September 24, 2007


Blame it on Kish.

I got an email from her today talking about an upcoming visit to the apple orchard.

Oh, MAN. Apple orchards and apple cider and donuts and pumpkin patches and leaves changing colors and burning leaves (which gives me asthma but still) and caramel apples (I only want those in the fall) and the air getting chillier....I MISS THAT.

I had actually plumb forgotten that it was fall back home, too. (Yes, I said "plumb." Apparently, being homesick almost makes me a dork.)

The winter season isn't so bad, because a) winter sucks ass and b) I can at least experience it while I'm home for the holidays. But fall? I miss the whole damn thing. I haven't seen fall since 2006. Wow. That's weird. I can't do it this year, but maybe I'll fly home next year for a fall weekend (like my birthday). Although it won't be the same without hitting the haunted houses and orchards with Anna....

OH, COME ON!!! As I was composing this blog, the following email came in from my friends at "10 Fall Apple Favorites." Son of a BITCH. (PS: What the HELL are "cooking apples" and how are they different from "eating apples"?)

As Ross on Friends would say: Bummin' hard, guys. Bummin' hard.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Words of wisdom

The hardest thing is loving someone and then having the courage to let them love you back.

Unfortunately, they're not MY words of wisom. They're from the movie "The Wedding Date" (which I love, by the way).

Still good, though.

Saturday, September 22, 2007


When you mix women, alcohol and bedroom aids, pretty much anything goes. I've seen and heard some crazy things at my Pure Romance parties (which is part of the reason they're so fun). However, I overheard something last night that made me laugh really hard. Now, perhaps this was taken out of context--and maybe you had to be there--but as I was taking orders in the back bedroom, the following snippet of conversation wafted down the hall to us:

"And he told me, 'Put your shirt back on!' and I said, 'But I just took it off!!' "


Thursday, September 20, 2007

Well, our smoke alarm works


As I was watching Must See TV tonight, a piercing shriek suddenly filled the condo.

I frantically jumped up and, disoriented, tried to figure out what the hell was going on. Was it a tornado siren? (We had a drill today at school due to some severe weather so I had tornadoes on the brain.) Suddenly, I realized that it was the smoke alarm.

And a split second after THAT, I realized why.

I went tear-assing into the kitchen (running into the stripper pole as I rounded the corner from my room into the dining room), where I found a bit of a "situation" on the stove.

See, I had been boiling one of my Pure Romance Hot Heart Massagers. Basically, they're reusable heat packs that are just WONDERFUL. To "reset" them for subsequent use, you simply boil them for 7-10 minutes. Due to being wrapped up in my TV viewing, however, I had inadvertantly been boiling mine for 45-60 minutes.

Anyway, to make a long story short: the water had completely evaporated, the Massager had exploded and the plastic remnants had caught fire.

No exaggeration: the smoke was so thick that my eyes were watering and burning. The noxious fumes probably explain why I had started to feel slightly dizzy.

Everything is back under control now, although I probably have some irritated neighbors. Seeing as how the average age of residents in these condos is roughly 105 and the average bedtime is about 6 pm--and seeing as how I had to throw open every door and window to get the shrieking to stop--they probably weren't too appreciative of all the action coming out of Unit 810.

Never a dull moment.



Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Amen and hallelujah

Party Of One
By Julia Allison Special to Yahoo! Personals

Although I'm rarely accused of "having good timing" (or tact, for that matter), it seems that my luck has finally turned: Today I've parted ways with the jerk, er, guy I was seeing, just in time for the nonstop thrill ride that is National Singles Week. Er, excuse me -- National Unmarried and Singles Americans Week. Because I am nothing if not a serious investigative journalist, I did a hard-hitting piece on the phenomenon that's sweeping our nation: Celebrating being single during an assigned week! Most reporters would shy away from such a controversial subject. Not me. It's all about the story, people. With that, today's column, Party of One. Cue "All By Myself."

If you're one of the 95 million Americans who stubbornly refuse to join in wedded bliss, the commemorative holiday you've been feverishly anticipating is finally here. That's right, spouse-less slackers, it's National Unmarried And Single Americans Week! Possessors of a marriage license, get thee to the sleepy bedroom 'burbs. This week is NOT for you!

As for the rest -- I know it's difficult to contain your exuberance.

You've no doubt already planned several rollicking events, probably involving whipped cream and speed dating.
You've no doubt already planned several rollicking events, probably involving whipped cream and speed dating. After all, times when you can officially celebrate not having a ball & chain come but once a year. (Excluding bachelor parties. Obviously.)

The esteemed holiday was founded in 1984 by a courageous group of Ohioans called the Buckeye Singles Council, who clearly had too much free time on their (ring-less) hands. Disgruntled with the smug marrieds in their state, they decided that they just wouldn't stand for it anymore.No longer....

No longer would they ignore the blatant favoritism accorded to those with marriage certificates!
No longer would they put up with the inferior status of those without contractual agreements sealed with large, expensive parties involving multi-tiered cakes!
No longer would they answer their mother's insistent phone calls about "that nice Jewish orthodontist"!

They retaliated by proclaiming that forthwith, the third week in September would be reserved solely for honoring unmarried people throughout the nation as well as creating awareness of the rampant discrimination against their kind. Oh, you think the unattached don't really suffer discrimination? I bet you're married, you single-hater!

According to one dating expert I spoke with, "There is still a stigma and embarrassment about being alone."

Yeah! Here's to all the stigmatized, embarrassed singles out there. Grab your cats and a bottle of warm white wine and raise a toast to life without joint tax returns, "checking in," and mandatory visits with ugly in-laws.

"This week single people are finally given permission to actually get out and enjoy themselves," the expert explained.


Singles are the only people who DON'T need permission to go enjoy themselves!
Singles are the only people who DON'T need permission to go enjoy themselves!
Beyond that, how should we losers without wedding bands celebrate this momentous occasion? Alcohol, nudity, repeated trips to Scores?

According to the expert, we can "get a good night's sleep, hang out with friends, or go for a great haircut."

Personally, I was leaning towards the alcohol and nudity, but okay. I guess a haircut sounds nice too.
And of course, nothing says "I'm going all out to properly commemorate National Unmarried and Single Americans Week" like getting a good night's sleep.
I knew this was going to be the Best Week Ever.
Burning bridges

Yeah, you guys are right. This friendship thing with Dave just isn't going to happen. It hit me tonight on the phone--realizing the way he talks to me and treats me. It's like seeing everything in a different light. I tried to justify it before but guess what? I AIN'T CRAZY NO MO'. My mind is getting right and so is my perspective.

Anyway, it was good (well, some of it) while it lasted, but it's time to just burn that bridge and move on. We didn't work out for a LOT of reasons--and guess what? They weren't all on my end. And the same things that made me miserable in the relationship are the same things that are making me miserable in the friendship.

I don't hope he gets hit by a bus or anything but as of about 10 minutes ago, he really doesn't mean anything to me anymore. After all, you can't care about someone who treats you like dirt.

Monday, September 17, 2007

On the plus side....

Single Dad is taking me to the Brad Paisley/Rodney Atkins concert on Sunday night! I haven't been to a country concert since Garth Brooks in college, but I DO listen to country and I like a lot of their songs, such as Paisley's "She's Everything" (my ringtone for a while--the most beautiful song I've ever heard....I mean, if you believe in love and all that shit) and Atkins's "If You're Goin' Thru Hell" and "These Are My People."

And, I haven't been to a concert at all since I moved here, so it'll be fun.

We went out to dinner again tonight, sat there for 3 hours, and then he came back here, I changed into my walking shoes and we walked around another hour and a half.

He's pretty cool, so far. ;)

Sunday, September 16, 2007

It's a twist-ah!

A tornado hit our county today. Luckily (well, for me) it didn't hit Ft. Myers, though. It hit the city next door, Cape Coral. (To put it in perspective, it's like living in North Holland and having a tornado hit Zeeland, or Grand Haven--pretty damn close. For Anna, think Metro Detroit: Livonia and...Farmington Hills, let's say).

Tornados are horrible anywhere, but they're extra scary here in South Florida. See, houses in Florida don't have basements. So we don't really have anywhere "safe" to go, other than a closet or something. (It was once explained to me WHY there aren't basements, but I don't really get it. It has to do with the water in the ground, or something.)

They're still trying to assess the damage but I know cars are flipped over, some houses have serious damage and over 2,000 people lost power. No word yet on injuries or deaths.

If any of you are really bored, you can watch some home footage of it here:

As you know, I'm back in the dating world now, but I feel much more....bitter? Cynical? Unexcited? than ever before. There have been a few times in my life, including one very recently, where I thought I found "the one." The one I would be with the rest of my life. Instead, once again, a nasty, incredibly painful breakup ensued. And I feel like....with every breakup, another part of my heart just...disappears. And I've been doing this for, what, 15 years?

Anyway, I had another date this weekend. And it went very well. We had dinner, the conversation flowed, we sat there for quite a while afterwards and talked. He's very successful, has his own house, is the father to an adorable 2-year-old son. He called me about 2 minutes after leaving Outback Steakhouse to tell me what a great time he had and how he can't wait to see me again (I think we're going to hang out tomorrow).

In short, this is the kind of guy who, once upon a time, would have sent me into a tizzy. (His only drawback is that he is very recently seperated, waiting for the divorce to be finalized, but since his ex cheated on him multiple times, I'm not too worried about him still being hung up on her.) Anyway, back in the day, I would have come home and called the world and announced that this time, for REAL, I found my Prince Charming. And now I just feel...indifferent, I guess. That's not really even the word. Numb, perhaps? Guarded? The best way I can explain it is this: those of you have known me for a while know that for a long time, I had a wall up. And I finally got to the point where I could let it down and welcome love, ACCEPT love, believe that I DESERVED love.

Well, we see where THAT got me.

LOL, I feel like freakin' Desperado. I'm out riding fences (whatever that means).

Will I see him again? Sure. Will anything come of it? Who knows. All I know is, there's no point in getting too involved because it just comes to an end. And this guy, especially. Hell, he has his head on straight. He has a son. He has a career. What the hell would he want with a nutjob like me? If *I* were dating, and had a child, and met a guy who was bipolar, would I be willing to let him into our lives? If it was hard enough before to let people in and see the real me, how the hell can I do so now? I mean, yes, there are those of you in my life who loved me before the diagnosis and who still love me afterwards. But what about the people who never knew me "before"?

Sure, right NOW this guy thinks that I'm freakin' awesome. Not to sound cocky or conceited, but they ALL do at first. =-) That's kind of my thing. It's only after they've been around for a while that they see the "other me." The Dark Side, so to speak. And who knows, maybe there won't BE the Dark Side now that I'm being treated. But....I still have to TELL him. Eventually. And I've never had to do that before. And it's really, really scary. 'Cuz what if I open myself up to a guy and then he rejects me because of it?

So that's my deal lately. I'll date a perfectly nice guy and then just stop calling him after a few dates because I don't want to get to the point where I have to tell him.


Thursday, September 13, 2007

I have good news coming out of my ass

GN #1: Blue Streak gets AWESOME gas mileage. He was just over half full when I got him--and now, almost a week later, he's just UNDER half full. A whole week of driving! I know! (And yes, they didn't give him to me with a full tank of gas. The guy drove it down to the station to put in 8 gallons or so but come on--it's KIA, not Mercedes.) ;)

GN #2: I'm off today and tomorrow for Rosh Hashana. A 4-day weekend--sweet. I love Jewish people.

GN #3: I'm down another 3 pounds, for a total of 5 so far. I'm now at a weight (146) I haven't been in over a year that wasn't flu- or heartbreak-induced. 6 more pounds, baby! If this keeps up I should be there by my 31st, easily.

GN #4: Yesterday was a pretty big day. It was the official one-month mark since I quit this last time. I haven't made it a month in....well, a while. And I'm still going strong. I needed the gum pretty heavily that first couple of weeks, but it hit me the other day that I haven't needed it in a while. I still carry it around with me, though. Just in case.

There's a funny story with this, though. Yesterday after work, I went out with 2 guy teachers, M. and C. When M. asked how the quitting was going, I realized that that day was my 1-month, and I told them so. "And I've only slipped a couple times in the whole month!" I proudly told them.

They looked at each other. "So you HAVE smoked in the last month?" M. asked with an evil glint in his eye. I could tell that these boys, aka The Brothers I Never Wanted, were about to bust my balls.

"Well, yeah," I said. "But I only had, like, 2 cigarettes. In a MONTH. Normally, I would have smoked 500 in that time."

"So you haven't QUIT," said C. "You're just smoking LESS."

"Oh, please!" I defended myself. "2 cigarettes does not a smoker make. From 500 to 2?? I'm doing AWESOME. Plus, my online support group says that it's okay, even normal, to have a slip. That doesn't count."

They looked at each other. "So..." said C. "I could cheat on my wife"--note: C. is single-- "and I could say, 'But it was just one time! It doesn't count! And baby, I'm doing it a lot less than I was! Isn't that great??' "

The boys are both snickering now.

"AND," added M., "even if you DID, you could just go online to your support group and they'd say, 'Hey! Don't beat yourself up! It was just a slip!' "

By this point, of course, the guys were laughing their asses off. They thought they were hysterical. I just crossed my arms and silently stared at them--it was the "teacher stare" that I've mastered this last month.

M. caught my eye and suddenly stopped laughing. "Sorry, Jen," he mumbled. "You're right. Congratulations."

Ha! The teacher stare even works on OTHER TEACHERS!

(It WAS funny, though.)

And finally, GN #5: When you put #3 and #4 together, I have actually lost 5 pounds WHILE quitting smoking! (Soon to be 10 pounds!) Whoo hoo!!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

9/11: A Teacher's Perspective

This is my 2nd year as a teacher. Last year, I was a middle school teacher. Although those kids were pretty young on 9/11, they are old enough to know exactly what happened on that fateful day.

My current 5th graders, though, did not.

I've never had to EXPLAIN 9/11 before. Most kids knew that "a lot of people died" that day, or that "the Trade Center fell," or even that "we were attacked." But they didn't know why, or by whom.

As their social studies teacher, I had a special activity today. But first (as I found out during my first class) we had to talk about that day, and why it was such a "big deal". I was walking a thin line. I didn't want to say too much and scare the heck out of them; I couldn't inadvertantly editorialize or put too much of my opinion in it. In short, I couldn't say anything that might come back to bite me in the ass. I had to stick to the facts--and I had to break down those facts so a 10-year-old could understand.

So I told them what happened--about the first plane, the second plane and the third plane all hitting their targets. I talked about how the fourth plane, Flight 93, realized what was happening through phone calls back home and decided to stand up and fight. I talked about how that plane crashed but it crashed in a field instead of their target, which could have been the White House or the Capital Building, and that's why we call those people heroes.

Then I talked about WHY we were talking about 9/11. I tried to make them understand that this is one of the most, if not THE most, historical event of their personal lifetimes. I said, "You know how we're going to study different battles and wars throughout history in this class? Well, a hundred years from now, kids will be learning about 9/11--and YOU lived through it." That seemed to catch their attention. I tried to make them see the importance of it on a larger scale.

THEN, once I had thoroughly depressed the hell out of them, I said, "When I say the word 'hero,' what word do YOU think of?" We brainstormed a list on the board. Each class came up with a great list, too. They had everything from policemen to parents to teachers to greater concepts like "hope" and "inspiration" and "role model." Next, I let them know that they had to think of someone (or a group of people, like policemen) that THEY thought was a hero. They were going to write a letter to the Miss K. Hero Hall of Fame explaining who their hero was and why they should be inducted into the Hall of Fame (aka my bulletin board in the hall).

I told them, "We're ending class this way for a very important reason. As important as it is to remember the events of 9/11, I don't want to focus on the negative. I don't want to focus on the sadness and heartbreak and fear of that day. I don't want to focus on the handful of bad people out there. I want to focus on the good in the world, on all the wonderful, brave, loving, heroic people in the world. And trust me, there's a lot more of them." I thought it was very important, especially after our conversation, which was pretty grown-up for them, to end on the GOOD.

Every class, as I talked about that day, was silent. They were riveted. They asked really good questions. When one kid said "My mom said that they attacked us because of their religion" and another student said, "Man, that's a messed-up religion," I jumped on that as what we teachers refer to as a "teachable moment."

"NO," I told them. "That's the thing. Their religion, the Islamic religion, is NOT bad. Most Muslims don't have those beliefs and were just as horrified on that day as everyone else. This group, the terrorists, they were just crazy. And they got the teachings of that religion all mixed up. They took it too far. But no, that's not how the religion is." (In the middle of that, I had to stop and explain what 'horrified' means. Seriously, their vocabulary blows.)

The whole day, in each class, was like that. They asked great questions. (They asked if the hijackers died and I said yes, they knew they were going to die but they did it because they hated America so much that they were willing to die for their cause. That, of course, brought up the inevitable "Why do they hate us?" question, which led to the whole "religion" comment earlier.) They made the kind of simple, heartfelt observations that only a child can make. They ate it up. They truly were like little sponges. At the end of each class, I actually heard the "awwwwwwwwwwwwwws" when I said it was time to leave.

Today, those kids were really LEARNING.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Overheard in a particular fifth-grade classroom

Student 1 (looking at a sentence written on the board): "What's a gazelle?"

Student 2: "Dude, don't you know? They run really fast. Like a cantalope."

Try keeping a straight face upon hearing THAT.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Some stock pictures

Picture this in a dark metallic blue and you have my car.

Oh, and some random cool features: 6 airbags, including side-curtain; electronic tire pressure monitoring system (haven't figured out how to work it yet, though); an MP-3 plug to play my iPod through the car stereo; heated mirrors (which would matter a lot more if I didn't live in FLORIDA, LOL, but I still thought it was cool); standard CD player and decent stock sound system (remember, this is coming from someone whose last car had a TAPE PLAYER--and a non-working one at that); and one of the best warranties in the biz. Plus, A/C was standard with this model (don't laugh. It's not for a surprising number of cars--which is why I went with the Spectra, actually. I initially looked at the Rio, but by the time I added the air, it would have cost as much as the Spectra anyway--plus, the Spectra had a $1000 higher cash-back offer). Plus, according to user reviews online, the gas mileage is AWESOME.

I know there's more that's cool about this car but I can't remember it all right now--my head is still spinning. =-)
I'll be damned....

I actually did it.

I bought a new car today.

And not just "new-to-me," either. NEW. 2007 Kia Spectra, deep ocean blue. (I'll take pictures with the camera phone tomorrow.)

I'm almost 31 and this is my first-ever brand-new car. The monthly payments are a bit of a nut, but with the (slight) raise at work, the adjustment I made to my health insurance (which means much less coming out of my checks) and keeping up just one or two Pure Romance parties a month, it shouldn't be a problem. And besides, with my beloved '99 Ford Escort JUST under 100,000 miles, it was at the point that I was falling into that putting-more-into-it-than-it's-worth trap. Hell, if I'm shelling out money for a car all the time, it might as well go towards a new one.

I've been thinking about a new car for a good year now but with my credit, I figured it was impossible. Then I heard an ad for a Kia place down in Naples promising they could help anyone, so with a laugh, a healthy dose of skepticism and an evil gleam in my eye ("you just don't KNOW what you're up against, you poor bastards") I drove down today to check it out.

I had done considerable research online last night so I wasn't going in blind, but it was still a nerve-wracking experience. I'm paying more per month than I anticipated, but again, with my credit, that's pretty much a given. My rep, a guy who sounded like he walked off the set of the Sopranos, was a lot of fun. He was an older, balding, heavy-set Mob-like teddy bear who hugged me instead of shaking my hand when the deal was finalized. Ooh, and I did get a $1500 cash back deal which of course went towards my down payment (see how responsible I am?). We won't say how much I got for 'Scort. Let's just say that what little value she had pretty much came from the new tires on her. =-) This didn't stop me, of course, from tearing up a little as I drove away and left her behind. I got her right after Cam's accident. We've been through a lot together. Hell, we came to Florida together. Okay, now I'm getting verklempt again. Shut up.

So....there you have it. My hands are still shaking. I can't believe I did. I drove in the right-hand lane the whole way home, hands at 10 and 2, pulling a Deb and going 65 in a 70, swearing every time a bug hit the windshield. I had to pull over halfway home to figure out how to turn on the lights. =-)

I feel like such a grown-up.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Oh, well, if OSAMA says so....

CAIRO, Egypt - Osama bin Laden appeared for the first time in three years in a video Friday released ahead of the sixth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks, telling Americans they should convert to Islam if they want the war in Iraq to end.

The 30-minute video was obtained by the SITE Institute, a Washington-based group that monitors terrorist messages. American officials said the U.S. government had obtained a copy earlier and intelligence agencies were studying the video to determine whether it was authentic and looking for clues about bin Laden's health.

In the video, a short excerpt of which was broadcast to the Arab world by Al-Jazeera television, bin Laden wears a white robe, a white circular cap and a beige cloak seated behind a table while reading an address to the American people from papers in front of him.

His trimmed beard is shorter than in his last video, in 2004, and is fully black — apparently dyed, since in past videos it was mostly gray. He speaks softly, as he usually does, and has dark bags under his eyes, but his appearance dispelled rumors that he had died.

The footage gives a rare look at the al-Qaida leader, who has likely avoided appearing in videos as a security measure. His emergence comes at a time when terrorism experts believe his terror network is regrouping in the lawless Pakistan-Afghanistan border region.

Bin Laden makes no overt threats and does not directly call for attacks, according to the transcript, which was first posted by ABC News on its Web site.

Instead, he addresses Americans, lecturing them on the failures of their leaders to stop the war in Iraq despite growing public opposition in the U.S.

"There are two solutions to stopping it. One is from our side, and it is to escalate the fighting and killing against you. This is our duty, and our brothers are carrying it out," bin Laden said.
"The second solution is from your side. I invite you to embrace Islam," he said.

One result of that, bin Laden said, would be an end to the Iraq war. He said "warmongering owners of the major corporations" would rush to appease voters who showed they are looking for an alternative, "and this alternative is Islam."

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Note to self:

Don't watch Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? while PMSing, either.

Note to self

Don't watch the video proposals on while PMSing.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Not-so-subtle change of subject

I have a new favorite show: The Academy, on NBC (I think), following a class through the police academy. You get SO sucked into the personal stories that you really root for them to make it through.

Tonight is the first night that I've seen it (hell, maybe it just started tonight, I really don't know). LOVE THIS SHOW.
NOTE: OKAY, I put it back up.

One last point

In that same conversation, he said something about the fact that he "opened up his life" to me and that he doesn't do that very often. I think the main problem here is that he sees that night as something I did TO HIM, as in, "I opened my life to you and you repay me by lying to me and then acting that way." What I WISH and PRAY he'd understand is that this is NOT SOMETHING I DID TO HIM. Sure, he may have experienced the fallout, but during that whole episode, it was not me making a conscious choice to basically turn his life upside down and destroy the whole relationship. He's just the poor bastard who happened to be there. =-) Now I'm NOT saying that anything I do during these times is not my fault--which is why I went on the meds, to take responsibility and take the first step in getting it under control. But he needs to understand that I wasn't maliciously, purposely doing all that. In a way, JEN wasn't there. Was Hurricane Dean particularly pissed off at the Carribean? No. Do tornadoes have a REALLY big problem with Oklahoma and Kansas? Uh-uh. Those places just happened to get in the way of the destructive paths these disasters caused before they eventually ran out steam.

And that's the best way I can put it. =-)

While we were together, he'd often look at me adoringly and say things like "Man, you're just about perfect, you know that?" at which point I'd kind of snort or guffaw. But I do, looking back, see that as a warning sign. It's like he can't accept the UN-perfect me...or that I've fallen from the image HE had of me and that's just not okay... Or something.

OKAY I'M DONE OBSESSING. I promise. Thanks, everyone. We'll move on now. I know I am. ;)

Monday, September 03, 2007

Who Am I?

I just had a rather eye-opening conversation with Dave. In the time since I've gotten back from Michigan, we've been talking pretty regularly--building up our friendship, I thought. We haven't hung out other than lunch at Mickey D's one day--because he's been "so busy," he said. Well, today he admitted to me that he wasn't ready to see me again, because of the events of "that night." He just can't get past them, basically. And when I reminded him of all the GOOD times we had, whether it was the Keys or Vegas or just sitting around his house, drinking wine, playing cards and watching the Sopranos, he said, "Yeah, well, you're not that person anymore."

At which point I dissolved into tears.

I guess that's the part about all of this that bothers me the most. All my life, I've been a certain person. This person has been a lot of things, from pretty damn funny to very serious to incredibly sweet and loving to flighty and undependable to incredibly exasperating to wildly unpredictable to absolutely terrifying to be around. And for almost half my life, I've been repeatedly diagnosed with BD--and, as you all know, I just couldn't do anything about it until recently. I couldn't admit, even to myself, that I might be "crazy" (which is how I STILL look at it). And do you know that he still feels that I "lied to him" by not telling him about these past diagnoses?

And once I DID get to that point--you know why I finally sought help? To stay ME. To stay the Jen whom most people knew and loved, the me that most people saw, the me who I was about 95% of the time. I'm on medication to be able to FIND myself again, instead of the Jen that people saw "that night". I got help because I wanted to be that "me" as much as I possibly could be, and to reduce the amount of time that I was the out-of-control Jen.

And to hear someone whom I loved so much, whom I used to be so close to, basically erase everything we had and say that I was no longer the same person because of this diagnosis--well, that cut pretty deeply.

It makes me wonder, frankly, why I'm getting help at all, why I'm on the meds. If the people who knew me before insist on hanging onto that 3-hour segment of time, if THAT'S how they define me, rather than all that truly wonderful time that came before it....then what is it all for?

This is not in any way to make him the bad guy. I know that that night was absolutely horrible for him. I know that he's STILL dealing with the emotional fallout. However, for the most part, his life is back to normal. I'm the one who is still picking up the pieces, each and every day. Twice a day, when I have to take my pills, I'm reminded of WHY I'm taking them, of the destruction I had to cause before I got to the point of seeking help. I carry that around with me all the time, every minute of every day. I hate myself for having let myself get to that point before I sought help. And I wish I could have done it sooner--I truly do--but I just COULDN'T. It just makes me feel like he doesn't understand ANYTHING about this disease or the strength it's taken me YEARS to build up before I could get to the point of admitting I had this and seeking help.

One of the reasons so many people resist going on drugs is because they don't want to lose themselves. Good or bad, right or wrong, BD plays a HUGE role in your personality--not just the crazy, out-of-control, "psycho" times, but the good ones, too--the ones where you're even MORE outgoing, MORE social, the "life of the party," very funny and fun to be around...that's part of it, too. And as anyone who's been around me for more than 5 minutes knows, I pride myself on being sarcastic and, I like to think, humorous. I LOVE to make people laugh. And yes, when I went on the meds, I thought--will I LOSE that? Will that part of my personality be erased as these meds "stablize" me?

But I've been on them now long enough to know that, thank God, that part of my personality wasn't the BD talking--that was ME. That's who I am. For the first time, I KNOW who I am. I AM funny, and sarcastic, and loving, and sensitive--and guess what? I still have a short temper! Yes, that's right--I'm not perfect!! *gasp* The meds don't eliminate ALL my flaws....but they do keep them under control.

And for someone to take 5 months of good and reduce it to "you're not that same person anymore"--well, it just shows me that not only do they not know this disease, but they don't know ME.

PS--I know Dave sometimes reads this blog so I don't want anyone slamming him on here (that's what email's for, ha ha), but please call me out if I AM being unreasonable. Because the way HE makes it sound, his friends all think he's a saint for NOT having me arrested that night and they're shocked that he even still lowers himself to speaking to me. Am I expecting too much, or should someone who loves you unconditionally do just that--with no "limits" on the friendship? Am I asking too much to expect more than just a "friendship at arm's length" kind of thing? I say that I deserve more than that; he says I'm lucky to have that much. What do you think? All I know is that lately, talking to him has been upsetting me even more, because I feel so unimportant in his life. Am I dealing with everything okay? Yeah, I think so. I'm kicking ass, actually. But I also deserve to have people around me who love me no matter what and who will still be there for me completely, just not from afar.

Or maybe not.

Saturday, September 01, 2007

NOTE: This post will make a lot more sense if you read the post below this one first.

The first few lines of my book....

....would go something like this:


Sitting in my psychiatrist’s office, it began to sink in. I was single, 30—and, as of five seconds ago, diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

There are, I’ve since learned, many common, typical reactions to the initial diagnosis. Thoughts like: How will this affect my job—and, for that matter, my health insurance? How do I tell my friend and family (DO I tell them at all?!)? Will I have to be admitted to a mental hospital? Do I need to be on medication for the rest of my life?

Not me, though. No, for me, the first thing to float through my mind as tears welled up in my eyes was, Like dating wasn’t hard enough before. Wasn’t I approaching the age where you had a better chance of being killed by a terrorist than you did of finding a successful romantic relationship? And now I was adding “mental illness” into the equation? Hell, I might as well save myself the trouble and invest in several bright-colored, multi-patterned moo-moos and begin buying cat food in bulk (for me, not for any actual cats)?"

And then I'd go on to talk about some version of my post below.

Obviously, a lot of this book is on hold for a while, since I'm just beginning the DWB (Dating With Bipolar) process. I hope, of course, that this book has a happy ending. I hope that I DO find someone out there, so I can show that YES, you CAN find happiness with bipolar disorder, that you CAN find someone who will love you, warts and all.

Possible chapters include the first couple of dates; when do you tell him and how; how to survive the first "episode" of the relationship; possible triggers this new relationship could bring (fights, jealousy, etc); sex with bipolar disorder ("No, you can't give him some of your lithium to make it extra great"); and then, of course, engagement and all that.

OH!!!! THE SEQUEL COULD BE "Planning a Wedding with BD." LOL. The subtitle could be: "Everyone knows that planning a wedding makes you crazy. But what do you do when you start out that way?"


Anyway, first things first. What do we think? BE HONEST. If it's a horrible idea (or a horrible beginning), it's better to tell me now.

On a somewhat unrelated note: I'm considering writing a book about dating with bipolar. Or is this just another one of the "great ideas" that I get during my up times, such as the stripper pole in my living room? (I do practice on it myself still, but I've officially cancelled the 'party' business. What the hell was I thinking? And along those same lines, does anyone want 10 feather boas?)

I will say that I had a racing- thoughts situation as I lay in bed last night--it was like, I could actually SEE the thoughts going around and around in my bed, like an arrow--and I caught myself speaking a little too quickly a couple of times today....I don't know what that means, if it means I'm on the brink of some kind manic thing, if I can stop it by myself by just laying low and avoiding other triggers, if I'm supposed to go in somewhere...I don't want to call my doctor 'cuz it's the holiday weekend and I don't know if she'd even get the message any time soon.

But let me tell you about this book thing because I'm really excited about it. I've been thinking about doing something like this since I was diagnosed this last time, but it was today while I was driving around that it started to solidify in my brain. Every book on being diagnosed with bipolar that I've read in the last month or so (and that's a considerable number, let me tell you) has a section or two for your significant other--"how to help your significant other cope with this diagnosis," "how to help your significant other help you," etc. In all the emergency plans, your "significant other" plays a very important role in recognizing early warning signs, helping you see when it's time to seek help, reminding you to keep doctor's appointments and take your pills every day, etc.

Well, that's all good and fine, but what about those of us who don't HAVE a significant other at the time of diagnosis--but would very much like to have one someday in the future? What if your primary romantic worry is not how someone who already (in theory) loves you unconditionally will deal with this diagnosis, but how to find someone who WILL love you unconditionally, even WITH this diagnosis? Who won't automatically label you as "psycho"? Who won't, a few months into it, decide that it's just "too hard" to be with someone like you?

Dating is hard enough. How the hell are you supposed to do it with bipolar disorder?

And that, my friends, is the premise of the book. I even have a title. *I* think it's brilliant. ;) Are you ready?

"A Crazy Little Thing Called Love: Dating with Bipolar Disorder"

(Get it?)
Two pounds, baby!

I lost 2 pounds in my first week (technically, it was more like 6 days). I'm VERY happy with that for two reasons. One, the weight you lose slowly is more likely to stay off in the long run (as opposed to, say, 10 heartbreak pounds in 5 days). Second, I actually went out to dinner (with a drink or two) for a couple of those nights--so to STILL lose 2 pounds shows that I made up for it the rest of the week. And, to top it off: I did it while quitting smoking!

I'm psyched!