Saturday, January 31, 2009

A Dizzy Dame

A long, long time ago, when our oldest was only about three or four years old, I was walking down the sidewalk with her. We went around the corner of a building and there was a lot of broken glass on the ground. Since she was wearing sandals, I was helping her carefully pick her way through so she wouldn't get hurt. This means I was looking down at her feet. As I came around this corner, I ran into the bottom metal base frame of a billboard with my forehead. (Yes, I know it sounds like something you'd chuckle at on "America's Funniest Home Videos", but believe me, laughter never entered my mind.)

First of all, it was like walking into a glass door because I never saw it coming. Second, it HURT. The entire billboard vibrated because I struck it that hard. I remember yelling and putting my hands to my head, trying to make sense of what had just happened to me. I couldn't understand where the pain had originated but I can still remember how badly it hurt.

This morning I had occasion to think of that long ago moment because I rolled over to tell Joseph I would take a shower later and was hit with the worst vertigo I have had in a couple of years. It came out of the blue, just like the encounter with the billboard. I've had the condition for 15 years or so, in varying degrees, from barely noticeable to falling down on the floor to throwing up nonstop and begging for an ambulance--and everything in between. The last really bad episode was about four years ago. It was horrible enough to last a lifetime though.

Having vertigo is like being instantaneously on drugs--without any of the potential highs some drugs offer. It isn't just being dizzy--it is the sensation that gravity is no longer functioning and that you and the world are moving at completely different rhythms. It is instant nausea and shaking. It just ain't fun, baby!

I laid in bed swearing and trying not to throw up. J crawled in behind me and held me tight because he knows that is one thing that helps (it makes you feel anchored to something instead of being in a type of freefall). It passed in seconds, but since then, it has flashed back a dozen times. The bitchy part of it is you never KNOW when it will happen. It stops and so, you forget . . and then you turn your head to see something or look at someone, you bend over to pick something up, you put your head back and close your eyes for a moment and suddenly, it is all back again. It zaps your confidence (I sure as hell am not getting behind a wheel now), screws up the day's plans (so much for exercising on the rebounder--I'd go flying off) and just generally makes you unsure of yourself.

So, yea, today, I am a dizzy dame. I will keep working and try to remember not to move quickly. Sigh. Of course, I will also keep an eye out for lurking billboards, just in case!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

An Orr Update

Well, life here hasn't been terribly exciting, hence the lack of posts.

On the work front, things are just about as dismal as they have been. I have several things in the works, but they haven't come through yet and until they do, I think I will just maintain this mild state of panic I am getting to know well. My ONE assignment for February is up to four. That's an improvement but when 20 plus is the usual, it's still scary. Joseph has been looking for jobs but, as the whole country knows, it ain't easy. There just isn't much out there and everything we call on is either gone or requires experience he just does not have.

On the family front, the kids are good. Nicole has found herself a boyfriend and what a doll he is. He treats her wonderfully and I swear, he must have a great teacher/mother/older sister or something because I have never seen a young man who knows the right things to say more than he does. He is 22 and teaches martial arts to kids of all ages. He doesn't smoke, drink or even swear! Has a car, a job, an apartment . . . gets along with his family. If she doesn't fall in love with this one, I may have to get her some therapy. (grin)

The boys are fine. I think Coryn has hit his teen growth spurt already. He looks taller each time I look his way and he has the shading of a mustache coming in already. Caspian is holding at about 5'9" or so so far and is in the "I'm going in my room and only coming out for bathroom trips and meals" attitude going.

Without a lot of work to do, I don't have much money, but I DO have a lot of free time. I have been catching up on letters and even doing more reading than usual. Just finished The Messenger by Jan Burke, which was fantastic. REALLY liked it. Also The Grift by . . . . someone . . . and it was good as well. I just took out a subscription to Bookmarks magazine which reviews all the new books and I know I will enjoy each issue.

No other real news. If you say prayers, cast runes, read tarot cards or interpret tea leaves, please send a message out that the Orrs would like a little more job security if possible. In the meantime, I will try and relax enough to appreciate the extra time spent with my family.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Times they are A'Changin

I don't know about you, but I am a tad tired of hearing how times are gonna change now that we have a new president. I happen to like Obama, for the most part, but I feel like the country is going a bit overboard about him. I mean, he is a MAN, not a god. He will most likely make some great decisions--and some lousy ones. He will probably be better than Bush, because . . well, hey, the bar is pretty low at the moment. But this concept that he is some kind of savior here to solve all of our problems seems rather exaggerated at best and scary at worst.

I'm all for change though and that's a good thing because we are seeing some pretty big changes at our house right now. I've had several companies I work for lose their funding and what looked like months worth of steady work disappear with a single phone call. My work load has plummeted like I've never, ever seen and yea, it's scary.

However, it also has put a fire under a few things.

For example, I have been reaching out further for work and in the last 48 hours, I have been tentatively hired to write a huge project for a government grant (it will be the biggest project of my career to date), been interviewed by a new company for potential ongoing work and asked to appear on a national radio show. Not bad overall. I wish I could add that I have also won the lottery but since I don't play, that makes it even less likely.

The other big change is that my "pool boy" husband (an ironic title as we don't have a pool) is actively searching for a job for the first time since we came out here. Scary? YEA. Moreso for him than myself. He has been a chiropractor almost his entire adult life so going out into the job market world is more than a little intimidating. Personally, I think that any company lucky enough to get a man this reliable, dependable, intelligent. honest and friendly should count their blessings, but I may be just a shade prejudiced. So, cross your fingers for him. He is looking into a position as a caregiver and I think he would be fantastic in that role. He has taken good care of me for 26 plus years!

So, let's hope that the country is about to experience some positive (yet realistic) changes and along with it, my family as well. I have to admit that after 7 plus years of being the sole bread winner, I am ready to share that burden for a bit. You know you've been working too hard when the idea of spending your day cleaning the house, changing sheets, fixing meals and cleaning out the closet sounds good . . .

Friday, January 16, 2009

My Husband is Channeling my Parents

If you've known me for very long, you know that I came from two wonderful parents who had a bit of an obsession with cleaning. That's putting it mildly. They were insane about cleaning. They spent a day on doorknobs. They vacuumed daily. They polished the copper pipes BEHIND the paneling. See, I mean they took it SERIOUSLY.

Perhaps in response to that, I am not particularly neat. I don't like DIRTY but I don't mind clutter. I tend to collect too many things (purses, Pooh characters, Mary Englebriet, etc.) I'd love for my house to be picked up and neat--I just don't want to be the person responsible for doing it. At one point, I found the PERFECT solution. One my bestest friends on the planet took a job as a cleaning lady and I hired her. It was great. She did the work, I got to spend time with her and she got paid. A real win-win situation. (I just don't understand why she won't do it for me anymore, just because we live 2,200 miles apart!)

So, our house is cluttered. Majorly. The kids do daily chores that keep the carpets fairly vacuumed, laundry hung up and bathrooms relatively presentable but that it where it ends. My poor husband has been saddled with much of the rest, from dishes to laundry. He does a good job of it but recently, he has been a tad unhappy.

He is tired--understandably--of being the only one who clears the kitchen table, picks up the dirty glasses strewn about the house, putting toilet paper ON the holder and generally navigating around everyone else's CRAP. He was raised in a neat home, not neurotically neat like mine, but still neat.

So lately, he has made cleaning a higher priority. Everytime one of us walks by him, he hands us something to put away, throw away or give away. After the fifth time, it gets a little old, lemme tell ya. He gets tired of doing it and we get tired of being given yet another thing to deal with. At this morning's "Family meeting", he repeated his desire for all of us to take more responsibility for cleaning up the clutter around the house. We all reluctantly agreed. Just because he is right doesn't mean we have to like it, correct?!?

So, we are keeping Goodwill well supplied as trash bag after trash bag after box after grocery sack leaves the house full of stuff that we no longer want, no longer wear, no longer like or no longer have any idea where to put it. The house keeps looking better and life with less clutter is nicer.

BUT if he starts scrubbing doorknobs and pulling off paneling in search of copper pipes, Imouttahere.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

An Anniversary

Today marks one year since my mom died. It is hard to believe it has been that long. I think of her every single day and still occasionally reach for the phone to tell her something. I can distinctly remember her telling me the very same thing years ago when her mother died. I can almost imagine a future time when Nicole will remember me telling her the very same thing.

My dear friend Susan suggested that I find a way to celebrate/commemorate this day and she is right. I have been thinking about it on and off for some hours. I finally decided that I want to sit at the kitchen table with the kids and just tell stories about my mom that I remember. I know most of them will be funny and I imagine one or two will make me cry. However, I can think of no better way to honor her memory than to keep it alive and share it with her grandchildren.

Lately, I wanted to call my mom up and tell her that Nicole had yet another disappointing date that went awry. She would sympathize and remind Nicole that you have to go through a lot of toads before you find the prince. I wanted to tell her how, the other day, I was reminded so poignantly of what makes Joseph and I's marriage work. We were getting ready to take a shower (we have a HUGE shower capable of holding 5 or 6 people--on theory, mind you. We haven't tried it yet.) and so I went and got one of his favorite towels and hung it out for him to use. The other towel was still wet from someone else's shower so this way, he wouldn't have to use that one. I smiled as I did it because it was a little way of saying I love you to him. When our shower was over, he got out first. As he left the bathroom, he said, I left the dry towel for you, hon. :) It's like a convoluted version of the Gift of the Maji, right?

I wanted to call this morning and tell her about some of the strange work opportunities that were offered to me by the morning's email. A chance to go on live radio and be interviewed. A chance to author an entire college course on avian flu. (I wrote a book about it.) A chance to write for a project that I detest so much that even in this day of really needing work, I am going to turn it down. Instead, I will go downstairs and tell my hubby and while he will respond with sage advice, genuine interest and honest answers, I will still miss telling my mom.

So, if your mom is still around--even if her opinions don't match yours, if her homeschooling comments bug the crap out of you, if she always manages to comment on the one topic you avoid, if she dislikes your spouse or disapproves of how you raise the kids, EVEN if she keeps trying to give you the clothes that she has lost too much weight to wear anymore, call her/visit her/write her and tell her you love her. Because I promise you this, there WILL come a day when you would trade almost anything you had for the chance to do so.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Be Honest, Now

My darlin friend Susan named me on her blog to participate in this event. Apparently, I am to list 10 true things about me that others may or may not know. This is challenging . . .

(1) I am a purse slut. I adore purses beyond all reason. I rarely give in to the passion but recently I counted my purses and let's just say, I got rid of 37 and have a lot left over.

(2) I cry very, very, very easily. (Yes, Nicole, I know you know this from sitting next to me when I watch television.) I cry at commercials. I cry at tv shows. I cry when soldiers come home and surprise their kids, when people win big on game shows and when people are unexpectedly reunited. You could say it is because I am a sentimental softie, and you wouldn't be wrong, but what irks me no end is that I cannot NOT cry. I don't want to cry. It makes me mad when I do, but I can't stop it. (Nicole points out that I even cry when the dogs in "101 Dalmations" start the barking to let everyone know that the PUPPIES ARE MISSING!)

(3) I love cookie dough with a passion. I would rather have a tube of cookie dough to nibble on for weeks as a dessert than anything else I can think of. I haven't had one in years but I dream about it now and then.

(4) I've been to nudist resorts--and liked it. They are nothing like people think they are and can be the most self-esteem liberating experience of a lifetime.

(5) I still get scared of the dark. If I am downstairs in the dark alone and I have to go up the stairs, I take them two at a time because I am worried about what might be coming up behind me.

(6) I adored the show "Ally McBeal". It is not available on DVD. I have searched. I lost money buying seasons from a shady company that said it was in Canada but was really in China. You can't even see much of it Youtube and I thought they had everything.

(7) I used to cross stitch and I can't anymore because of my eyes and that makes me very sad. I miss it almost as much as if I could no longer read.

(8) I tend to see the world as a wonderful place with a few negative things about it. I see people as kind until they prove otherwise. I expect kindness and try to always hand it out. Yea, this means I've gotten scammed and taken advantage of but that's ok. I like having a positive attitude.

(9) I own jeans in four different sizes. That way I will always have something that fits even when I've gained or lost weight.

(10) I have horrible, terrible baby hunger all the time. I keep imagining if someone would leave a little one on my doorstep . . . I know that another baby would be disasterous. I don't have the time and certainly not the energy but I still long for one every time. I sublimate it by looking and wanting little dogs . . and I know that one day, grandchildren will bless my life, but in the meantime, man, I miss babies.

There. Know me better now? Most likely, if you're reading this, you probably knew each one anyway!

Monday, January 5, 2009

Back to Reality

Well, holiday vacation is over and I have to admit that I loved every second of it. For 10 days, I did very little work. Yea, I wrote a passage and a few bios, but there were ENTIRE DAYS I did not write a single professional word. Instead, I read books (8 of them!), wrote letters, watched movies, hung out with the kids, went Goodwill shopping with family and friends (you know who you are, Susan), got stuck in snowdrifts countless times and even took a nap here and there. It was glorious. The time off was the best gift I could have gotten.

Now, of course, it is back to the "real world". Emails will change from "Merry Christmas" and "Thanks for the card" to "When are you turning this in?" and "We need you to make some changes". It had to happen, of course, but that doesn't mean I have to be ready for it, right? I am hoping to have at least a week back before the first unhappy email comes my way, but we will see.

Although it was an odd Christmas with the weather and money and such, it was also one of the nicest ones. We couldn't go out as much so we stayed home together. We couldn't spend as much so we appreciated everything we were able to give and recieve. I don't think I have ever felt such gratitude for the family I have. That was another gift.

So, a new year begins. I look ahead and I realize that this year: Jasmine turns 25, Nicole 19, Caspian 16 and Coryn 13. (Three teenagers at one time! What was I thinking?) I turn (gulp) 50. Joseph turns 57 next week. In the last month I was asked if I qualified for the senior discount at Goodwill (55) and if Coryn was my GRANDSON. These moments keep me extremely humble.
We will celebrate 27 years together this fall. I will hit 200 books published. It is the first year without my mom and dad. It is our 8th year in Oregon. And most of all, time flies by too quickly, as always.

Here's to a wonderful 2009 for everyone. That's a reality we can all live with.