Friday, February 29, 2008

three sunny days

Ft. Lauderdale
My favorite spot along my daily walk to the convention center.

I'm back! It's hard to believe that this morning I was in Ft. Lauderdale, sitting by the pool beneath a palm tree in 75 degree sunny weather, with flowers blooming everywhere. And now I'm back in 20 degree Michigan, where my driveway is covered in 4" of icy snow with more on the way.

This is the view from the 12th floor inside the hotel. The rooms went in a rectangle along the outer walls (the yellow stripes are the rooms and the green stripes are the railings). Down below are the various cafes and bars, surrounded by little gardens and fountains. I think it kind of looks like a salad, with lettuce, broccoli, and cherry tomatoes.


Here are a few photos from this morning. I went to the convention one last time for an hour or so, then walked back to the hotel to enjoy the weather before my flight.








I really needed this getaway, short as it was. It was nice to walk around without a coat and feel the sun on my face. Well, brief sun for me. I burn like mad! I have some really attractive freckles now. I got to meet a lot of people whose names I'd only seen in e-mails. And there was lots of drinking - a cocktail hour at the convention, then further drinks at a Brazilian steak house afterwards, followed by nightcaps in the hotel lounge. Last night, we went to an Irish pub across the street, which was more my style. I had pints of Guinness and a big plate of bangers 'n mash - mmmmmm. Really feeds the Irish part of my blood.

Oh! And the Floridians were lamenting that they were having a "cold snap" - which for them means an overnight low of 50. For me, it was positively balmy. During the day, it got up around 74 degrees or so, but on my morning walk to the center I'd see people bundled up in coats or wearing turtlenecks. It even made the headlines of the local news. The weatherman warned people to throw an extra quilt on their beds and bring in their pets. Bring in their pets!

If I'm sent to the convention next year, I'll go a few days early for some touristy fun and beach time. I love the beach.

Now it's back to the Weight Watchers program. I've been slacking a bit in the past month, what with the show and all the fun cast parties, work events, and my three days of drinking and eating in Florida. Luckily, I broke even. I've neither lost or gained, which means I'm still 22 pounds down. Much more to go, so it's back to counting and planning and getting myself on the treadmill. By summer, I'll be in good shape and ready for new clothes!

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

palm trees and warm breezes

Leeds Castle
Leeds Castle, England, 2005.

I'm packed and off to Florida on my business trip! I just trudged through the snow to take out the trash, and icy wind hit me as I went around the corner. I am ready for some sun. Check in later this weekend for photos!

Friday, February 22, 2008

more fun flu details with a surprise ending

The Cast
A week ago tonight we still had two more shows to go. I miss these people!
And don't they look happy here? You'd never know that . . . well, murder was about to take place . . .

My flu marches on. Just when I think that, yes, this is it, there cannot possibly be anything more in my body - WHAM, nature proves me wrong. It's amazing. Today I've had one small container of chicken noodle soup from the cafeteria at work. I'm not a fan of soup, but it tasted heavenly. Then I just had oatmeal, the old-fashioned kind you make on the stove. Yum. Oh, and when I got home from work, I saw a can of peaches in my cupboard. Even though I've been avoiding fruit so as not to upset my stomach, I wanted those peaches like they were some kind of drug. I could barely open the can fast enough.

You may have noticed I've mentioned the word "work" twice. Yes, I was a moron and actually dragged myself into work for a half day. There was a Really Important Hot Project that some Really Important People had to have designed by noon. I didn't talk to anyone, didn't breathe on anyone, tried not to touch anything, and made my co-worker go get the soup for me. He opened my door a crack, handed me the container, and ran away in a blur. I think it's too late, anyway - more people were out with the flu today. It's sweeping through the company.

I must mention that I saw a GREAT movie on DVD today: Little Children. I've been thinking about it all afternoon. It was so well done in every area. Run out and rent it. Now. It was so good that it distracted me from my achey self and drowned out the random gurgling noises coming from my stomach. Yes. That good.

And now, the best for last. The custody hearing was today, the one that decided temporary custody of my nieces until the official hearing happens (after home inspections, research, etc). And . . . my brother was awarded temporary custody! I am so grateful and happy. They will be returned to him on Sunday evening, they will attend their own school and see all their friends again, and his ex-wife will get them every weekend. Basically, the judge ordered that everything be returned to the way it was. I can't give a lot of details, but his ex-wife was in contempt of court for yanking them out of school and taking them to live with her without arranging it with my brother through Friend of the Court. It's one step closer to a hopefully good outcome at the final hearing.

My parents are beside themselves with relief that we got them back. And yes, even though I was
120 miles away, laying on the couch and eating peaches during the hearing, and really had nothing to do with it, I say "we". When one thing happens in our family, it happens to all of us. We are a team. So WE. We got them back.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

flew, flue, flu

Eclipse, February 2008

The eclipse, last night. Not technically a great photo, but check out the cool red colors
as the moon is almost completely in shadow.

I have the stomach flu. I wasn't feeling well all last evening - I felt like there was a heavy brick with sharp edges stuck just below my ribcage. As I stood and watched the eclipse, I thought, "Wow, this is really cool! Wow, I sure don't feel good!" Around 2 a.m. it hit. You know the feeling. Something wakes you up from a deep sleep, some primal knowledge that screams "GET UP! RUN TO THE BATHROOM! I'M NOT SURE WHAT'S GOING TO HAPPEN, BUT IT IS NOT GOOD. GO. GO. GO!" I was speeding as fast as I could, across my attic bedroom, down the stairs, around the corner . . . and yes, it was not good.

So I've been home from work all day today, camped out on the couch with my phone, blackberry, and remotes within reach, just like during a herx. I ache all over, I can't get warm, and I'm in the bathroom A LOT. But I find something strangely comforting in having a "normal" illness. It has shape and form. You know what to expect. How long it'll probably last. Other people understand. "I have the flu," I told my coworkers, via e-mail, and I could almost see them tilting their heads to the side sympathetically, while thinking, "good grief, I hope she didn't give it to me."

Unlike Lyme, there are no hidden surprises. Half of your hair doesn't suddenly fall out. A strange, welty rash doesn't take over your body one day. You don't see double or hallucinate that glowing cat eyeballs are in your pillowcase. It's kind of . . . nice. To feel something other than herx symptoms. To forget about Lyme for a day and have the flu. It's demented, right? I am a dark twisted individual. I can't believe you're still reading this.

But I'm telling you: one day is enough. I want to feel better tomorrow. I'm off to attempt to eat some plain pasta - the first bite I've eaten for 24 hours. Then I'll watch Lost, and go to bed.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

heartbreak academy

Tulips, spring 2007
Tulips in my garden, spring 2007.

Crap. Apparently, in the throes of heartbreak, my grieving inner child is 11. Throes. I love that word. I am totally doing the study questions. I may share my answers. I may not.

(An article from

How to make it through Heartbreak Academy
I was in my first semester of Unilateral Torture 262, a class I’d taken three or four times already, when I stumbled across a concept in a psychology textbook that finally allowed me to learn my lesson and move on. I don’t remember anything else about that book, but I recall one crucial sentence perfectly. “Some patients,” it said, “mistakenly believe that their loneliness is a product of another person’s absence.” I stopped and reread this maybe 10 times, but it still baffled me. I could have sworn that my loneliness was a product of my ex-significant other’s absence. If not, then what on earth was it?

Finally, slowly, over the next several days, weeks, years, the light dawned: My loneliness, and the antidote to it, did not come from the significant others I’d loved and lost. I’d been emotionally isolated before I ever fell in love. Something about certain people helped me lower the drawbridge over the moat that separated me from the world, but in the final analysis, I was the one who’d actually done the trick. The power to bring me out of solitude -- or to push me back into it -- had never belonged to any other person. It was mine and only mine.

This realization is the most important thing you need to get through Heartbreak Academy with minimum effort and maximum positive effect. Realizing that your heartbreak is not a product of the other person’s absence brings the pain into an arena where you can work with it, instead of riveting your attention on some missing lover you may never see again and could never really control.

Your Heartbreak study guide
Each time you find yourself longing for the love that was, asking yourself the following study-guide questions will help you learn the lessons of heartbreak and move on to a relationship that works.

Study question #1: How old do I feel?
Most often, heartbroken people are unknowingly grieving a loss or trauma rooted in childhood or adolescence. That’s because we tend to fall in love with people who remind us of those who cared for us -- even badly -- when we were young and totally vulnerable. We become childlike when we feel securely adored, letting go of all inhibition. The failure of adult relationships is often caused by the dysfunctions we internalized as children, and the devastation we endure when we’re rejected almost always opens ancient wounds, making us feel as bereft as an abandoned little kid.

If you ask yourself how old you feel when you’re in the worst throes of heartbreak, you’ll probably find that a surprisingly low number pops into your head. Whatever the age of your grieving inner child, it’s your job to comfort her, as you would help a toddler or a teen who had lost a parent. Do small, practical, caring things for yourself: Listen to a song that helps you grieve, schedule a play date with your best friend, wrap a soft blanket around yourself and let the tears come. Most important of all, give your childish self the chance to talk. Open your journal or visit your therapist, and let yourself express your anger and anguish in all its irrational, immature glory.

As you do this, you will almost certainly find yourself grieving losses you suffered way back when, as well as the one you’ve just endured. This is good: It means you are finally progressing beyond ways of thinking and acting that didn’t work for you early in your life -- and still aren’t working today. Acknowledging and comforting that younger self is absolutely essential to easing your pain, recovering from your wounds, and finding new sources of healthy love.

Study question #2: What did my lost love help me believe about myself?
Look back on the time when you were falling in love, and you’ll realize that though much (or some) of your time with your lover was fabulous, the relationship made you happy even when the two of you were physically apart. The really potent part of love is that it allows you to carry around beliefs about yourself that make you feel special, desirable, precious, innately good. To graduate from Heartbreak Academy, you have to learn that neither your ex-beloved nor the fact of being in love invested you with these qualities. Your lover couldn’t have seen them in you, even temporarily, if they weren’t part of your essential being.

Make a list of all the things you let yourself believe when you saw yourself mirrored in loving eyes. Write them as facts: I’m fascinating. I’m beautiful. I’m funny. I’m important. Realize that you chose to believe these things in the context of your relationship, and now that the relationship is over, you have another choice: either to reject a loving view of yourself or to believe the truth.

But, you may say, ‘What if these positive things aren’t really true at all? What if the truth is that I’m hopelessly unlovable?’ Well, let me remind you that when you believe you’re an insignificant bird dropping on the sooty gray pavement of life, you feel unspeakably horrible.

On the other hand, when you opt for believing what love once taught you about yourself, the core of your despair is replaced by sweetness, however bitter your subsequent loss. I say, use what works. Self-concept is a self-fulfilling prophecy: When we let ourselves believe that we’re wonderfully attractive, we act wonderfully attractive. By letting yourself believe the most loving things your ex ever said about you, you can get rid of the bathwater but keep the baby, honoring and preserving what was precious in your relationship, while letting go of the pain.

Study question #3: What did my relationship give me permission to do?
Being in love is so intoxicating, that special person so compelling, that lovers often drop some of the obligations and rules that dominated their lives before they met. When you’re in love, you may forget that you don’t usually allow yourself to splurge on perfume, or write poetry, or be wildly sexual, or say no to invitations you’d rather not accept. When your relationship is over, the bleak prospect of going back to the rules can drive you to the brink of despair, making you pine obsessively for your lost love to return and free you again. Eliminate the middleman. Free yourself.

You can start by making another list. This time, write down all the forbidden things you allowed yourself to do when you were madly in love with someone who was madly in love with you. Now give yourself permission to do all those things anyway.

Monday, February 18, 2008

detoxed, unherxed, and on the go

Cemetery in Royal Oak

Cemetery in Royal Oak.

Well, Murder in Green Meadows is done, and you would think I'd have a little more free time. So far it doesn't seem like it. The afterglow wrapped up on Saturday night - a fun party that went to 4:30 a.m. And then Monday found me diving right back into the next show, Run For Your Wife. I am actually acting in that show, my first time onstage in a speaking role. I have six lines, two of which are "Hey!" and "Lovely!" So you might say that I have 1/3 of my lines already memorized. Yes, I'm a quick study.

Here's a synopsis of the play:
Enter John Smith, a London taxi driver. Husband by day, husband by night. Does it matter that his wife he sees during the day just happens to be different from the wife he spends his nights with? Of course not, as long as they don't know about each. But when circumstances (and two nosey policemen) start to unravel the double-life John has been living by, he has to enlist the help of his friend, Stanley, in order to prevent his two wives from ever meeting. What follows is a pure farce. This hilarious romp shows how complicated things can get as the two men keep spinning more ridiculous lies. Identities are mistaken, characters have to pretend to be what they are not, and great fun is had.
I play the reporter; I come onstage, say my lines, snap a photo, and leave. I'll have my camera and external flash with me, and I'm making myself a cool press pass to wear.

I'm also on the script committee, and am co-chairing set dressing. But with my tiny part, I won't need to be at rehearsals very often, and set dressing is only a few Saturdays. And the script committee (a group that chooses next year's plays) will be done in a week or so. I'll keep myself from getting too run down like I did last month.

My herx from hell has finally subsided. Three weeks of fun-filled torture. For me, the most key thing about getting through it is SLEEP, SLEEP, AND THEN MORE SLEEP. If I feel like napping after work, I do it. Going to bed at 7:30 p.m.? Sure. Take a Lunesta, plug in the electric blanket, and pass out. Plus, sleeping is great because it gives me a break from feeling all my symptoms raging. Other things that help are drinking lots of water, continuing to take all my vitamins, and very warm baths with Epsom salts to help draw out the toxic yuckies. Then warm jammies and more sleep. I set up camp on my couch, with quilts, piles of books, magazines, Netflix DVDs, a big glass of water, my phone, and my remotes near me. Beyond that, all you can do is just wait it out and take care of yourself the best you can.

I desperately need a haircut. And to do my nails. And work on my overgrown eyebrows. And give the dogs baths and trim their nails, too. We're all shaggy, hairy, and out of control.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

love bites


A bouquet of roses I bought for my favorite person. Me.

Valentine's Day is a holiday whose only purpose is to make single people feel like crap. So there.

Not that I'm bitter or anything.

Children's Thoughts on Love

"I think you're supposed to get shot with an arrow or something,
but the rest of it isn't supposed to be so painful."
... Manuel, age 8

"Love is the most important thing in the world, but baseball is pretty good too."
...Greg, age 8

"No one is sure why it happens, but I heard it has something to do with
how you smell...that's why perfume and deodorant is so popular."
...Mae, age 9

"One way is to take the girl out to eat. Make sure it's something she likes to eat.
French fries usually works for me."
... Bart, age 9

"Don't do things like have smelly, green sneakers. You might get attention,
but attention ain't the same thing as love."
... Alonzo, age 9 "

When a person gets kissed for the first time, they fall down
and they don't get up for at least an hour."
... Wendy, age 8

"If you want to be loved by somebody who isn't
already in your family, it doesn't hurt to be beautiful."
...Anita, age 8

"I look at kissing like this: Kissing is fine if you like it,
but it's a free country and nobody should be forced to do it."
...Michael, age 8

"Don't say you love somebody and then change your mind ...
Love isn't like picking what movie you want to watch."
... Natalie, age 9

"I'm not rushing into being in love.
I'm finding fourth grade hard enough."
...Regina, age 10

"Love bites. And then it bites more."
...Lisa, age 38

Sunday, February 10, 2008

a little bit of sun

Murphy & Lucy

Murphy (bottom) & Lucy (top), hangin' out on a lazy Sunday morning.

I miss the sun. It's been a long stretch of cloudy, gloomy weather here. I'm always up for a good day of cloudiness - a rainy day here and there, a good snowstorm. I love going into cave mode and spending a day or two all cozy inside with coffee and books and pets. And I really do love winter. But I'm ready for spring. Yesterday it was a "balmy" 35 degrees here, and I went outside to shovel the slush from my driveway, knowing that the 7 degree (-20 windchill) weather today would turn it to ice, the kind where I cling to the side of my house to get from my door to my car without falling to the ground in an icy heap. The sun came out for about 10 minutes, and I stopped shoveling and just stood there with my face to the light, absorbing it all. I find myself dreaming about digging in my garden, spending long days working in the yard, napping under the walnut tree.

Thanks to everyone for the comments, e-mails, or in-person well wishes. So many people know I'm really struggling with this disease right now. When I leave a party early one night and avoid going out for drinks the next, they know something's up! I'm not one to turn down a beer and a slice of pizza with friends.

My parents came down today to see the show and spend the afternoon with me. I had a good talk with them about many things that have been on my mind lately, family things that go back twenty years. I'll save the details for another blog. They were very open and willing to talk about everything and hear my feelings about things, and were able to reassure me. My mom said with tears in her eyes, "What can we do, can we do anything? Anything we can do, say it now and we'll try and do it for you. Anything." Just to have them listen was all I needed. Something changed with me today, mentally. For the better. I'm not sure what it is yet, or what it means. I need a few days to sort it all out, to shape it into something I can use to smooth out all those rough and raging parts that have been with me most of my life. I'll get back to you on that one.

No one can go back and change the past for me, or to heal the pain I thought I was over. I have to figure out how to do that, how to gain closure on my own. It's been so long and I'm still clueless as to how. I've tried anger, I've tried "revenge" by making my life as successful as possible in spite of it all, I've tried ignoring it. I've worked and worked and worked - but maybe I'm working on the wrong things.

Maybe the answer is in me and not in all these external things I'm doing. Maybe it's self-acceptance, being kinder to myself, celebrating everything I fought against and won against as a child, being proud of myself. Giving myself a break. Not taking on other people's negative baggage and incorporating it into my life, letting it weigh me down. Not seeking perfection, with all loose ends tied up all the time. Maybe it's time to sort it out, settle it gently, and move on. Take a deep breath and blow it all away.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

beautiful night

Garden in Snow

My garden in the snow, Wednesday night.

Well, the rain turned to sleet and then snow, the heavy kind that sticks to everything. I just came in from my yard, armed with my camera. It's a gorgeous evening that lifted my spirits.

I'm so tired. I cannot believe how tired I am. I feel like the proverbial truck that hit me has backed up for another go. It's the herx that will not end - two weeks so far, trying to pull me down and tear me apart from the inside out. It comes and goes in its intensity, but it's always there. I wonder what the Igenex test will pick up. It was the perfect time to take it, with all these symptoms flaring.

I can't wait for the phone call from my doctor.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Parkview Cemetery
Entrance to Parkview Cemetery, Livonia.

After a particularly bad day today, I pulled over to have a good cry - it was no longer wise for me to be driving with makeup and tears mushing together in my eyeballs. I happened to be near one of my favorite photography sites in the area, which also happens to be a cemetery entrance. So this is where I ended up. What does it say about me that after I calmed down, I had to dig for my tiny Canon SD1000 Elph and take a photo out of the sunroof? By the way, the light is from a big spotlight and not the sunset - it was raining when I took this.

And now it is still raining, and I'm going to bed.

Monday, February 4, 2008

a bit of calm

hampton court

A garden at Hampton Court Palace, southwest of London, England, May 2005.

Even though I have so many worries weighing me down, today I am grateful:

. . . that our show opened to a GREAT weekend! Thank you cast and crew!

. . . that my bathroom is finally clean and sparkling.

. . . that I am home tonight and not dashing all over the place or at the theater.

. . . that I have clean socks and t-shirts tumbling in the dryer.

. . . for the great new skin products I bought at Target (and what the heck is going on with my skin, anyway? Who has a surge of breakouts at age 38?!).

. . . that the unexplained measuring cup in the hallway I've been stepping over for a week is now in the dishwasher (yes, my house was that messy).

. . . that Sophie & Sadie love their new bones so much that they've been happily gnawing away for hours.

. . . that tomorrow evening I'll have a fabulous sushi dinner with Cliff & Claudia.

. . . that I get to go to bed early tonight on clean sheets!