Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Books books books

My Amazon order came! I got a gift certificate for participating in a blog-related market research interview, you see. Then Eric wanted to use up most of it for his Edition Four D&D books, and I said if he got to spend that much money I was spending an equal amount, and he said okay. So I got Local Breads and Seed to Seed and an Ingrid Michaelson CD recommended by a coworker. Local Breads is looking awesome. It concentrates on local specialties in Europe, mainly sourdoughs and whole-grain recipes, and has two and a half chapters on rye; all of which are completely awesome and exactly what I would like to work on with the baking. (Well, aside from making a decent sandwich bread. I made up a recipe I like except I can't get any oven spring so the loaf is too dense and small. I'm still working on it.) And Seed to Seed promises to be very useful. Haven't listened to the CD yet, but I will. I think it's interesting I didn't get any fiction. Granting that I have plenty unread in the library, it's still a change of reading taste for me.

I'm having busy days--another week of crazy clients (four weeks after the last one, and the same week as the full moon--hmm) while people are gone, and lots to do yard-wise. Eric's final project is finished, which relieves us both mightily. Now he's just got PRAXIS this weekend. He starts studying tomorrow. We bought him a book, and looking through the practice tests I think I could do well on the multiple-choice without having looked through the review sections, though probably not on the constructed-answer questions.

I've been working on a nonfiction thing, and I find it's been way too long since I worked on Shoelace. I shall rectify that tomorrow if possible. Also Eric mentioned the other day that he still has to read PV and get me comments and query letter help. I found it charming that he remembered; it's been a while since I asked and he's been very busy since. In the meantime, though, I'm happy letting it lie and working on other things.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

A weekend like all other weekends.

I am down. I was finally recovering from last weekend; this weekend is nothing big, just a finance charge on the credit card for having accidentally selected the wrong bank account with which to pay my bill (does that sound like $40' worth of hassle to you?) and money anxiety in general. I suppose paying taxes doesn't help (though we did get back more than we paid overall, the federal refund was last month and the state/city stuff was last week, so they have more impact). Eric is also behind on his big semester project, which doesn't help either--plus it made us miss Penguicon, which I was looking forward too.

But my seeds are up and I found a pot for my poor cactus for not too much money, and I'm finally finishing two craft projects that have been around a while: a baby dress for Eric's sort-of-sister's baby and Summer Sunrise. I decided I'm going to take down the craft blog; I'm not that interested in devoting time to write about my projects anymore. They're just projects. But the baby dress is cute and has taken a while, and will go off in a box tomorrow, along with low-fat recipes and books in a separate box for James (not that he needs to diet; his doctor suggested it for his cholesterol and also, I'm gathering, because fat in his diet may be causing some of his problems).

And I finally took Summer Sunrise out to finish off (it needs the back done, which I did today, and the quilting and binding) because it's finally gotten warm enough for us to put the down comforter away, and our only alternatives are two twin-size quilts. Last night we pulled out the one, but around 4 AM I got tired of waking up cold and having to wrest it away from Eric and took out the other for me. Summer Sunrise is queen-sized.

I also made cookies and bread and Swiffered and read a lot, and it's been a pretty good weekend really. Anxiety or no. Now if only I can be inspired for this one writing-related thing I have to do. I'd say "or for work," but that's too much to ask. For my birthday my coworkers got me a card that said, "Happy birthday from the smartest people you know," and on the inside, "...You need to get out more." My coworkers are (mostly) very nice people but I felt the inside of the card had an awful lot of truth to it.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008


When I got home last night, I noticed that the half of the driveway trench closest to our neighbors was filled in with dirt. When I got out of my car, one of them was in the back, grilling. We chatted a while, and I asked him about the dirt. "Yes, I did that," he said.

"I'm sorry," I said. "We really do mean to do it, and I know we took a long time--"

"It was great, I have this pile of dirt in the back from when we redid the backyard, and you guys gave me a chance to use it," he said, kindly.

"Well, we'll put grass seed down at least," I said.

"Got that already," he said. "I also had a half a bag left over, so I got to use that as well."

I went inside and teared up. I'm honestly not sure whether I was happy they were so pleasant and understanding or guilty that we had driven them to such efforts.

Later I snapped at Eric for one of his annoying pleasantries, which turned out to be due to his mishearing what I had said (though I don't doubt he would have said something similar no matter what) and started crying uncontrollably. It had to happen. I'm doing better today. Also, I'm looking up places to find dirt.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Ironically, resenting one's mother-in-law is extremely conventional.

When I'm at work--or generally with people who are not my close friends--I tend to pretend that I'm more conventional than I am: that I care about cars, makeup, celebrity gossip (I do care about work gossip). I smile, I make small talk, I laugh at dumb jokes, I stay quiet about my true thoughts and interests. I was thinking last week that perhaps that time had come to stop doing that, and start being more fearlessly myself.

But perhaps I was wrong. Yesterday Eric and I went over to his mom's so that we could visit and he could work on a video he has to do for school which isn't working on anybody's computer but his mom's. When we arrived, she was complaining about something that was wrong with her computer, so Eric naturally said he would take a look at it before starting on his work. Time went on, and his mom said something about it; he said, "I don't want to be working on this, I want to be doing my homework!" and went back to trying to figure it out. She went away. Not long after, she came back and said, "I didn't ask you to work on my problem. You shouldn't have offered if you were going to be that way about it. I didn't like your tone, and I'm tired of your rudeness."

He was surprised, since he hadn't directed it at her specifically, just meant to vent some irritation at the problem itself. He apologized, and she said again that he had been rude. Eventually she wandered away and fell asleep on the couch; he sat at the computer, upset and unable to work, and we decided to go home.

At home, he threw himself on the bed and I tried to talk to him about this, telling him that he shouldn't take it personally, that his mom had been having frustrations all day (she'd told us about them) and she was just blowing off steam. In the middle of the conversation, she called him. She started out asking why he had gone home, and whether he had finished his video. When he answered, she started a long monologue. I couldn't hear most of her words, just her tone; but in the middle she got louder and Eric sat up, and I could hear her say, "You know what it is? It's your haughty, arrogant, holier-than-thou attitude. The two of you think that you're perfect and the rest of us are constantly wrong. You criticize how Addie's being brought up, you criticize me for watching TV and getting text messaging, nobody can do anything right except for you two. It's not just me who thinks so, but I'm the only one who will say anything about it, and I'm sick of it."

She went on and on, Eric trying to interrupt, trying to say "I'm sorry," and being overriden. Finally she told him he should come over and finish his homework, and hung up.

"I guess it wasn't just her letting off steam," Eric said, and started crying.

He didn't know what she meant by most of the things she said, and neither did I--except that I know that we both (Eric especially) certainly do have opinions on things the mothers do, as well as everything else in the world, and we talk about them. So do the mothers. Essentially, Eric said, the rest of the conversation was saying that he was an arrogant, worthless human being, and the time had come for her to tell him so.

He sank into a depressive stupor. He's been clinically depressed before, and we've been thinking it's probably coming on again, especially with the stress of the past several months. Some things he said, then and later, confirmed it: that while in this catatonia he was thinking of different ways to kill himself, that if he were going to kill himself for being worthless--and since his own mother had told him he was, it must be true--he would have to hurt me too ("Sure," I said, "Otherwise, I wouldn't let you go through with it," but he said that wasn't it, it was:) just in case I happened to be carrying his child because he wouldn't want his genes passed on. That he would never actually do it because whenever he was low enough to think of it he never had the energy to carry it out.* One of my tasks today is to find a psychiatrist on our insurance plan. Eventually I got him to sleep.

*(This is why suicidal people first taking antidepressants have to be watched. The drugs give them energy before they lighten the depression itself. Finally, my psych degree comes in handy.)

Two hours later he woke, still wildly unhappy but at least able to move and talk; we had dinner and talked about what we were going to do about his mother. We toyed with the idea of never talking to her again (which had its appeal), of pretending it never happened (which didn't), of asking Edith for any suggestions, since we didn't know how serious Brenda was about what she had said or what she wanted us to do. Finally we decided we would stay away for the next couple of days, then ask Edith what she thought would be best.

(My God, this has gotten long. It's going to be much longer. Well, this is what happens when I no longer use my notebook as a regular journal.)

Not long after, of course, Brenda called. She wanted to come over. Eric agreed. She sobbed in the entryway that she didn't want to fight, though Eric hadn't been fighting and I hadn't entered the issue at all except as accused by her; then she complained that she wanted to sit but didn't want to take her shoes off (as is our rule in the house), so I told her just to walk into the living room in her shoes. "Yeah, but I just walked over in the mud," she said as she crossed the carpeted floor.

She said she knew she was overly sensitive sometimes, but we were so arrogant and cynical, and she was bothered by it. I asked what she wanted us to do differently, and she said she didn't. She and Eric discussed it, and went on a great number of tangents, and it emerged that she didn't exactly want us to change our behavior, she just wanted to tell us that she didn't like it. She couldn't explain what made us so arrogant except that we didn’t seem to like the same things she did, that most people do: that whenever we say we do things differently, that means we think we're better than her. The Addie thing was completely made up, as was the "it's not just me but I'm the only one who will say anything" bit.

"What can we do to prevent this from happening again in another six months?" I asked her, when she asked what I thought and why I was being so quiet.

"Nothing," she said.

She dragged me over for a hug, and joked at me, and asked why I gave her an inscrutable look sometimes and complained that it unnerved her. The inscrutable look is what I wear when I'm annoyed by her (or whomever) but don't want to say so. I will continue to use it. I will try not to spend much time with her. As a friend of mine (to whom I ranted about this this morning) said, I wouldn't want to be arrogant and critical. I will try to be less myself around her.

And until Eric gets sufficient help, I will try to get him to be less himself around her, too. She knows he's had problems with depression before and that he's under a lot of stress now. She doesn't believe in psychiatrists, though he's seen one in the past with excellent results; he mentioned I was going to find one for him, and she didn't actually tell him it would be useless but expounded on how there was no such thing as a good psychiatrist. (She knows I was a psych major too.)

He's feeling much better, now that they've talked. He says that when it happens next, Edith and I are to simply force them into a room together until they talk. We both know it will probably happen again. If she felt justified in attacking him this time, she'll surely feel justified in doing it some other time. He's going over today to work on his video, but I think this soon after this incident they'll be safe.

Now that he's feeling better, I'm free to feel worse, and I am. The I'd-have-to-hurt-you-too thing didn't faze me at the time, but I'm disturbed by it now. (Not that I don't think I could take him. As he frequently points out, I've taken kickboxing and fencing and I stretch daily and exercise semi-regularly, and his exercise consists of pacing in front of a blackboard all day.) I don't want to go through this again. I probably will, sometime in our lives; but I'd prefer it be for a different reason. And I still don't know how much truth there was to her accusations. Maybe I do need to continue keeping myself to myself.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Not even a year and already I'm psychoanalyzing him.

I did a bunch of work in the yard this weekend. I feel better for it, even though my back was twinging a bit last night. Apparently I really did get older; that never happened before.

Mom sent me two outfits--both rather lower-cut than I'm comfortable with--and a big black handbag, which is, she said, to replace the dreadfully old and out-of-fashion one I own. Said old and out-of-fashion purse is as sturdy and useful as ever, and considerably more reasonable-sized than the new one, at least until I become a mom, so it's not getting thrown out but I will use the new one. Eric didn't get me anything. "Your present from me isn't here yet," he said. "It's on its way?" I said, brightening because I hadn't expected him to have ordered anything. "Well, no," he said.

I then explained that while I don't necessarily need more stuff--an offer to cook dinner or vacuum (which is my job) would have been just as much or more appreciated than a book or a CD--it would have been nice to believe that he thought about me when I was not immediately before him. I would say, "Not even a year of marriage and already he's forgetting my birthday," but the thing is, he didn't forget; he just didn't do anything about it, even though he knew he ought to and voiced an intention to. He had a rough weekend, though, so I didn't push it as much as I would have liked to. There's also the question of whether his overall mood and outlook these days--i.e., possible depression or possible overmedication--is affecting his ability to get things done. He's been sliding on his homework, but then he always does that, so I don't know.

The next few days may bring that to a test, as I'm going to Pennsylvania for a training class. I'm using my new handbag to take on the plane with me. I'm in my usual "What did I forget to pack?" mode, which is normal and therefore not worrisome. This will not exactly be a vacation, but woohoo for something different!

Friday, April 04, 2008


Now the crazy clients have brought in the lawyers. "It's not technically breaking confidentiality if you send this information to a third party..."

Also the coworkers have got the fever. My one coworker asked me to do a couple of routine things for a client this morning. Fine; I did them, sent them to the client who had requested them, and copied the coworker to let him know it was done. "That won't work," wrote Mr. Coworker. "Here, look at this instead." Attached was a file that explained clearly what he wanted--which was nonroutine, though certainly not undoable, and which I had had no indication of before. Here's a hint, Mr. Coworker: you get faster results from me if you tell me what you want BEFORE I do it. With this revolutionary method which may not have occurred to you, not only do I get it right the first time, but there's no delay before I start my second attempt because I'm ignoring your message most of the day in order to get a grip on my temper.

I got home later than I liked because of this do-over, and spoiled my dinner with oranges and chocolate-chip cookies. I've got cinnamon roll dough rising in the kitchen--my yeast came, and my precious 3 lb. of organic pumpernickel flour, though that's not in this batch of dough--for my birthday breakfast. This weekend I shall garden and bake and write and goof off--and turn twenty-eight.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Insert generic quasibelievable story here.

I hate April Fool's Day. I hate going around for an entire day being unable to trust what anyone says. This must be what paranoid schizophrenics feel like.