Monthly Archives: August 2009

Back-to-School nights.

What is the combination?  WHAT is the combination?  I don’t remember what the combination was, I haven’t had this locker in over twenty years, why should I remember the combination!?!

I should explain that I’m experiencing my annual “back-to-school” dreams.  Or maybe they’d be considered nightmares.   After all, I’m expected to remember the locker combination from 1988 or I’m supposed to know the code to enter my dorm room dating back to 1995.

I’m late for the first day of school.  Why didn’t my mom wake me up?  Which house is this anyways and to which school am I supposed to be going?

This is another classic part of those dreams.  I don’t remember where I live, what house I’m living in, or what school I’m attending.

Once I do get there, all the teachers and classmates are mixed up, too, though now I can blame Facebook for this aspect of the dreams.  I’ll see an elementary school friend in a high school gym class or I’ll be trying to remember that darn locker combination from sixth grade while standing next to the boy whose locker was near mine for two years in high school.

I never took Spanish!  I nearly failed calculus, why am I being subjected to it again?  Diagramming sentences?  Seriously?

The classes make no sense.  I took years and years of German, I’ll never touch math again if I can help it, and while I find that diagramming sentences did make me a grammar nerd, I could do without actually having to perform that particular task now that I am 33 years old.

Most importantly, I don’t understand why I have these dreams for a week or two every single August.  I haven’t stepped foot inside a classroom in over four years.   I’m not entirely interested in returning to school for a graduate degree or certificate, only because I don’t have a clue what I would want out of it.

While I still fantasize about that masters of fine arts in creative writing or begin to consider the more practical accounting information systems master’s program at a nearby state school, I don’t know that I want to make the effort at this point in my life or that I want to finalize any one direction my life could take.  (After all, I put my eggs all in one basket by quitting my job and pursuing my nursing pre-requisites a few years ago, only to discover that I was still too close to the patient experience to become a nurse.)

Could it be that my subconscious noticed last week while I flipped through the catalog full of continuing education courses offered at our local community college?  Did it notice that beginner Italian class or that Quickbooks series or maybe even the travel writing seminar?  Or perhaps it noticed how much I enjoyed challenging my mind and my beliefs while reading The End of the Affair by Graham Greene, wishing I could discuss with others who felt enlightened by the same novel?

Or maybe it just proves that I experience anxiety in the dream state, too.  I’ve had other recurring dreams, one in particular where I desperately try to return to my childhood home and keep finding obstacles along the way.

Or heck, I don’t know, maybe dreams are just full of crap.

Show and Tell: Bicentennial Baby

Rachel-crib copy

Aww, look at the cute baby Rachel.  Hard to believe that I was ever the size my newborn nieces are now, isn’t it?

Ok, ok.  That’s not what this show-and-tell is about.  It’s that stuffed red-white-and-blue elephant in the corner with “76″ all over the freaking place, made by a family friend upon my birth in April 1976.  Why yes, that makes me a bicentennial baby.  And that makes him (yes, it’s a him) a bicentennial elephant.

That darn elephant has followed me everywhere.  From the first twelve years of my life in a northwest suburb of Chicago, to the next six in a far-reaching suburb west of Milwaukee, to college (go Pointers!) for four years (and one summer), and finally out to Colorado with me eleven years ago.

Sure, the elephant has changed over the years.  No more bow, and the red’s faded, but he’s still with me.

Only recently did I realize that hey, wait, this is an elephant.  The symbol of the Republic…HEY, I’m SO not a Republican!!!

What do YOU have to show-and-tell?

The right stuff.

I feel good.  Not perfect, but so much better than the place I was in two months ago.  It shows around work, too, with a couple people noticing that I seem myself again this week.  No panic attacks every morning when facing a daily deadline, more pleasant to be around in general.  I think my husband would agree to these conclusions as well.

Now that it seems I’m stable on the lowest therapeutic dose of this particular SSRI, the real work can begin.  Even as I was slowly adapting to the medication, my psychiatrist and I worked through some of the basic things that cause me anxiety.  (Though, thanks to the availability of her psychotherapy along with medical management, our health insurance doesn’t cover the appointments until I meet my deductible.  Which SUCKS, but at least my deductible is low.)

Instead of dropping off a new prescription at the pharmacy and expecting it to be ready after a round of grocery shopping, I am to drop it off and come back a couple of days later.  That way, any insurance/pharmacy/physician problems should have been resolved and I should avoid a long wait time like I did back in June.  Seems logical, right?  It didn’t when I was in the depths of that ugly cycle of anxiety then depression, more anxiety, then more depression.

Next up came the issue of balancing writing with my day job.  So many blog posts and story ideas were coming at me as I was undergoing one of the most stressful months of my life.  I was feeling resentful of the day job where my job duties were becoming routine and boring, outside of that obnoxious daily deadline that was causing those awful panic attacks.  This was time I could be spending writing, if I was just sitting at my desk surfing the ‘net.  There were times where I seriously considered just up and leaving in the middle of the day.

Now I am keeping a notepad in my purse everywhere I go, including work.  If an idea hits me in the middle of the day, I write it down quickly.  If I have a little extra time in the work day, I’ll write a bit more to get the full effect when I sit down at my computer later that evening.  Most importantly, I approached my manager to let him know how I was feeling.  That part of the equation is still mostly unresolved, but at least he knows, right?

This isn’t a weekly appointment situation with the doctor because after all, she is a psychiatrist and not a full-time psychotherapist.  Instead it’s about every 3-4 weeks.  It gives me plenty of time to deal with each issue we discuss slowly on my own and come back to report.

I feel like the real Rachel again, someone who isn’t seen often enough.  The medication allows a clear head, free of panic attacks, while still allowing me to cry with joy over seeing the first photos of my mother with my brother’s twin daughters.

Yeah, those tough anxiety issues await me.  Somehow they don’t seem so out of reach to resolve and that is something I never thought would happen a few months ago.

Please eliminate these words from your vocabulary.

Start of rant.

This might come as a surprise to some because I’ve never spoken up before, but I despise the “n” word.  I don’t use it, I don’t want to hear it, and I most certainly don’t want it staring back at me from the sidewalk at my neighborhood bus stop.

Why, WHY, in this day and age is it used?  I don’t care if you heard somewhere that some African-Americans like to call each other the “n” word freely as a term of endearment, it doesn’t give you license to use it.   And to spray paint that on a sidewalk in close proximity to a high school?  Shameful.

Oh, and the “r” word?  Yeah.  Don’t use that either.  It’s old-fashioned and outdated and just plain rude to those who are developmentally challenged – just as the “n” word is.

That also goes for the generalized “those M—ns” phrase I hear so much around Colorado, too.  (And I’m not talking about Mormons, either.  They’d rather you call them LDS, for what it’s worth, though.)  I ache for the children of a woman I highly respect as a former co-worker and as a friend.  They must endure that generalized term at school and around town with some people never giving them the chance to show what nice and smart kids they are.

End of rant.

Dear Brett…

Dear Brett,

So today you decided not to retire after all.  Let’s see…

…You have Packer fans renouncing your greatness.

…You have Viking fans disinterested because of your little problem with the interceptions.

…You have Lion fans wishing it was their team who swayed towards your latest whim.

…You have Bear fans laughing and hoping that all the distraction will destroy the rest of the division, leaving their team at the top of the NFC North in January.

Thank you so much!


One of those Bear fans

Stuck between words and numbers.

(The following was inspired by a tweet by @laradavid.  ”I wonder if I’ll ever write a book. I kind of want to, but also am kind of lazy. Tell me I’m not the only one like that, right?”.)

Ask anyone who has ever known me well at any point in my life.

Ask them what I wanted to be when I grew up (or perhaps when I grow up).

They’d have one answer:  a writer.

And they’d be right.

Writing the Great American Novel became my dream when a short story won acclaim from my fourth grade teacher.  Later, I flirted with the idea of being a sportswriter or a staff writer at Sassy or a comedy writer at Saturday Night Live.

Oh sure, at age ten, I decided I wanted to be a fashion designer; and at thirteen, a meteorologist (a scientist, not the type on television newscasts); and at twenty-seven, a nurse.  Even amongst all those desires, “writer” of some sort still remained my main goal.

So how did I end up an accounting clerk?  Crunching numbers instead of playing with words?  A little bit of laziness and a whole lot of luck upon graduating from college, I suppose.  Whether that was good luck or bad luck, I don’t know.  What I do know is that I feel the “playing with words” part of me slipping further and further away.

I look at what I’ve written here over the past four years.  In the early days, I see a decent writer, maybe not Great American Novel decent, but maybe staff writer at Sassy decent.  In more recent days, I see nothing but a diary of a grown-up angsty teenager.

Something needs to change.  Perhaps it means dusting off the pile of writing exercise books to get back to writing fiction or at least better quality creative non-fiction.  Or maybe it means setting appointments within my busy schedule to write meaningful blog posts.  Or.  or.  or.

I know there’s still a decent writer inside somewhere.  Where did she go?


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