Tag Archives: weddings

Does this insomnia make me look fat?

My son is getting married next weekend. This makes me so happy. Mostly because I absolutely love the woman he’s engaged to and they’re perfect for each other, but also because being the mother of the groom is way less work than it was being the mother of the bride. Pretty much all I have to do is show up. Well, that and dig out old pictures of my son, because what is a wedding without the parents embarrassing the bride and groom? I’ll scatter a few of them throughout this post. Spread the joy.

He was such a happy baby.

He was such a happy baby.

So, of course, my main concern has been trying to lose a bit of weight before some maniac with a camera tries to get within shooting distance of my personal space. Have I mentioned how much I hate having my picture taken? I’ve hated it all my life, even when I was oblivious of judgments. People hear this and invariably say some version of, “But you look good!” That has nothing to do with it. It’s a visceral aversion. I remember running away from my own father when he tried to make a home movie when I was a child. And my father was not a scary guy. Well, unless you tried to date one of his four daughters, I guess.

My parents and my children. See? Not scary at all.

My parents and my children. See? Not scary at all.

As an aside to those of you who might be interested in calorie tracker things, I recently discovered MyFitnessPal and I love it. It has been helpful and a real eye-opener to write down every single thing I eat each day, to see exactly what those foods contain in terms of calories, carbs, fat, protein, sugar, sodium. Plus, it’s free.

A boy and his best friend... until his sister came along.

A boy and his best friend, Baxter… until his sister came along.

But I digress. This isn’t a post about weight or even about torture-by-camera. It’s about sleep. Okay, it’s also about how sleep, or lack thereof, affects weight and my ability to snarl politely.

Ahem.

First of all, you should know that I’m pretty much nocturnal. I am certainly capable of waking up before noon, but I won’t be happy about it and probably I won’t be fully functional at that time of day. On the other hand, it’s no big deal at all for me to stay up all night writing. It’s just easier to focus when the rest of the world is dark and quiet.

The three of them were inseparable.

The three of them were inseparable.

My ideal schedule would be to go to sleep between 2 and 4 AM and sleep for eight hours and wake up between 10 AM and noon. Never mind that if you admit to sleeping until noon, people assume you’re being lazy. No, I’m getting eight hours of sleep.

The trouble is, I got into a routine earlier this year when I couldn’t fall asleep, no matter what time of day, or night, it was. And when I did sleep, it was only for a couple hours and then once I woke up I couldn’t fall back to sleep. Serious insomnia. It was horrible. It’s also a direct result of being deeply immersed in writing a story. My body gets tired, but my brain won’t shut down enough to sleep. It’s not the first time this has happened, but this time was lasting a lot longer than it ever had before.

Long-term lack of sleep makes me snarly and crazy. I’m normally pretty even-tempered and have a very long fuse. It takes a LOT to make me angry. Unless I’m sleep deprived.

Yes, I tried all the usual “strategies” for easing into sleep, although I drew the line at warm milk. That’s just disgusting. Nothing worked. And I refuse to resort to sleeping pills.

The beach has always been his favourite place.

The beach has always been his favourite place.

Then my daughter mentioned that her husband the MD was having similar trouble sleeping during a stretch of weeks working the night shift. What he found that helped was taking melatonin. I was surprised because he’s even more opposed than I am to taking medicine — I know, irony, the doctor doesn’t want to be medicated — and this sounded to me an awful lot like taking sleeping pills. But my daughter said no, it’s just giving your body a natural substance that it probably isn’t producing enough of. So you could sleep.

I was skeptical. But I was also desperate. Experts claim that a good night’s sleep is critical to all sorts of things, including losing weight. Never mind that, I was starting to growl at inanimate objects that weren’t even cameras.

So I tried it.

The first time, it was 5:30 AM and I’d been tossing and turning for hours before I finally got fed up and took a pill. I’m not sure when, exactly, I fell asleep but I slept soundly and woke up at 3:30 PM and decided maybe melatonin worked a little too well.

The next night, I took it earlier, at maybe 3 AM, feeling like one of the three little pigs going to market earlier to avoid the big bad wolf. And again I slept soundly, waking up once to use the bathroom and then going right back to sleep. And woke up at 3:30 PM.

Sigh. That tactic didn’t work for the pigs either, if I recall correctly.

More sports. More smiles. I'm so lucky my kids like each other.

More sports. More smiles. I’m so lucky my kids like each other.

Don’t get me wrong, it felt awesome to sleep that soundly. It was such a huge relief. But I really did not enjoy waking up in the middle of the afternoon. Even I would categorize that as being a bit lazy.

Well, I’m nothing if not stubborn and I wasn’t ready to admit defeat. Plus, I’d been sleep deprived for weeks and weeks at this point and wasn’t willing to give up the bliss of somnolence, even if it was excessive. So I kept trying, taking it earlier and earlier, hoping once sleep became a regular occurrence rather than a rarity my body would adjust to normal. Well, normal for me. And it did.

I now take the melatonin sometime around midnight and fall asleep around 2 or 4 AM and sleep for eight (or seven, or nine) hours. It’s awesome. And the best part is that it hasn’t negatively affected my ability to write. I was worried about that. I was resigned to never sleeping well, ever again, if it messed with my writing.

So I’m back to feeling well rested and somewhat human again.

Unfortunately, I have not noticed a huge drop in weight as a result and I still want to gruesomely mutilate anyone who points a camera at me, but at least I no longer have the urge to throw a kitchen chair through the bay window every morning before caffeine.

I think this is my favourite picture of them, ever.

I think this is my favourite picture of him, ever.

I’m curious about what will happen if I stop taking it. I seriously doubt it’s habit-forming in a narcotic way, but perhaps it has the potential to become a psychological crutch. I wonder whether my body has adjusted well enough that I no longer need the supplement. I think I’ll hold off on that experiment until after the wedding. No need to test my capacity for sleep-deprived civility.

What about the rest of you? Are you nocturnal? Have you had similar trouble sleeping? Got any tried-and-true tips for conquering insomnia? What about tips on how to smile convincingly when it is the absolute last thing you want to do in that moment?

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Filed under health and well-being, parenting

So, I’ve been busy…

I guess I’ve taken another unintentional hiatus from blogging. I’ve been kind of pre-occupied, with all sorts of stuff. A couple months during which there has been too much to talk about, rather than too little. None of it particularly interesting or blog-worthy.

Well, there was my daughter’s wedding at the Botanical Garden in New Orleans’ City Park. It was perfect. The setting was impeccable, the weather was gorgeous (important, as the wedding was outside), the groom was handsome, the bride was beautiful, the food and drink were plentiful, the event staff were flawless and the band was spectacular. Much fun was had. But the memory that will stay with me, long after all the small details have faded, is how overwhelmingly happy my daughter and her husband were that day. Both of them practically glowed with it. In fact, toward the end of the evening when people were taking their leave, my new son-in-law hugged my mother and said, “Your granddaughter makes me so happy.” May it always be so.

I know, you all want to see pictures. *sigh* I asked my daughter whether I could share any pictures of her and her groom and she pretty much said, “Mom, don’t be weird.” Sorry about that. But I did make a little slideshow of the pics she told me I could share. One of my sisters took these pics and a few of them have been cropped or, um, otherwise altered. By me. To protect the innocent.

(slideshow here, for those of you reading feeds who maybe can’t see it)

 

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And then, two days after the wedding, since they’d had their epic seven-week honeymoon hiking in New Zealand before the wedding, they drove up here to collect their dog and cat and just hang out for a while. “A while” being two weeks. Which was very nice. Distracting as hell, but so very nice. And then they went back to New Orleans, but not before somehow managing to convince me to keep The Intruder Cat. Perhaps indefinitely. Because allergies have worsened. So there were a few bittersweet moments about that.

And then I was sick for about a week with the feverish head cold from hell.

And then it took me a couple weeks to get all the voices out of my head. There were people at the wedding I hadn’t seen in years and it was overwhelming trying to catch up in the short time frame. Also, my son-in-law has a HUGE extended family in New Orleans and, oddly enough, they all wanted to meet me. Which meant I had to talk to them too. Every single one of them. Some of them more than once. Luckily, all of them were friendly and welcoming and genuinely nice. Many of them were outrageously funny and jokingly flirtatious, two of my favourite things. So it’s not like seeing everyone was a hardship, far from it. But still. I’m an introvert and it drained me. It took me a while to get all those lovely engaging voices out of my head so I could hear my characters again.

And then my MacBook started acting up. Well, it is almost six years old. It had been showing signs of age for a while: things were slow to load or the browser would stop responding, it froze up and had to be re-started if I did too many things at once, the battery didn’t hold a charge and the darn thing overheated constantly. But then it got really scary. Several times when I opened it, the screen failed to light up. I’m good, but even I can’t type in complete darkness. And then one night I heard a rather alarming “pop” sound and part of the underside came free from its moorings. There was now a quarter-inch gap where there should have been a smooth seam. I couldn’t get the thing to close up again and duct tape seemed unwise. Inconvenient had just turned into unacceptable.

So then I had to order a new laptop. Macs are pretty straightforward when it comes to options, compared to PCs. Still, there were a few upgrades available and I debated over some of them. Because, money. Once it arrived, I had to decide whether Pages was going to be sufficient as a word processing program (no, not really). And whether I wanted to mess with the latest incarnation of MS Office (not much choice there). So I bought that and d o w n . . . l o a d . . . e d it. And i n . . . s t a l l . . . e d it. Y’know, for a really super fast new computer connected to super fast internet, I was surprised by how long this process still takes.

And THEN, I had to import all my email accounts. I have six of them. I know, that’s ridiculous, but these things happen. Unfortunately, I haven’t been clearing old email off the various servers. I had reasons. Besides, who has time for that? Holy guacamole, was there ever a lot of email stored up. ALL OF IT downloaded and got marked as “new.” *sigh* Live and learn. My usual email routine is to read everything as it comes in and reply to urgent stuff right away. The rest of it I deal with as I have time. Well, I haven’t had a surplus of time lately. Aaaand it’s possible I deleted a few non-urgent emails during this process. Ooops. Hey, you try dealing with tens of thousands of messages marked as “new” and see whether you don’t get a bit testy with that delete button.

ANYWAY.

I’ve been trying to focus on writing and thought progress on the second McIntyre novella (Cameron’s story) was going fairly well. Until I realized that the “witty banter” was actually sounding more like “petty bickering” and I wasn’t sure what the problem was. That’s when I realized the story doesn’t have a strong conflict. Or, really, any conflict. Well, that explained that. You know I’m distracted when I overlook something that basic. So, that’s a simple fix. Sort of. Well, it might be if life would stop throwing other things at me so I could THINK. Meanwhile, I’ve been making substantial progress on one of the stories I’m writing under another name. So that’s good.

And then, I finally decided a couple days ago that I’d better call the HVAC repair people about the upstairs heating and air conditioning units that stopped working (yes, dammit, both of them) . . . um, a while ago. Don’t judge me. I’ve been busy and the weather has been mild. Turns out I have a burned out control panel thingy up in the attic. “You’re lucky the fan motor is fine,” he said, like that was unusual. Also, half of the main 240V electrical shut-off panel in the basement is blown. I believe the term used was “burnt right up.” Of course, the entire upstairs system is now shut down. Because fire hazard, generally, is something to avoid. So the electrician is coming Monday to fix the electrical stuff and the HVAC guy is coming back Tuesday, or maybe Wednesday, who knows, to fix the rest of it. And I thought weddings were expensive.

AND ALSO, my daughter and her husband and the dog and their loaded-to-the-gills rental truck will be here in a couple days, hopefully not too battered and bruised from packing up boxes and loading up furniture. Hopefully still speaking and making each other happy. Adventures in Moving. They’re staying here for several days on their way to Boston — where there is no air conditioning either, so this will be good practice — where they will live for the next three years. I suspect there will be Adventures in Not Crying (on my part) when they leave.

AND NEXT, a week after that, several of my Imaginary Friends are coming into town for a week-long visit, thinly disguised as a writing retreat. You know, in case anyone stops talking long enough to write. This makes me happy. Also, frantic. So I’ve been cleaning ALL THE THINGS, hoping they won’t be horrified and call social services to stage an intervention. I swear, the only time I notice whether my house is clean and somewhat orderly is when I’m about to have company. Clearly, it has been far too long since the last time.

So. That’s what I’ve been up to during the past couple months. Told you it wasn’t all that interesting. What has been going on with you all?

 

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Filed under blogging, parenting, travel, writing

Memory Lane

It’s after midnight and I have to leave the house in just a few scant hours to drive to the airport so I can fly to New Orleans, where my daughter is getting married this weekend. I should be sleeping. But I’m too wound up with last minute preparations and, frankly, too excited to sleep.

It’s hard to believe my little girl is getting married. Then again, it’s entirely believable and welcome and wonderful and something we all have been happily anticipating for a long time. What I can’t believe is that it’s all going to happen just a few days from now.

I’m too distracted and exhausted at the moment to write anything meaningful about the occasion, other than to say all of us are just delighted. But when words fail, sometimes pictures are effective.

One of the charming traditions of weddings these days is to create a video or slideshow of pictures of the bride and groom at various embarrassing stages of their lives and play it during the rehearsal dinner so all their friends and family can laugh at them. So of course we did this.

Digging through old photo albums to find pics was a lot of fun and I thought I’d share a few of the less blackmail-worthy ones. It’s tough to find pics of my daughter that don’t also include my son — they’ve always been best friends — so he’s in several of these as well.

I’m very protective of my children and their privacy and hesitate to post pictures of them online. But I sincerely doubt anyone could identify them from the pics below. Luckily for them.

Hope you enjoy the pics! I’ll be back in a week or so to report on the festivities. Or something.

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Oh, look! I found a couple pics of ME while going through old photo albums. Here I am with all three of my sisters. I’m the demure one on the right with her mouth wide open. I must have been about five years old.

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And this one is me on my birthday when I was . . . 16? Maybe 17? Ready to eat some homemade-from-scratch birthday cake. My mom makes the absolute best cake and frosting I’ve ever eaten. Ever.

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OK, time to close my eyes for a couple hours a few minutes before heading to the airport. I hope I end up sitting next to a handsome single man on the plane who won’t mind if I fall asleep on his shoulder. I’ll even try not to drool.

 

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Filed under just for fun, parenting