Once Upon a Fat Girl

Saturday, September 30, 2006

Some people collect stamps...

Nick has a friend named Darian. Darian makes me want to pull my hair out on a very regular basis. Gah. He's so annoying. He has this voice that is completely monotone, totally lacking in inflection, and so nasal that I want to shake him sometimes and tell him to just STOP IT. He just drones on and on in this completely nasal, monotone whine. And he's a total know-it-all. I just heard this conversation in Nick's room.

"Nick you'd better let me play the Playstation now because now because if you don't you muscles will start to exude lactic acid and that hurts and you won't like it at all so you'd better let me play know because if your muscles start to exude lactic acid you'll really hate it..."

The boy actually speaks without punctuation. And at twelve says "exude lactic acid." And his nasal tone is so pronounced...think of Lily Tomlin pretending to be a telephone operator. That bad. Bad enough that it's hard to believe it's his normal tone.

The worst though, the very worst, is that the kid says "ooooooooowwwwwwwwww" without inflection or punctuation...just this drawn out whine...if Nick looks at him funny. I know for experience that the kid is looking for my attention, and is trying to find it by being passive aggressive. (If I don't acknowledge his oooooooowwwww he says it again, a little louder.) You'll find out below why he needs attention.

I think maybe he has Asperger's Syndrom. The very mild form of autism that the school is testing Nick for. I don't think Nick is this annoying, but what do I know? Some other kid's mom might be writing in her blog right now that she knows this boy that makes her insane with annoyance.

So here's the thing. Darian is Nick's first real friend. He spends every weekend at our house from after school Friday until I kick him out to go reintroduce himself to his dad on Sunday afternoon. He's smart as a whip, too. I took him and Nick shopping at a thrift store with me today and told them they could each spend a buck. He only spent a quarter. On a Tom Clancy novel.

Somehow the two of them don't get on each other's nerves. Which is a good thing, because as much as Darian drives me nuts, Nick needs a buddy.

This morning Darian came by our house at 7:45 a.m. I told him Nick was still asleep, and that I'd send Nick over when he woke up. Later that morning, I asked Darian why he came by so early and he said that his dad kicked him out of the house and wouldn't let him back in. Apparently the kid spent all morning sitting by the door of his apartment waiting for Nick to come get him at about 9:30 a.m.

What the fuck is up with that? The kid annoys me, he's not mine...and even I wouldn't leave him sitting on the stoop. If he'd told me he couldn't go home, I would have let him stay. I made sure he knew that. His parents are so messed up. Both drug addicts. Normally, Darian only lives with his dad who, last I knew, was recovering. His mom, who is not recovering, is 'staying' with them for a bit. Sounds bad to me. Darian told me today that his dad is trying hard to kick his mom out, because when they all live together it's bad news.

Just stop a minute and imagine a twelve year old saying something like that with no inflection in his voice, no emotion...just this whiny monotone...heartbreaking.

I'm a bleeding heart liberal and proud of it. When I think about these people, I think...what happened to make them this way? What causes drug addiction? What causes a chain of events that leads to locking your kid out before 8 a.m. in an iffy neighborhood? How did two such fucked up people come together and make a child? Why would the universe stick a child like Darian, with these idiots who clearly can't care for him properly? What will happen to Darian if no one steps up to give him some attention?

So, I adopt another crazy boy and add him to my collection.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

I did not eat ANY Ben and Jerry's today. Because...I'm out. I ate it all yesterday. BUT also because I just didn't need it today. I'm feeling far less stressed out.

I carry my stress in my back and shoulders. Especially my shoulders. And today and yesterday my right shoulder feels like I'm carrying a hundred pound chip on it. You know what I mean? Like a heavy pressure type pain. Ugh. I was at CVS today and bought a one-pack of this thing that you put on a sore muscle and it heats up. It worked like a charm, but the thing looks exactly EXACTLY like a huge maxi pad. I came --><-- this close to accidently wearing that thing with a tank top to Office Depot tonight. Seriously. That would have been embarassing. I spent a good part of today getting to know the program I want to use for Nick's homeschooling. Turns out it's the same program, Compass Learning. After looking it over, I'm starting Nick with 5th grade math and social studies and 6th grade language arts and science. I'm not sure about the science, because Nick has never had much in the way of that subject. We'll just have to jump in and see how it goes. I wanted to start him on sixth grade social science...it was about Hebrew history, but when I started to read it, it seemed like the reading was too advanced for him. Lots of big words that he hasn't been exposed to yet, because he's spent so many years in a program that focuses only on his behavior and not at all on his academics. The fifth grade social studies starts with a unit on Olmec Civilization, and has easier reading assignments.

If I can get him up to grade level (seventh grade) in a year, that would be so fantastic. I'd love for him to start school in Ely at grade level. He's so happy right now that I've agreed to let him be homeschooled. I think I need to do some research about teaching special needs children social skills.

I try hard not to wonder "why me? Why my kid?" It doesn't do any good, and it feels pretty awful to wish that your kid was different or someone else. I believe in karma and that everything happens for a reason. Nick is a difficult, complicated person. I'm his mother because the universe or God or whatever, whoever decides these things, thought I'd be the best mom for him. And that he'd be the best son for me. It's hard not to get sucked into a cycle of wishing things were different, wishing that I had one of those kids that never made a ripple in life. Instead, I have one who does a cannonball-belly flop every time he makes a move. And you know what? Cannonballs can be fun, if you don't fight against them.

Time to start celebrating the kid he is, instead of mourning the kid he's not.

Time to stop trying to fit my cannonball kid into a non-ripple-making mold.

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I've decided that I'm definitely going to give homeschooling Nick a try. It occurred to me last night that his behavior at home during the summer is so much better than it is during the school year. School is such a stressor for him and stress causes his behavior to breakdown.

I found this website and since it has a two week free trial, I signed up. It's similar to Adrienne's charter school, in that everyday there are things to do. It isn't super rigid though, which is a good thing. It's only math, language arts and science. I think Nick will enjoy it. In my heart I want to unschool him, just let him totally lead his education (Adrienne, too.) But, I'm afraid. What if I screw them up by not teaching them what the regular school kids know? What if they turn out to be lazy kids who only want to paint their nails and play video games all day long??? What if....well, you get the picture.

So, we'll start here and see how it goes. I think I'm going to try to buy a family annual pass to the local children's museum. They have an exhibit right now call Dragons and Fairies about Viet Nam that sounds interesting. It'll cost $70 for the five of us. An added bonus is that there's a library attached, so we can catch two birds in one net.

Yesterday I ate three Ben and Jerry's Cherry Garcia ice cream cones. Something has to give, my stress level is too high. I can feel it in my back and shoulders, like big knots of "this is just too much." What has to give is the expectation that we can move this fall, and Nick's school. It's not what I want, but maybe it's what I need. I have to take better care of myself. Why is that so hard? I'm going to take a walk with my kids today. To the park I think. Maybe we'll have a picnic dinner. How fun does that sound? The weather in late September in Las Vegas almost makes up for three months of temperatures the devil would feel at home in. Almost.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Anti-Stagnation Is a Good Thing

We made a difficult decision today. So difficult that, despite feeling better for having made it, I'm so sad that I just want to cry.

We're going to put off moving to Ely until next summer. *Sob*

Waiting will give us the chance to save up a down payment for a house, and pay off a few bills to raise our credit score. Waiting will mean not moving directly into real winter, which the kids and I have never experienced and Kevin has been away from for twenty or so years.

Waiting is right. It feels right, even though...holy Christ, it feels so wrong. I don't want to be here. I don't want to send Nick to the stupid school that he hates for another year. Not for another day. Watching the news tonight, there was a story about a sixth grader who stabbed two classmates on the way home from school. And then another one about the trial of a guy who police had to shoot at a store literally directly across the street from my house. They shot him after he ran after a clerk who escaped. Ran after her, toward my house.

I don't live in a bad neighborhood. Just a pretty basic, middle-class, fairly diverse area. An older part of town (no cookie-cutter, gated-community, Home-owner's-association hell for me, thanks), but still. I don't live in an innercity. This is just Las Vegas. Nice, eh?

I feel better. Less depressed. I can't stand limbo. My solution to a problem is to...well, find a solution. The last month or six weeks have been solution free. Just a jumble of boxes, wondering where we're going to live, boxes, going to duke it out with Nick's school AGAIN, boxes...did I mention the boxes? Everywhere. A sea of cardboard.

I feel better, because we have a plan. I'm the kinda chick that needs a plan. It isn't the plan that I wanted, but it will do. I still get stuck in this mindset that waiting will price us out of the Ely market, too. So, to keep myself balanced on that front I read this blog everyday. The market is correcting. When I look at the listings on my Ely realtor's website, every week more houses are added, and more of the old ones are reduced in price.

Let's have a moment of silence, shall we, for the idea that regular non-investor types like us might again one day have the chance to be homeowners without exotic loans and lying about our income.

Oh...I'm also about 90 percent sure that I'm going to homeschool Nick this year. He said this to me tonight: "Mom, please don't make me go to school tomorrow. I'm going to have a terrible day, and I just can't handle it." It's doubley hard on him, because Adrienne is homeschooled (sort of...she goes to a charter school where she does all her work at home and only goes to school half a day a week.) Ninty percent sure.

Thank you for all the kind emails. I'm okay. I'm better than that, because I'm not stagnant anymore. Whoo!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Bringing it on home

I just got back from Nick's school. For the third time in a week. He isn't doing well. He's just not...functioning. I'm so fucking frustrated, I want to pull my hair out. Seriously. It's that bad.

Last year was maybe the ONLY decent school year Nick has ever had. It was the only year that I didn't pull Nick out of school to homeschool him for at least part of the year, since the third grade. He spent half his day in the autism class, and that worked. He didn't go to PE, and that worked. He was allowed to bring his Gameboy to school and it was used as a reward for doing work, good behavior, etc. That worked.

This year, nothing is working. No more autism class. No more Gameboy. He's in regular PE (I will NEVER understand how they can justify sending a kid who can't function in a regular, calm class to PE with 90 students and one teacher. Gah.) He has a new teacher, no aide at all, new admistration. In other words, he has no continuity. At all.

Did I mention wanting to pull my hair out?

I had what turned into an IEP meeting last Friday, with the dean, Nick's teacher, the special education facilitator, and the school psychologist and her boss. They're going to test Nick to see if he's autistic.


The kid is in the seventh grade. Does someone want to explain to me why WHY WHY he wasn't tested previously? Why someone didn't say, "Hey, let's test him" when he was thriving in the autism classroom last year?

"Well, Mrs. Lamare, who knows. But we're testing him now. We have to look forward, looking back doesn't accomplish anything."

"My name is Mrs. Alburger."


So, I'm back to the homeschool drawing board. He's miserable there. And when I try to explain that to the teacher or the dean or whoever, they say "No he's not."

What the fuck? They're arguing with me? I'm the one who has to force Nick to go to school everyday. I'm the one who has to stop everything to go to the school or talk Nick down on the phone two or three times a week. The kid hates school. He hates being there. He doesn't understand the social rules and he processes information so differently from other people that not only does he not know how to fit in, he doesn't even see the need to.

Any homeschool mom's out there?

A Sad, Sad Story

For some reason this story makes me want to cry. What kind of person would buy a house near a pig farm, and then insist that the pig farmer, who has been there 43 years, move? What's wrong with our world when the only important thing is slapping up five houses an acre and selling it for three times as much as the person buying it can afford--and trying to force out a guy who is actually trying to make a difference in the community?

Do you see why I want out of Las Vegas. It has no soul.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Me and My ADD

Have I ever mentioned that I had ADD? The biggest symptom, for me, is that I can only concentrate on one thing at a time. I get hyperfocused on...oh...writing, or selling vintage clothes, or moving, or losing weight...and then I move on after a while. Lucky for me, I have a list of things that I move around and around, so usually I make some progress (like finishing a novel, for example) before I move on for a while.

Anyway, I'm sorry I haven't written for so long. I'm going to work hard on updating this blog more often. Daily would be great. I feel like my life will pass by without a record, because I'm too disorganized to write a few paragraphs at the end of the day.

So...here's an update:

* My weight is stable. I'm down a couple I guess...about 295. My plan is to go back to writing down everything that I eat again for a while. It isn't that I'm restricting or dieting, it's that I have a habit of eating without even realizing it. Like...I'll suddenly notice the empty pint of Cherry Garcia in my hands and be all "What the hell? Did I eat that??" So, paying attention is a very good thing for me.

* We still haven't found a place in Ely. So my house is about a third packed and I feel very much in limbo. Do I unpack? Do I keep packing? Since I can't decide, I'm doing very little about packing at the moment. One man has offered to rent us his house, but it's not ideal. For one thing, he will only give us a four month lease, and then he's putting the house back on the market (it's been for sale a year) and let us rent month to month. And if we can't find somewhere else or qualify for a loan by the time his house sells? We're up a creek, I guess. And it might not matter much, because he might already have a buyer and will let us know by October 1st for a November 1st move in date.

* I've decided to do NaNoWriMo again. Last year I wrote the first (super crappy) draft of my novel during November, National Novel Writer's Month. It took me 10 months to make it worth reading. So I figure...let's try it again. I'm excited about it! Anyone want to join me? Last year I have a couple of partners and we just emailed each other and verified our word count.

Guess that's all for now. I'll write more tomorrow, I promise.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Power Struggle

We just got our power bill for August. To a tune of more than $700.

WTF??? If we ever get that apartment in Ely, that power bill is 1 1/2 times our rent!

July and June were both under $200. Clearly there is a problem. Part of which is the fact that historically our summer power bills are about $400 and we felt like we hit the lottery in June and July. Kevin called the power company, and they said that they'll send someone out to check our meter in 10 to 15 days. Two weeks? And how will they adjust our bill if the meter is broken? How will they know how much power we used? What a headache.

On the plus side, I weighed myself today and the scale said 295. I was a little shocked. I haven't been the the gym in a good solid month. Maybe six weeks. I meant to start again when school started for Adrienne and Nick, but our second car has been in the shop, so I don't have a car.

I feel very focused again on getting healthy. On eating good foods and taking care of myself. If we can't move until the spring, I plan on being as healthy as possible when we finally get there.

I'm back down to the weight that I was when I got pregnant with Ruby. YEAH!

Friday, September 08, 2006

A Tantrum

Right now I feel as close to depression as I ever get. I don't tend toward depression, so this is an odd and uncomfortable feeling for me.

Looks like we're staying in Las Vegas for at least this school year. We just absolutely can not find a place to live there right now. There is nothing NOTHING for rent. Not even an apartment. Just nothing. We can't qualify for a mortgage to buy a home until we have moved there and have paycheck stubs to prove our income. It's a nasty Catch-22.

I just want to cry. I don't want to be here. I hate feeling trapped, like a fucking prisoner. No matter how hard I try I can't get out of here. *sniff*

God. I hate feeling sorry for myself. I need to pull myself up by my bootstraps and make the best of this. There has to be a best. Somewhere. Right??

Because laying on the floor and kicking my feet, pounding my fists and screaming "it isn't FAIR!" isn't going to get me very far, now is it?

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Have You Ever Had Your Life Just...

Explode? Have you ever just gotten so busy all of a sudden with a thousand different things, that you can't get a handle on any of it.

That's my life right now.

First, we went to Ely and then I went back to take Adrienne to stay with her grandparents. She chickened out. I expected it, but hoped it wouldn't happen. I wanted her to have an adventure. I wanted her to be brave enough. It just didn't happen. As soon as she got the nerve to tell me (after a 4 hour drive) that she wanted to come home with us, she tangibly relaxed. My uptight little girl.

So, we're ready to move. I applied with the school district to be a substitute teacher and a substitute aide. The goal is to be all finger printed and checked out so that when a regular position opens, I can slide in and get some health insurance. Kevin was told by the casino owner that whenever he can get out there, he has a job. A good job.

But--apparently northeastern Nevada controls it's population by not having ANY place for newbies to live. Seriously. We were prepared to move October 1. We can't, because we can not find anywhere to live. This is the most frustrating thing I've dealt with in quite a long time. We tried to buy a house and ran up against a big fat catch-22. To buy a house in Ely using our Vegas income, we have to have the money to prove that we can work here and still maintain a house in Ely. To qualify with what we'd earn in Ely, we have to have paycheck stubs. Which we can't get because we have no where to live.


So we put in an application with the apartment complex. And we left a check with my family out there. Soon as something comes up, we're giving the appropriate notices and we are so out of here. We're packing. We're ready to not be here anymore.

So meantime, I've been trying to find an agent for my novel. No luck. A bunch of form rejections that are fairly soul crushing. And then I get this email:

Congratulations! You are a finalist in the Ticket To Write Contest!

Your manuscript, Devil You Don't, will be mailed this week to Keyren Gerlach, of Harlequin. Winners will be announced October 14th at our annual conference.

Um. Oh. My. God.

A publisher is reading my book. (Okay, the first 30 pages of my book--but DAMN!) I can rewrite my query and say that my book is a finalist. I feel like standing on my roof and screaming "They liked my book! They really liked my book!!!"

Now. I'm not sure that my book is right for Harlequin. I didn't write with them in mind. I didn't follow their formula. But--dude, she's reading it. She's judging it. My book doesn't suck! Oh yeah. YEAH!

So. Best case senario--I get published, get to move to my little mountain town. Maybe into the house I saw this last weekend that has a 50s kitchen with pink metal cabinets and turquoise formica counters--and an entire acre of woods for a backyard. My kids get to transfer from one of the worst school districts in the US to the best school district in Nevada. I'm not big on the No Child Left Behind tests...but if I have a choice I'd rather send my kids to an exemplory school than a "Needs Improvement" school. Wouldn't you?

In the middle of all this, I'm on the verge of binging again. Not full on binges. But I've backslid on my progress toward eating when I'm hungry and not when I'm full. My weight has maintained--so I'm not panicked. I just have SO much going on. And my brain is going back to the food=stress relief way of thinking. Need to get a handle on that. Really.

Man. Life is weird.