Monday, June 25, 2012

Why God Made Gallstones

Because of summer, my birthday, and then my 40th high school reunion, I have been way off course - emotionally and foodally (another common word in Jennyland but infrequently used in the real world).

In fact, things had gotten so off course that I was planning on having a "Come To Jesus meetin'" with myself first thing this morning.  

However, we all know how little self-discipline I have. 

So last night, God tapped me on the shoulder  ---  with a gallbladder attack.  I wasn't able to sleep until nearly 5:00 this morning because of the pain.  My body was telling me to STOP THIS SHIT!

So.  I'm trying to listen to God - and my body.

More later.......

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Why God Made High School Reunions

Tomorrow, I return to part of my past by attending my 40th HIGH SCHOOL REUNION!
Yes, there were high schools back then.....

It's scary because....... well, if you've read any of my past blog posts, you know that high school was not the pretty shiny time of my life like it was on Father Knows Best, Leave It To Beaver, My Three Sons, and Hazel.

These are the negative things I associate with that time in my life:
* Abject terror that my mother was going to die while I was at school.  I used to feign passing out in order to get to go home and check on her.  When that quit working, I became the filterless person that I am today and went and told my high school counselor that I had to go home because my mother was drunk and she might be dying, yada, yada, yada.
* Invisibility.  Everybody knows that I was invisible in high school.  If they didn't know it then because..... well, I was invisible.......  they know it now because I repeatedly say I was.  I had three true friends at my high school - Shawnna, Sara, and Becki.  They were able to see me.  You know, see ME.  I had other peripheral friends that I think sometimes could see through my invisibility cloak but not often.
* Extreme shyness.  And it wasn't shyness born out of introvertedness (I made up that word).  It was shyness born out of the sense of not having anything worthwhile to offer anyone.  Not being worth knowing.
* FEARFEARFEAR!  Fear of sickness, fear of death, fear of loss, fear of throwing up in class, fear of failing, fear of succeeding, fear of people getting mad at me, fear of being alone, fear of being with people.  If you've never experienced generalized anxiety, you won't know what I'm talking about.

This is the only positive thing I associate with that time in my life:
*Salvation through finding Alateens - the 12-Step Program for children of alcoholics.  Through Alateens, I began the process of removing my invisibility cloak.  Joe and Junior and Jan and Russ and Tony and Jane and Sam and Linda all saw ME.   And they helped me learn that I did have some worth.  It took a long time to get there, but Alateens is where it began.

I was about to write that my school career started normal, but on second thought.............
 This is me on my first day of first grade.  I bawled so much that my daddy ended up going to school with me for the whole morning.  (He went to school with me after he told my mom "if Jenny doesn't want to go to school, by God, she doesn't have to!")

But I adjusted through the year, made friends.....

..... and got to have the end-of-school party in my back yard.

But, in 3rd grade, my daddy, my champion/protector/hero, died.  And the doctor told my mom to make herself a high ball to help her sleep.  And my life began to unravel.

Here's my third grade class picture.  I'm the third one from the left on the front row with the crooked bangs and the vacant eyes.  That was the beginning of the development of my invisibility cloak.

By 5th grade, I was so invisible that I can't even tell you who my teacher was.
 In fact, I'm not even sure this was 5th grade.  May have been 6th.  I don't remember who my teacher was that year either.  All I know about this picture is that my mom was too impaired to help me do any school projects - or homework for that matter - and our neighbor Verna Cooke, put specifically into my life by God, found me this costume for my report on Mexico. 

My mother's drinking got worse and worse and I got more and more little/tiny/invisible/worthless.

By high school, I think I was like a video game character who needs more "life".  I think I blinked on and off - very faint and hard to see...

Then, after the summer from Hell (first date, first slobbery kiss, mom's alcoholic convulsions and psychiatric hospitalization), Alateens found me.  Alateens saved me.
I wore pretty pants and sang a song at a talent show with hottie Alan Burke.

 I found a little sparkle.  OK, maybe it was a crush on one of the Alateen guys from Monterey, but it was still a sparkle.  And the reason I said "on one of the Alateen guys from Monterey" was because, well..... I had crushes on them all.

But.... back to the purpose of this post:

I believe God made high school reunions so we could go back and stand up the emotional boogey-men.  I'm not invisible anymore - though that teenage girl is alive and well (and scared) inside of me.   I'm not shy anymore.   I feel like I have something to offer others now.  I am visible.  

Going to this reunion is funnyscaryhilariousinsane because I don't know most of the people.  When you're invisible, your vision becomes very cloudy and you don't see things so well yourself.  Most of the people don't know me.  Out of my true high school friends... Becki is dead, Sara's whereabouts are unknown (though being the social worker/sleuth/nosy person I am, I am just on the verge of finding her), and Shawnna is busy doing something else. 

But, you know what?  These people are just ..... people.  What I'm finding out is that many of them had similar feelings to mine.  But, as a child, I only knew to compare my insides with other people's outsides......  They looked a lot happier than I felt

I'm so grateful to social networking, in particular Facebook, for giving me an avenue to get to know some of the people that I was too scared to know in high school.  Plus, like I keep saying, they couldn't find me BECAUSE I WAS INVISIBLE!  

It's like a second chance.  

I'm looking forward to going to the reunion tomorrow night.  I know that little Jenny will be trying to take control and will probably be doing a lot of whining about stepping out of her comfort zone, but.....

I'll take care of her.


Monday, June 18, 2012

A Blog Full Of Self-Hate

I've been dreading this and putting off my need to write about it.  My visual of little Jenny is that she is somewhere inside of me, sitting cross-legged, arms crossed over her chest, with a sulking, ferocious frown on her face.

Something like a combination of all the following:

And when I, grown-up Jenn,  go over and try to pull her up....... I am met with DEAD weight.  Little Jenny's body seems to melt into the floor and it is nearly impossible to get her back up and moving again.

Since my last post, I have become one year older..... and NINE AND A HALF POUNDS HEAVIER.

There.  I said it.

Now, can we please stop eating???????

I don't want to wallow in this.  I don't want to justify my "letscelebrateturning58inallsortsofhealthywayslikejumpingoffhighdivingboardsandothershitbutletsbalanceoutthegoodthingsbyrepeatedlycrammingourmouthfulltothepointthatwearemiserableandfullofdisgust".  I don't want to analyze all the 'whys' and 'how comes'.  I don't want to look at the fact that I got to 201.5 and BOUNCED BACK up to 211 - repeating a well known and much hated pattern in my life.

I just want to S.T.O.P.   


I'm done with this going backwards.  I've done it.  It's over. 

Tomorrow.  Things are gonna get back on track.

Cut it out, Jenny!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012


Don't take it.

At the risk of sounding like a drug addict (which I'm not), I need to share my Ambien adventure.  Luckily, I haven't had an Ambien adventure like some people have had. 

For anyone who doesn't know, Ambien is a prescription sleeping medication that is considered a sedative-hypnotic. 

Some people have had horrendous side effects while on Ambien - including eating, cooking, driving... doing all sorts of things.... while essentially in a "sleep" hypnotic state and having no memory of it the following day. 

Someone I love who was prescribed Ambien after his divorce decided during the night that he was hungry for hashbrowns, got into his car and drove off - running into eleven parked vehicles before he "woke up" and realized something was wrong.  He drove home and called the police.  After making sure that he was not under the influence of alcohol or street drugs, he got off with eleven tickets. 

That scared me.  And I've heard even worse Ambien horror stories.

One of my doctors called in a prescription for Ambien the night he telephoned me to tell me that my uterine pathology report had come back positive for cancer.  That was two and half years ago.

I was told to take an Ambien on nights that I couldn't fall asleep.  Well, there is a problem with the hypothesis that Ambien helps on "nights you can't fall asleep".  After taking Ambien ONE night, I couldn't fall asleep again without it.  O.N.E.  N.I.G.H.T.

I've taken 10mg of Ambien every single night since the night my doctor prescribed it.  Except for two nights last summer while we were evacuated from Los Alamos because of the Las Conchas Fire.  I ran out of Ambien, went through all sorts of red tape in an attempt to get my prescription refilled in the town I evacuated to, but still had to do without it for two nights - one where I just laid in bed with my eyes wide open, the next where I tried to medicate myself by drinking copious amounts of wine.
That didn't work.

After my friend's hashbrown/parked cars experience, I decided I wanted to stop taking Ambien.  Also, to be honest... I was having little nighttime experiences that were scaring me - having to go back twenty pages from my "dog ear" in whatever novel I was reading because I couldn't remember what I read the night before, thinking I dreamed about writing an email to a friend in Lubbock and freaking out the next day when she responded, having late night phone conversations and not remembering them the following day until reminded by the person I was talking to.  (How many have I possibly had where the person didn't remind me the next day?  Oh my!) 

I talked to one of my doctors about getting off Ambien last Spring.  I knew I had to wait until school was out because I couldn't get to school on time under normal circumstances and it would be much worse if I didn't sleep at night.  My doctor told me that when I was ready, to spend one week alternating between 10mg and 5mg of Ambien, the next week alternating between 5mg and none, then stop taking it totally. 

Well, I'm really bad at following directions so I went down to 5mg for two nights and then last night, I didn't take any Ambien.

I didn't sleep good on the nights I only took 5mg because my body is used to 10mg.  Last night - it went way beyond "not sleeping good".  I laid awake in bed for hours, finally dozing off to awaken  drenched in sweat and freezing.  Repeatedly.  Yucky.  At 3:00am, I woke up scared.  That's the only way I know to describe it - just an intense feeling of free-floating anxiety.

So unfun.

And you know how I like fun.

Thankfully, I was able to stay in bed until 11:30 today.  I seemed to sleep better (and drier) after daylight.

It dawned on my during the night that I was experiencing drug withdrawal symptoms.  Just like a street drug addict in a detox center.  

I start teaching summer school on June 18th.  I've got to get past this point before then.  I have no idea how long it will take for the symptoms to go away or the best way to proceed.  I spent hours on the internet last night where there are all sorts of tales and all sorts of advice.

What seems right to me is to try to sleep tonight again with no Ambien.  If I can't, I'll take 5mg and alternate like the doctor told me to. 

It just seems to me that if I made it through one night without Ambien, I shouldn't go back to taking any.  I want to be able to sleep without any kind of sleep aid. 

This experience has given me more compassion for people with insomnia.  It's miserable to lay in bed all night with your body tired and your brain tired but your eyes open.  It's also given me more compassion for people detoxing from alcohol or drugs.  That's miserable, too.

And it's taught me how something as innocent as wanting to sleep the night you find out you have cancer can turn into something overpowering. 

Ambien.  Don't trust it.

Tired but awake Jenn

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

If You See Me, Will You Just Yell Out My Name??

I live in a fairly small town.  I never know exactly how big it is because, unlike Texas, New Mexico doesn't put population signs up at city limits.*

Therefore, I have to gauge the size of New Mexico towns by the number of franchises and chain stores.  Which may be part of my problem. 

This is how big Los Alamos is:  oneMcDonald'soneSonictwoHolidayInns

You get the picture?

* And I have to mention that Los Alamos is not even a 'town'.  It looks like a town, it smells like a town, it feels like a town - but it's just a county.**  We have no mayor; we have a County Council.  Weird. 

** And to make it even weirder, there are actually two non-towns in the county of Los Alamos.  White Rock is 12 miles away and would be considered a town in any other place, but obviously - we do things differently here in Los Alamos COUNTY.***

*** Just wanted you to know that I'm really enjoying my current use of asterisks.  

Oh.  The purpose of this blog.

Anyway, Los Alamos and White Rock, combined, have five small elementary schools, one middle school, and one high school.  Until this year, I was the school counselor at the largest elementary school (about 440 students). 

I was Mz. Neil.  And, being the attention-seeking princess I am, I loved going to the grocery store, local restaurants, community concerts, and the pool because I heard a chorus of MZ. NEIL!  
MZ. NEIL!  MZ NEIL!  (If I closed my eyes and envisioned the crown on my head, I could nearly feel the adoration of my fans as I walked down the red carpet of life.)

And I especially liked the swimming pool because ---
well, let's face it ---
I need elementary-aged kids at a pool.  I don't like to swim laps.  I don't like water aerobic classes.  I like to turn frontward and backward somersaults while holding my nose, talk to people underwater, dive for stuff, make funny swimming pool hairstyles, and stand on my hands. 

As a fat grownup, ya look like an idiot doing that stuff if you're not surrounded by elementary students. 

For the last year, I have been the school counselor at the middle school.  Boy, has that changed my local status.

Something happens between 6th grade and 7th grade.  I don't really have a scientific theory about what happens but I do know that it manifests, here in Los Alamos, as kids changing from little hugging creatures with big smiles who chant Mz. Neil! Mz. Neil! Mz. Neil! to alien beings who look at me like I've grown bananas out of my ears. 

Summer 2011
Scene:  At the pool.
Me to 6th grade Charlie:  "Hi, Charlie!"
Charlie: "MZ. NEIL! MZ. NEIL! MZ. NEIL!, COME PLAY WITH US" while enthusiastically hugging my waist.

Summer 2012
Scene:  At the pool.
Me to 7th grade Charlie:  "Hi, Charlie!"
Charlie:  Eyes averted and downcast, with quickened pace, jaw clenched, mouth barely open, quietly and begrudgingy breathes out ...."hi".

Now, don't get me wrong.  I LOVE MY JOB AT THE MIDDLE SCHOOL.  It's different though.
I don't get to deal with second grade boys peeing on trees or eating worms.  I don't get to do conflict resolution with third grade girls fighting over a ball or learning the fine art of rumor-making.  I don't get to talk to kindergarteners about wiping their butts.  I don't get to color or play in the doll house. I don't get to be adored.

But, I do get to love on kids who are at a time in their lives when it is natural to feel unlovable.  I get to talk to eighth grade boys about the use of deodorant and the necessity of pulling up their pants.  I get to make pancakes and grilled cheese sandwiches for human becomings who are forever starving.  And I get to continue helping girls refine their art of rumor-making.

But I miss hearing "MZ. NEIL!" ring out over the sound of other voices.  I miss the hugs. 

Mz. Neil

Sunday, June 3, 2012


This morning, I weighed 201.5!  That's the lowest I've weighed in ------- I can't remember the last time.  At least 20 years.

Granted, I weighed six times and only weighed 201.5 four of those times.  I made Nina look at the scale on the 5th and 6th time I got on it and it said 202. 

One of three things had happened: 
1.  I had gained weight in the previous 15 minutes without putting on a strip of clothing or anything in my mouth.
2.  Nina brings bad scale juju. 
3.  I'm really somewhere between 201.5 and 202.

Whatever............ Nina says I really weigh 202 - BUT SHE WASN'T THERE THE FIRST FOUR TIMES I WEIGHED!!!!!

Don't worry.  I don't normally get on the scales six times.  I just couldn't believe my eyes! 

I usually just get on it three times.  ;-)

The other WONDERFUL thing that happened today is that a online site called contacted me about putting my picture on their website!  Rhonda from and her husband have each lost over 100 pounds and created this website as inspiration for other people.  I couldn't believe she emailed me!  I sent her two pictures and a blurb about me and today it's on their site.   Exciting! 

And motivating!

However, today I'm blue.  And I know exactly what it is.  It's that part of me that doesn't like to sit still.  And I don't mean that I like to exercise.  Not THAT kind of not sitting still. 

"Sitting still" meaning not going out and doing things..... staying at home.... what other people call relaxing.....

This morning I went to church then came home and sat.  And laid.  And sat.  And laid.  And read.  And facebooked.  And glued stuff together.  And facebooked.  And laid.  And read.  And petted the dogs.  And read.  And facebooked.  And laid. 


While laying in my backyard swing feeling myself emotionally sinking lower and lower, I envisioned myself as a balloon that gets caught in wind currents.  Sometimes floating north, sometimes floating south, sometimes taking a quick turn to the west......  But when the wind stops blowing,  like a balloon in a still environment, I slowly float to the ground.  To the lowest part of the ground.  Where I inevitably get stuck on a thorny sticker and pop. 

This is a personality trait that I really need to work on.

I could have gone to the pool.  I could have gone to the park.  I could have gone shopping.  I could have called a friend.  But, obviously, I needed a restful day.

I just don't do it good. 

Now, things are looking up and I'm off to Becky's house for a cookout.

Today was a time to work on being alone and not eating my feelings.
Tonight is a time to work on being with people and not eating my feelings.


Love you,

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Summer Is HERE!!!!!

Happy Summer, Everybody!!!

This morning, my weight was 203.  

Here's some pictures comparing last summer to this summer.




THIS SUMMER                                    


 I have so far to go but I'm ecstatic that I'm starting this summer at 203 rather than 244.

Thank you, God, for giving me a supportive network of friends and strangers who cheer me on and motivate me to try to get healthy for the first time in my life.