Monday, January 29, 2007

Little Miss Sunshine :)

Have you seen this movie yet? I am so friggin' glad it is getting some of the recognition that it deserves! It just took top honors at the SAG awards. Of course, it was the "darling" of last year's Sundance Festival and some of the actors in it received Golden Globe and Academy Award nominations this year.

Why do I like this movie so much? Besides being incredibly hilarious, it is ultimately about family and being there for one another when you need it most. They are totally dysfunctional---which reminds both my husband and I of our own families, but (just like our own families) they truly care about one another and are "there" for one another. They don't always agree. They don't always understand, but they are present and supportive when they are needed....and that, dear readers, is awesome in both a family and a movie.

It's also kind of cool that the DVD cover is bright, rubber ducky's been snowy and cold for two weeks here in Minnesota, but watching Little Miss Sunshine makes me feel just ducky.....

Friday, January 26, 2007

Beautiful Melancholy

I stumbled upon this quote by someone named Mary Stewart (no relation to Martha) a few days ago and haven't been able to "shake it loose" since:

I reached for sleep and drew it round me like a blanket muffling pain and
thought together in the merciful dark.

It is beautiful, but melancholy to me.....oh, yeah...and just ducky.....

Monday, January 22, 2007

Should we really have to fight for adequate healthcare?

When I was growing up, my mother (a registered nurse) always taught us that the doctor knows best---after all, he/she had 8 years of college plus a residency under their belt. As an adult, I've experienced firsthand the flaw in that theory. Doctors are people....fallible people....people with personalities...with likes and dislikes...they aren't super-human as I once thought. Before you even get to the doctor, you have to buy insurance (otherwise you probably won't be going to the doctor unless it's an emergency...) which isn't cheap. Some jobs don't have their insurance benefits "kick in" until you've been an employee for a certain amount of time. It frustrates me to see prisoners at the Federal prison near the town where I live receive top notch medical treatment at a world famous hospital while some 1st graders at my daughter's school have no insurance whatsoever. I get pretty mad when I dwell on that too long....

Anyways, if you are blessed enough to have insurance, you go to the doctor, but what happens when the doctor is rude or condescending or unwilling to look at the symptoms of the illness from a current perspective. 100 years ago, doctors would sometimes cut your arms and "bleed" out the illness....that would NEVER fly today. That is the "fresh" or current perspective I'm talking about...albeit an exaggerated example. My daughter clearly had a viral infection that was going around the school, but we ended up having a bizarro doctor when we took her in and the lady told her to eat more fiber! I was ticked off. Why can't you just look a doctor in the eye and say "That's ridiculous. You must be smoking crack."?

The mental health field is even "better." Finding a counselor or even a psychologist/psychiatrist that you feel comfortable with is not the easiest task. Sometimes gender plays an issue. Sometimes you want to talk to someone who has similar religious beliefs to those that you have. And psychologists/psychiatrists have different approaches that they take to therapy. Some believe in a very psychodynamic approach where they isolate the patient's therapy---closing out family, etc.....while others want to include at times anyone who is very influential like your spouse, child, parent, etc....Virtually all mental illness is only diagnosed through patient experience and symptoms which adds even more complexity to the situation. At least with cancer you can run blood tests and perform biopsies and know for certain "It's cancer." With mental illness, you don't have that 'luxury'. After much observation, the psych doctor says "I think it's this....or you have symptoms consistent with that...." Certainty in the mental illness field is virtually unheard of. What is thought to be severe depression turns out to be the depression side of manic depression (bipolar disorder)....or what is thought to be OCD is really schizophrenia...the list goes on....

In light of all this uncertainty, you add in a doctor's fallibility and it is a recipe for utter medical chaos. When two doctor's have seen you and they disagree---should we really have to fight for proper care or are we destined to sit back and watch the pissing contest? Why can't I ask for my daughter to have a female counselor and actually have her assigned to a female counselor? Why does she have to be assigned to a male for 2 months---just to see if they are a "fit"---and then put in a request for the female counselor that we asked for to begin with? Why do we have to push doctors (in many cases) to get the result that we need? I know that doctors aren't omniscient/omnipotent. I know they are human...but I'm tired of having to fight for the medical care that my family deserves. Thanks for listening to me rant....tomorrow I'm sure everything will be just ducky again....

Friday, January 19, 2007

Who in the heck is Albert Camus?

Have you ever heard of the saying "Don't walk in front of me, I may not follow. Don't walk behind me, I may not lead. Just walk beside me and be my friend."? It is entirely cheesy and has been embroidered on pillows, printed on plaques and written in greeting cards from here to the moon....but it is ultimately a true statement and was given to us by Albert Camus. However cliche this all may seem on the surface....the story gets better and better the deeper you look...

Albert Camus was an Algerian-French writer who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1957. He was by no means a perfect man---he had his indiscretions, but he also gave us some of the most inspiring and truthful statements that I have ever read. Being the collector of quotations that I am, Albert Camus's quotations rank probably right at the top for me... My favorites include:
  • Nobody realizes that some people expend tremendous energy merely to be normal.
  • Do not wait for the last judgment. It takes place every day.
  • In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.
  • What is a rebel? A person who says no.
  • But in the end, one needs more courage to live than to kill himself.
  • We are all special cases.
  • Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.
  • But what is happiness except the simple harmony between a man and the life he leads?
  • Charm is a way of getting the answer yes without asking a clear question.
  • I would rather live my life as if there is a God and die to find out there isn't, than live my life as if there isn't and die to find out there is.
  • It is normal to give away a little of one's life in order not to lose it all.
  • Man is the only creature that refuses to be what he is.
  • Everyone would like to behave like a pagan, with everyone else behaving like a Christian.
  • After all manner of professors have done their best for us, the place we are to get knowledge is in books. The true university of these days is a collection of books.
  • A man's work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened.
  • Ah, my dear, for anyone who is alone, without God and without a master, the weight of days is dreadful.
  • All great deeds and great thoughts have a ridiculous beginning. Great works are often born on a street corner or in a restaurant's revolving door.
  • You are forgiven for your happiness and your success only if you generously consent to share them.

I could go on and on and list dozens more fantastic quotes from Camus....the ones I have listed though have a special place in my heart. The ones I highlighted are my all-time favorites. I think I like quotations so much because words have such incredible power. The intense emotion and knowledge that can be shared through a few words is mind-boggling. When I am going through a difficult time in my life, I pull out my book of quotations and randomly start flipping pages. After about 15-20 minutes, I always feel a bit more ducky.....

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mental Vacation

Ok, things have been way too serious lately. I'm going to end up with an ulcer....looks like it's time for a mental vacation. Anyone want to help me out? Feel free to join in my game. What is your dream job? Don't put a damper on my fun by saying "I already have my dream job. It's the best job in the whole world...." because that will make me hurl and will ruin the entire mental vacation concept....My dream job is to be the quality assurance person at the Crayola crayon factory. I would love to sit there all day testing the crayons to make sure that they have a consistency of color and to help choose the new crayon names. Do you know they have a Macaroni and Cheese color now? And who didn't use or at least avoid Burnt Sienna when they were growing up? Long gone are the days of red, black and boring...upon pulling out my box of crayons I find Banana Mania, Eggplant, Manatee, Canary, Mountain Meadow, Antique Brass, Cotton Candy and....this is one of the best....Fuzzy Wuzzy Brown....and I am NOT making these up. Go buy a 24 ct. pack of Crayola crayons and you will have the proof in front of you. Are you smiling yet?....or at least internally smirking?....Crayons are fun. They are silly. They are childish, but not immature. They make me feel just ducky....

Monday, January 15, 2007

Sometimes, front row seats just plain suck...

Have you ever watched someone head down a path of self-destruction?....You see what they're doing to themselves and where they are headed and you try and get them to turn around, but they don't listen....they never listen....because you and I never listened when we were on that road.....It is the way of life. We must, unfortunately, learn through our own experience....we have to hit bottom (sometimes repeatedly) before we wake the hell up and realize what we've done to ourselves and the people around us who care about us. Sometimes the bridges we burn can be rebuilt and sometimes they are gone forever....and even though I know all of this, it still bugs the living hell out of me when I plead with someone not to keep going down the path.....but they don't listen and their world falls apart. If three or more smart and trusted people tell you that you are screwing up your life, it warrants at least a minor consideration that you, in fact, might be screwing up your life. But we get in that "You don't know me. You don't understand me." mode where we think that we are so much more in touch with what is really going on and everyone else is deluded. When you take a step back, doesn't it seem a little far fetched that 20 really intelligent, rational people "don't have a clue" about what is "really going on", but that you in your deluded state is somehow "the only one who really knows what is going on"? Seems a bit odd doesn't it?......I know we all have to live our own lives and fight our own battles, but sometimes the front row seats just plain suck......fear not, dear friends.....I will get some sleep and wake up groggy, but everything will be just ducky again.....I just needed a quick moment to vent.....

**In case any family reads this---don't worry...I'm not talking about JD or the girls. I don't want you to be needlessly alarmed.

Saturday, January 13, 2007


I'm not sure why, but for some odd reason it didn't even occur to me that the title of my blog has the same initials as my husband....which I use frequently when I write....however, I like my husband and I like the title, so I'm sticking with my original concept and will deal with any confusion as it may come up.

I'm back home in Minnesota finally. It was a good trip, but I missed my family and my bed. I just don't sleep as well when I'm not in my own bed. I must admit though---it was super nice wearing flip flops and eating outside all week in sunny Florida. I came back to below freezing temps....but I will be heading back to Florida for a week in February to finish out my new software training. It was very sweet but heartbreaking to hear that my youngest daughter was very "mama sick" (her version of missing her mom) all week and waited every night for my phone call. In Tampa I also got to eat at one of my favorite fast food restaurants for the first time in about 10 years.....wait for it....what is it......Chick-fil-a! I know it sounds silly, but they make awesome chicken and we don't have one in Minnesota anywhere close to where I live. It was well worth the wait...We also ate at a beach side restaurant named Frenchy's. It was very "Jimmy Buffet-esque" with vibrant colors, a laid back atmosphere and awesome fresh seafood!

Because I had a hard time sleeping in the hotel, I had the 'opportunity' to watch some TV shows that have received much hype, but that I've never seen before....Scrubs and Sex in the City. I love the movie 'Garden State' which was written, directed and starred Zach Braf who also stars in Scrubs. It was amazing to see how completely different he is in Scrubs. I wouldn't say that I love Scrubs, but it has redeeming qualities and was definitely better than the other shows on at that time of night(a.k.a. way too early morning). Sex in the City turned out to be as raunchy and eye-opening as I thought it would be....but for some bizarre reason---I liked it. GASP!!!!!!!!!!! Don't tell my mother....she would be mortified. It is something that I would never, ever let my children watch, but I could see it becoming one of those guilty pleasures that I secretly watch when the family is out at the dog park, etc. 'Six Feet Under' is another one of those guilty pleasures....I don't watch tons of TV and typically it ends up being something on the Disney Channel because of my youngest daughter, but I have a few shows I like----Ugly Betty and House that are always a sure bet with me.

I was worried about flying. I am 6'0" tall and always feel cramped and claustrophobic on a plane...I was very lucky to only have 1 short, cramped flight though...the other 3 were much better as there was an empty seat between myself and whoever else ended up in my row. As my husband's sister is now a flight attendant, I watched the flight attendants much more closely than I typically would. I never get the fun-loving, happy flight attendants (like she is)....but there were some nice ones on the trip. There was also one FA I had that needs to retire...she was a bit cranky to the passengers---I started giggling at her when she walked up and down the aisle trying to give a bloody mary and a mini bottle of wine to various older couples as she couldn't remember who ordered them. She sat them down in front of one couple and the man looked at the woman and said "I know I'm old, but I still remember that I never ordered this." Finally she started calling out "Did anyone order drinks?" Oh well...maybe she was just having a bad day.

This could end up being a thoroughly boring blog that no one reads let alone enjoys, but I'm going to give the whole thing a shot anyways.....I am who I am.....if it is boring and uneventful to the rest of the world---I'm OK with that. I've worked hard to acccept who I am and where I'm at...if that doesn't entertain others, be it. For me, everything is just ducky.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Imperfect Beginnings

I have little/no idea what I'm doing with this blog. JD is hesitant about my blogging as he doesn't want to see my feelings get hurt. Not everyone out in Cyberland is nice...he knows I sometimes take things too personally. Yet here I am, typing away regardless. This week I am in the Tampa/Clearwater, Florida area on business. I have some extra time on my hands, so I thought this was as good of a time as any to start writing.
Why the title "Just Ducky"? Good question...I have a nice little collection of rubber ducks I keep on my desk at work. When I've been staring at the computer, racking my brain over a problem for far too long, I look at the ducks and everything seems lighter, happier, not so overwhelming. My life has been far too overwhelming in general the past 6 months...
You see, I have two daughters. The youngest was suspected of having Bipolar Disorder when she was 6 years old. By the time she was 8, she had a triple diagnosis of ADHD, Bipolar Disorder and ODD. I'm not one of those mothers that medicate their children and don't parent responsibly.....The child was having 2-3 hour-long rages where she would scream and cry and destroy things and hurt anyone who got in her way. It wasn't her "fault"---she has an illness... or rather 3 of them. She does take medication and does pretty well now. She doesn't have rages anymore---now we just struggle with the mania from time to time.
This fall, my older daughter kind of "wigged out". I don't say that in an uncaring way. If you've experienced a beloved family member having psychiatric issues, then you know what I mean. Anyways, she needed help, so she too was placed into counseling and just recently prescribed medication. Although she doesn't have an official diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder, that's where it looks like it's headed. There is a family history of Bipolar on their biological "father's" side of the family...My husband (JD) is the girls' father...that guy just shares DNA with them. I refer to that guy and his wife as "Fruit Loop and Sugar"....not for any psychiatric reasons, but because it makes me laugh. I, of course, have never referred to them as Fruit Loop and Sugar around the children, but when I'm at work or alone with my husband or writing on this blog (which the kids won't read) then I call them Fruit Loop and Sugar. It makes me giggle just typing those words.....
I am not flippant or callous about my children's situation. I have long been diagnosed with/treated for severe depression. Some days are good. Some days suck. The kids have been "lava lamping" all fall/winter thus far with mania and depression. Medication changes, a hospital visit....have made the past few months interesting. Throw in a new puppy to spice things up more and you get a huge depression cocktail just waiting to be served.....Everyone has issues. These are mine. They could be worse. No one has died. We all love each other. Everything is Just Ducky.