I actually can’t math.

It appears the common usage of the English language allows for nouns to be used as verbs and adjectives. I think it’s part of the whole “Reduce-Reuse-Recycle” thing, a “green” method of wording (see what I did there?), and to conserve and reuse words rather than using new ones. Or, maybe it’s that people are lazy and used to Twitter. But anyway, as wordy as I am always being accused of being when I write, I actually like it. I use it often. For example, “I can’t adult today” or “I’m not up to adulting” seems to express so much in so few words. And my son, known from now on as LARP Boy (I don’t want to use his real name and he’s very much into LARPing right now), will shorten things even more. For example, when asking him why he is doing something, he will answer, “Because reasons,” and if he can’t quite get out what he’s trying to say, he will simply say, “Words.” These responses don’t give me the information I am looking for, but they do, quite literally, express an answer or an explanation.

Quick note: LARP is Live Action Role Play. It’s a 48 hour event that mixes Dungeons and Dragons and The Walking Dead, but more on that in a future post.

So, now that I’ve set all that up, what I really want to say is, I can’t math. Not “math is hard” or “I struggle with math concepts” or “I am not good at math,” I mean I actually can’t math. See how all encompassing that phrase is? It really works!

I actually looked it up about five years ago and I think I have Dyscalculia. Here’s the definition: A difficulty in learning or comprehending arithmetic, such as difficulty in understanding numbers, learning how to manipulate numbers, and learning facts in mathematics. It is generally seen as a specific developmental disorder. Now, looking back, my life would have turned out so differently if some teacher along the way had seen this and, instead of ridiculing me in front of the class, got me some help. Hindsight and all… I’d spend hours doing work that should not have taken me so long, I’d have to redo work because I spent so much time making all the numbers into drawings it became unreadable, but using art to cope was what I have always done. When I was in early elementary school, I had to write standards for something I did wrong. I don’t remember what it was, but I had to write something like, “I will not ______________ at school anymore” 1,000 times. I wrote it out 300 times at school, and then I wrote it out 500 times at home, and when I got back to school I threw out the pages with the 300 sentences. It seemed perfectly sound judgment to me – because 300 is less than 500, why wouldn’t I keep the one with more sentences. IT NEVER OCCURRED TO ME TO COMBINE THEM. It’s not that I didn’t understand how to combine them, but that concept just didn’t occur to me, UNTIL  someone pointed it out, and it was too late so I had to write them over again.

Here is what trying to math is like for me. Imagine someone is writing a word problem on a dry erase board, but it’s a magic board that automatically erases for you when you are done. Except the board isn’t working correctly, and it’s erasing words so quickly that only two words can be seen at a time. Imagine you also have very poor working memory, so you need to have everything written down to remember it. You are watching the person writing the word problem but words keep disappearing shortly after they’re written, and, at the end, the person says, “Okay, tell me what I just wrote.” And you can’t, it’s gone. Maybe this isn’t a good metaphor. My point is my brain is teflon with numbers. I have to read the same math problem over and over and over, and it just slides off my brain. I look at it, and then I look for it in my brain, and it never stuck so it’s gone, I can’t even think about it. I’m like that with just numbers, too; those people who remember how much something costs so they know if they are paying too much? I’m not those people. In fact, the minute after I’ve looked at how much something costs, I’ve already forgotten it. I can edit a report or an essay or an IEP  – writing is not a problem – but anything with numbers is a problem.

I have avoided going out to restaurants with friends because of my intense anxiety knowing there would be a time to figure out how to split the bill or figure out the tip. Now, of course, there are apps for that (OH THANK HEAVENS FOR THOSE), but I still experience some anxiety when I go out to eat. I feel better if LARP Boy is with me, since he’s a math wiz and actually ENJOYS figuring those things out. I’m pretty sure he’s my kid.

Not being able to math dictated what college I went to, because I could not do the math required to apply to certain colleges. It affects me every time my hubby asks me how many miles are on my car, or when I look at my paycheck, or I’m deciding which coupon to use at Joann’s or Macy’s (I just pile them in front of the cashier and ask them to pick). It’s also really embarrassing, to the point of humiliating, sometimes, when my inability to math (or just remember any numbers beyond a handful of ones that remain in my head from years of drilling) becomes apparent in front of others; others, who, obviously, have no problem figuring out how much a shirt costs when it’s 35% percent off and on the half off clearance rack, or others I work with who can quickly discern how many counseling minutes a student gets each week when the minutes are given in a monthly total.

I stopped fighting it a while ago, which might look to some like “giving up,” and perhaps it is. There comes a time you have to give up trying to fit that square peg in a round hole because it’s just never gonna happen. So I use the tools I have (calculator, tip calculator, LARP Boy), and sometimes I even use my self-diagnosed Dyscalculia to explain it, but generally I feel relief at not continuing to expect I can do something that my brain can’t do.

Also, I keep reminding myself, that even though I can’t math, I can words.


Today I’m Tired

Some days, I am tired.

I guess some days everyone is tired, and everyone gets tired some days. But right now, at this moment, I am really, really tired. Not the lack of sleep tired – I’ve experienced that, especially when my kids were little or during one of my bouts of insomnia. Those days upon days upon days catching fistfuls of sleep where I could. Not the illness tired – that’s something usually accompanied by aches and pains or a cough or painful blisters (okay, that was Shingles, and I was really tired during that one!). Not the “I just had two glasses of wine and now I need to lay my head on the table and sleep” tired, because that totally happens to me after two glasses. And it’s not even the Sleep Apnea, because I slept the right amount of hours with an alien-like face-hugging mask blowing on my face. Those are physical tireds, and it’s not that.

It’s a systemic tired. It’s TIRED in all caps. It’s like someone took a few spigots and attached one to my body, one to my mind, and one to my very soul, and drained a bunch of energy fluid out of it. I didn’t even do anything that other people would consider exhausting, like run a marathon (or, in my case, walk up two flights of stairs). I just did my job today. Well, in the morning I did my parent job, and then I did my job job, and I came home and now I’m supposed to do the parent job again, but I’m kinda low on, well, on everything.

I can only be “on” for so many hours of the day. I’m like the opposite of the Energizer Bunny (you know, the one who keeps going and going and going…). I’m more like those cheap rechargeable batteries, the ones you buy because you want to be eco-friendly and they seem like a really good idea at the time, but they lose their charge so quickly they spend half their lives on the charger plugged into the wall. So that’s me, right now, I used up all I had all day, but my day isn’t over, so now I am “plugged into the wall” (actually, laying on the bed napping on and off, but same idea). And Hubby is saying, “I’m sorry you’re so tired” in a way that sounds like, “What on earth is wrong with you and why can’t it be fixed?” Of course that’s my interpretation, or maybe that’s my own voice in my head.

My typical day, from the moment I wake up in the morning, involves taking care of people. Even at my job, where I supervise those who take care of people, I have found that those taking care of people are often the ones who need the most taking care of. Over the past 2-3 years, interns that I supervise have appeared to be needier and more self-centered than I have ever experienced in the past (including as an intern myself). They seem impossible to please, they are moody, they always want more than I can give, they blame everyone else for problems, except when they are blaming themselves to the point of falling apart and believing they are complete failures, they don’t meet deadlines, don’t hear things the first time I tell them, get caught up in interpersonal drama, they whine and complain and always seem “burdened,” and they are always on their phones. In short, all my interns have become teenage girls (I am qualified to say this, since I have been a teenage girl in the past, and I am now raising one myself). When I tell people I run the counseling department at a special education school for Emotionally Disturbed students, these people look at me as Mother Theresa working with lepers. Yes, the students are a challenge, and they take a lot of energy, but most of my work is with the therapists who work directly with the students, and they are exhausting.

Today there were a lot of problems to solve, a lot of personalities to manage, and a lot of emotions to contain. It’s not uncommon for the emotions and trauma of a client to trigger the emotions and trauma of the therapist, and, when that happens, it is my job to help them deal with it and to be the best clinician they can be. However, on a day like today, where every corner I turned I faced drama and feelings and crisis, it took all that I had out of me and, by the time I came home, I had nothing.

Here are the things I would be doing right now if I had the energy to do so:

  1. I would go into the other  room where my son is meeting with his Life Skills Coach and give some feedback on how things have been going (or not going) around here lately.
  2. Make dinner (there’s leftovers so I’m hoping to avoid that, or find some way to make scrambled eggs or cereal and milk sound like I’d been planning it all week).
  3. I would put some laundry away and put away a few other things around here before the housekeepers come tomorrow and do their job of hiding everything so they can clean around the clutter.
  4. Bathe or shower.
  5. Grocery shopping.
  6. Clean the bird cage.
  7. Call my mom, my dad, my in-laws, friends and family that think I have no interest in keeping in touch… (which isn’t true, I want to keep in touch, I just don’t want to talk to anyone, and the longer I wait, the less I want to hear how upset they are I haven’t called).
  8. Look at my to-do list for all the things I know I am forgetting.

But I am not doing any of those things. I am writing though. I seem to have just enough energy to type, and the part of my brain that thinks the kinds of thoughts I would write about never seems to need to be recharged. In fact, that’s the part of me that I wish would run out of energy, or shut off, or slow down, or take a break… Unfortunately it seems that at the rate my body and soul is running out of energy, my the thoughts in my mind are picking up speed. In fact, in a state of complete exhaustion where I am on my bed just a breath away from falling asleep, my mind will be on some kind of crazy supermarket race game, chasing as fast as it can up and down the aisles of my brain, picking up old (should be expired) cans of mistakes and failures, fresh bags of to-do lists, tall boxes of shame, anxiety and panic, and stacking them in the shopping cart like there’s no tomorrow (oh yeah, and maybe a bucket of intense fear that there is no tomorrow, too).  So while my entire being is empty and drained and laying on the bed, my mind, and sometimes my heart, are racing like (you guessed it!) the Energizer Bunny.

I have about half an hour until I have to go pick up my theater daughter from rehearsal at school. I sure hope she’s in the mood for cereal or eggs.







“We are here! We are here!”

“You should write a blog.”

I’m pretty sure I’m one in a million people who have heard this and have done nothing about it. This is my first attempt (and already I see this site provides some minor spell check so I think we will be good here). Best of luck to us both.

My biggest goal is to write. Let me flush that out… to write often. Well, to write often without too much editing (I like editing, it’s a real issue).

So, a little about me… I’m a mom. I have two kids, one is a 17 year old musical theater girl, the other is a 20 year old boy on the spectrum who wants to be a roboticist. I am the clinical director at a special ed school owned and operated by my family. I am introverted and have Social Anxiety Disorder, but I have to adult everyday, and deal with people, so it’s kind of draining.

But enough about me, for now…

This morning on the way to work I passed what looked like a homeless women walking down the street pushing a vertical shopping cart. She was colorful. She was colorful because she was wearing many layers of colorful clothing and had a lot of colorful things in her shopping cart. But, the thing that stood out to me, was the bullhorn. Wearing the strap crosswise against her body she carried a bullhorn on her back. In the few moments my car was passing by I couldn’t help but wonder why she had a bullhorn or what she planned to do with it.

Sometimes I wish I had a bullhorn (okay, I guess we are back to me now). I’ve often referred to myself as the littlest Who in Whoville, shouting to Horton’s non-believing forest-mates, “WE ARE HERE! WE ARE HERE!” I think a bullhorn would have been really useful in that story. I live between two worlds, one of wanting attention and one of not wanting to be noticed. Really I guess there’s no way to be happy, or, I’m always somewhat happy, because I’m always somewhere on the scale of being noticed and being ignored. It’s similar to having Social Anxiety Disorder – I don’t want to feel lonely and isolated, but being around people is scary and exhausting. I’d like to be able to disappear, on purpose, in those moments that I trip over something and everyone turns to stare, or I make a joke that unintentionally offends someone, or I look down at myself at work and see bird poop on my shirt (okay, that last one is not uncommon, since I own a bird). But I’d also like to be noticed, not for those things, but in those moments that I say something incredibly witty, or solve a problem that’s difficult to figure out, or totally rock shaping my eyebrows. So, yeah, I want both to be noticed and ignored.

I guess, ideally, I want an invisibility cloak AND a bullhorn. That would be awesome.