Tuesday, August 31, 2010

My Husband's Birthday

Last Thursday was my husband's thirty-fifth birthday, and his first in America. I know that it must be tough for him to be separated from his family and friends, but he's become such a special part of our family, and my parents and I were glad to help him celebrate. I look forward to many more birthdays with him.

Monday, August 30, 2010


For the past few nights, I've been having the strangest dreams. In my dreams, Fran and I are still together, but he's still living in Ireland. In some of the dreams, we're married; in others, we're still dating. In some, we're physically together; in others, we're still on two separate continents. But all of these dreams are united by one thing: in all of them, he's breaking up with me. I know this must be a manifestation of my fears of losing him, but that doesn't stop me from awaking with a knot of fear in my chest. And I'm always surprised--and relieved--to find that he's still here.

Cat Escapades, Part 3

Last night, I was lying in bed, watching TV. The cat, Andy, was lying on Fran's side of the bed, while my husband was brushing his teeth and getting ready for bed.

When Fran came into the room, he told the cat to move from his side of the bed. No response. He flipped the blanket over him, to see if that would irritate Andy enough to make him move. Nope. So finally, he picked the cat up, dropped him at the foot of my side of the bed, and told him, "My spot." The cat FLEW back to Fran's pillow before he even had a chance to stick a TOE under the covers!! So Fran repeated the procedure: pick up Andy, put Andy at the foot of the bed, and say, "My spot." This time, he beat Andy, lying down on that side of the bed first.

Well, did it faze the cat? Nope. Without missing a beat, Andy promptly changed direction. He walked up to me, rubbed up against my face, and looked at my husband, as if to say, "Your spot; MY girl."

Friday, August 20, 2010

Personal Space

Last night, I elbowed my husband in the head in my sleep. Upset, I immediately rolled over, apologizing profusely, to see if he was okay.

Then I saw that I was lying at the edge of my side of the bed, while my husband was bent at the waist, so that his legs were on his side of the bed, while his head was right up against mine on the pillow.

Then I didn't feel so badly.

Changes in Lifestyle = Changes in Weight

A couple of years ago, I did the unimaginable: I lost seventy-two pounds in six months. It was a complete lifestyle change for me; I totally revamped my diet and my exercise regimen, and I was rigid in sticking to it. I was so proud of myself for my accomplishment, and I swore that I would never go back to it.

But the changes of the past year have taken me back to square one. Last summer, I gained back thirty pounds. After losing my brother, well-meaning people sent us a lot of comfort food, and after the funeral was over, life still didn't go back to normal. I tried to return to my diet and exercise regimen, but my heart wasn't in it. I was so unhappy all the time, and felt as though I should take the comforts where I could get it, even from food. Also, I wasn't sure why I should work s o hard, and deprive myself so much; after all, my brother deprived himself all his life with the intention of reaping the benefits later in life, and he never did.

It took me until the holidays, and winding up on the bathroom floor during a holiday party, vomiting and crying over my brother, to begin rediscovering my resolve. I decided that my brother wouldn't want me to be living so self-destructively; after all, I'd done so much work on myself since high school, to be well both physically and mentally, and he wouldn't want me to throw that away. The Christmas season is a tough time to begin any dietary changes, so I decided to start afresh in January. And I did. During a three-week stretch of time, I lost ten pounds, and was encouraged.

But that wasn't the end of the changes, or the setbacks. Over the next four months, I became a homeowner and a wife. As a homeowner, I had to learn to balance the needs of my house and pets with my full-time job, while turning my childhood home into my adult home. As a wife, I had to deal with the stress first of having my husband living in another country with a five-hour time difference for the first month; after that, I had the same responsibilities as I did as a homeowner, while learning to cook quick meals to share with a husband who has very different dietary needs than my own. All of this has derailed me even further, so that I have regained the rest of the weight I'd lost.

Now it's time to find my resolve once more. The toughest part is relearning how to do it for myself, and not for others; my husband loves me for who I am, regardless of my weight, but other people, who complimented me when I was thin, have lost no time in pointing out my recent weight gain. It's hard not to want to lose the weight again to make the criticisms stop and the compliments return. And when I go back to work, it will be tough to decide to cram any more into an already full day, even if it's just an extra half hour; combined with a seven-hour workday and over three hours of commute time, it seems especially daunting. But most of all, I have to figure out what will make me HAPPY; is it the temporary, superficial comfort of sweets, or the satisfaction (and energy) that comes with a healthy lifestyle. And of course, the ever-existing question: what do my choices say about me?

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


So, Monday was Fran's and my appointment with the USCIS. Probably I was more outwardly nervous than he, as I gave voice to my anxiety, but we both were pretty collected as we went in for our 9:45 AM appointment.

My nervousness stemmed not from any wrongdoing on our part, but from my misgivings about our interviewer; the interviewers are trained to ferret out lies, so I figured that, after searching for deceit every day for however long these people have done this job, they would come to view everyone who walks through their doors with suspicion. After all, in life you tend to see what you're looking for, whether positive or negative; would our interviewer see us as guilty until proven innocent?

My fears seemed to be unfounded; the entire interview consisted of three questions, all of which were directed at my husband:

1) What is your wife's birthdate?
2) Where was your wife born?
3) When were you married?

Fran was able to answer all of these questions without any problems, and the interviewer actually cracked a hint of a smile at a couple of points, like when I hissed at Fran that we should have been made copies of our utility bills, and when I wouldn't give him a photo from our wedding album. And he was absolutely flabbergasted when we showed him the article from the Irish Independent, and mentioned that a British magazine was interested in doing a story on us, as well!! LOL

The only hitch was in Fran's medical report, which the INS-recommended doctor filled out on an outdated form. The form actually was more rigorous in its requirements than the new form, but the interviewer refused to accept it, instead making Fran return to the doctor, have him fill out the current form, and hand-deliver it back to the immigration office. While annoying, it was only a minor issue.

That said, it prevented us from having any sense of closure on Monday. According to Fran, he would've had his green card on Monday if everything had been in order, since they print out the cards at the same location. Now, we have to wait and see. Everything should be okay, but the "waiting and seeing" always makes me even more nervous, because I never know if another mistake, another "hitch," is on the way....

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Remembering His Life

Yesterday, my brother, George, should've been celebrating his twenty-fifth birthday. Instead, today we are commemorating the first anniversary of his death by suicide. While both days have been difficult, and while it's difficult to believe sometimes that a year has passed already, at the same time, it's hard not to see how my grief has changed over the past twelve months.

When my brother first took his own life, the pain of his death was compounded by the manner in which he died. For a long time afterward, I kept envisioning the manner in which he died, seeing his lifeless body in my mind's eye. Any good times we shared were overshadowed by regret: regret that I hadn't seen this coming; regret that, with my own depression, I hadn't been a better role model; regret that I resented him so much when we were children; regret that we only had seven years as adults to enjoy each other's company. I focused on the unfairness of the situation, how most siblings who fought as children then have decades to enjoy a newfound closeness as adults, while we were denied that. I hated myself for not being a better sister.

As time has passed, while I don't miss George any less, I have begun to find solace in remembering his life. I can smile when I think of the funny and creative things he did or said, and can enjoy relating such tales to others once more. And I know that my brother will live on always in my heart and mind, and in the hearts and minds of all who loved him, for as long as we have these memories.

Rest in peace, George.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Cat Escapades, Part 2

My husband, Fran, was getting his breakfast this morning. He'd put his bowl of raisin bran on the kitchen table and went to the fridge, which is located next to the table, to get some milk for his cereal. In the time it took for him to turn around to get his milk, the cat, Andy, had jumped up on the table, and was getting ready to stick his nose into Fran's cereal. Predictably, my husband unceremoniously dumped the cat onto the floor.

Later in the morning, Fran was went to walk back into the kitchen from the living room, only to find Andy sitting back up on the table, facing the door and patiently waiting for my husband to see him there. Could it be more obviously a dare?

Pets are like two-year-olds that never grow up.