Thursday, January 27, 2011

Blown Away

My dad is one of the gassiest people I know. Some of my earliest memories involve my dad, fart noises and laughter in some form or another. One of my father's favorite ass-air antics would take place while riding in the car. He thought it was HILARIOUS to let one rip and then lock the automatic windows so we had to sit there and choke on the stench. We would scream, eyes watering and shirts over our noses, at my dad (laughing so hard he could barely keep the car on the road) until he finally relented to releasing the locks. We would stick our heads out the window and pant like frantic dogs as we sucked in the blessed fresh air. My poor sisters and I. It is shocking that we didn't suffer some sort of brain damage from the frequency and seriousness of stink we were forced to endure.

Now, as an adult, I have a whole new perspective on my childhood trauma. My dad wasn't really trying to torture me for his own comedic benefit. Nope. He was preparing me, carefully honing my tolerance for what would be my inevitable future. Like a coach fine tuning an athlete for the Olympics, my dad was putting me though the only proper training that could render me fit for my greatest challenge yet: my husband.

God bless his heart, (You know, in the south, you can say anything you want about someone as long as you "bless their heart") my husband has many, many fine qualities. He is loving, smart, funny and loyal. He is sweet, affectionate and talented. But my dear God in heaven, he has an ass that can melt plastic from 50 yards away. Forget Chicago. Eagan, Minnesota is the new windy city.

Now, I will be the first to admit that my toots don't smell like a bouquet of freshly pick petunias. About once ever 3-4 months I let one fly that has the potential to kill a small horse. There is the "Slumberland Incident of 2010" where I rendered a perfectly good mattress unsellable. However, these events occur with much less frequency than the air pollutants Simon releases on a daily basis. Nevertheless, when one my rare air biscuits finds its way to his nose, he likes to gag, choke and act like I've just committed a fart felony of monstrous proportions. Please. I'd love for him to spend just one day in my nose!

The absolute worst is when I am just about to drift off to sleep and Simon butt-blasts under the covers. It is horrible because for some reason the farts seems to fester under the blankets and packs an especially powerful punch once it reaches my face. I've considered sleeping with tissue shoved up my nostrils. Not exactly my idea of a relaxing way to drift of to sleep. In fact, it is the stuff nightmares are made of.

I've had to go to the extreme measure of restricting his diet of excess fiber. I have to be especially careful when we are grocery shopping to scan our cart for a rogue box of Fiber One bars that always mysteriously ends up among our food. And don't even get me started on the nights he sneaks White Castle. I've tried countless times to force feed him Bean-o but he adamantly refuses, deeming it "unnatural." I think that he secretly enjoys farting and has no intention of reducing his gas emissions. Actually, I very much doubt there is much shame in his game at all. I'd even go so far as to say that he is darn right proud of his farts, especially the really stinky ones. I've overheard him bragging to his friends when he thinks I'm not listening. What is it with guys and their gas gusto? Women bond over shared experiences and emotional support. Men? They bond through a brotherhood of farts and football.

Alas, I fear I am doomed to a life of nasal assault. I've married my father's protege and I knew what I was getting myself into. Oh well, I suppose it could be much worse. I could have married a man who doesn't believe in deodorant or a shoe salesman. I guess I can deal with having my hair blown back on a daily basis. On the bright side, I will save a lot of money on blow dryers.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

TILT #5 (Things I Love and Treasure)

For me, so much of the happiness I find in life is found in the simple and small things. One of the things I like to do from time to time is make a list of the things that have recently brought me joy and made me smile.

*Pens that write super smoothly (Love 'em even more if they are fun colors!)
*Wine. Red, white, blush...pretty much if it is wet and called I wine, I love it.
*50mg of Benadryl on a night when I can't sleep.
*Freshly brewed coffee
*The smell of roses
*Praying
*Discovering kitty piles on my bed
*Slippers
*Online Bill Payment Systems
*My beautiful nieces, Claire and Julia

Friday, January 21, 2011

Farewell Farmville


So I recently decided I need to take a much needed hiatus from the world of Facebook games. I am one of the millions of folks who have been sucked in to the ever captivating and addicting Frontierville and Farmville applications. I began to think I may have a problem when I realized I was spending around 2-3 hours a day planting crops, harvesting and sending hundreds of "gifts" (otherwise know as "annoying the hell out of") all my friends. I was working so hard in my virtual fields that I started to actually think I had become a real farmer. I knew things were getting out of hand when I started wearing overalls and found dirt mysteriously appearing under my fingernails. Not to mention the strange looks I got when I told people I had to get home to tend to my chicken coop.

By nature, I am an accomplishment driven person. Those stupid "missions" had me tied to my computer every spare moment of the day. I couldn't help the strange sense of satisfaction I got every time I won a new ribbon form harvesting my millionth crop or was named "Tremendous Tender" in recognition of all my devoted horticultural efforts. I would stagger, blurry-eyed to my computer first thing in the morning and hurry home after work to make sure I harvested my crops before they withered. I was a supreme superstar, pasture princess in an imaginary world. Sure, I had the most efficient and beautiful homestead in all of Farmville, but it pretty much translated to being a real world loser.

It was high time for a self-induced Facebook intervention. I have decided to trade in my virtual accomplishments for real world ones. Spending all that time in front of the computer left me too tired and dazed to actually get things done in my real life. I am proud to say that I have been Facebook game free for 6 whole days now and I feel great. I have gotten so much done with the time I would have normally been spending slaving away on my faux farm. I am glad that I have traded in my pitchfork for more a meaningful purpose. But don't think for one moment this means I will stop wearing my cowgirl boots. Those actually look good when I am not on a tractor.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

TILT #4 (Things I Love and Treasure)

For me, so much of the happiness I find in life is found in the simple and small things. One of the things I like to do from time to time is make a list of the things that have recently brought me joy and made me smile.

*Ketchup and lots of it
*Red Lipstick
*Reading
*Singing (in the car, shower, at work, pretty much anywhere...)
*Harp Music
*Dirty Jokes
*Hugging big dogs
*The song "Bones" by Little Big Town from the True Blood Soundtrack
*My childhood photo album
*Tulips. They help me remember spring is not far away

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

To Reproduce or Not to Reproduce? So Many Questions!

Ever since I learned I had a uterus, I wanted children. In fact, at one point, the only personal goal I could define for myself was to "enter into motherhood and be the best mom ever." This was during the blissfully idealistic time of my late teens/early twenties when I would watch that show A Baby Story on TLC and bawl my eyes out as if on cue, the moment the baby popped out of the mom's hoo-dang. I would honk into a tissue, marvel at the beautiful miracle of birth, wondering when it would finally be my turn!

A little more than a decade has since laid a pretty significant layer of dust on my ovaries. As I moved (not so gracefully, mind you) into my later twenties and now (a tad more gracefully) my early thirties, I have come to realize that bringing children into the world is serious business. They could turn out to be murderers, rapist, victims of murder or rape, politicians, drug addicts or alcoholics, (have you seen the show Intervention??), used car sales people, or worst of all, reality TV stars. I have to ask myself if I am ready to deal with that possibility.

The other thing is I don't know that I can get down with is sleep deprivation. I am a girl who likes her sleep and lots of it. I have serious doubts if I could hack a life on a few hours of sleep each night. I could just imagine myself a wild-eyed zombie slathering diaper cream on my bagel and cream cheese on my baby's butt. It wouldn't be pretty and neither would I. I'd be that girl who people would shake their heads at and remember the days when I used to shower and wear something other than a stained men's t-shirt, Sponge Bob pajama pants and slippers to the grocery store.

Then there is the whole not drinking for nine months. I am not a big drinker to begin with but the thought of it makes my mouth water for a giant Bloody Mary with an equally large beer chaser. Not to mention the fact that I would have virtually no social life to speak of. Who really wants to hang out with someone who is covered in baby vomit, needs a pack mule to carry around all the baby luggage and is exhausted by 7pm? Between feeding, burping, soothing crying fits and changing diapers, when would I have a moment to myself? No more lazy afternoons reading in bed, painting my nails and snuggling with my kitties.

I can say, however, that poopie diapers don't phase me in the least. I used to work in a day care where I took care of 12 infants all day long. I have seen a wider variety of poop than a Porta-Potty cleaner person. In fact, I have dealing with a "shitty situation" in the diaper department down to a science. I was also able to sit in a rocking chair and feed one baby while putting two other babies to sleep by bouncing them with my feet in those "bouncy chairs." I'd come home with a mysterious combination of substances dribbled across my shirt and damn it if I didn't absolutely love that job. It was so much fun to sing to those little buggers and watch them actually enjoy it. It was so rewarding to have one of the babies crying, reaching their chubby little arms up at me and knowing exactly what to do to calm them down. It was so cool to watch them grow, change and become little people. It was endlessly entertaining to watch them toddle around and land on their big diaper-butts as they were learning to walk. I loved teaching them how to talk and knowing that I had a significant hand in their development.

I also used to teach preschool as well. That was a blast. Those kids used to say the funniest things and it always warmed my heart when they used colorful profanity in perfect context. I was the "cool teacher," the one who would walk in the door and have a gang of kids jumping around, excited to see me. They ran to me for hugs and comfort when they sustained a play-related injury on the jungle gym. They stood in front of me with proud anticipation of my reaction while showing me their latest Lego tower creation or how they had finally learned to write their name correctly.

In all honesty, I think there is something to be said for creating a family. There is something truly magical and beautiful about creating a little being that is half me and half my husband. It would be so surreal to look down at that little face, knowing we brought it into being. I've heard parent after parent say that all the hard work is worth it and being a parent lets you experience love on a whole new level. 

It is these things I wrestle with now that having my own children is a viable and tangible reality. I am no longer on the birth control pill and each month I chew my nails as I wonder weather or not my period will be on time. I know that if I were to get pregnant, I would likely poop my pants and cry. I am sure I'd be equally as excited but I just want to feel like I am totally ready. People say that you can never be totally ready for parenthood and that things happen when they are meant to. I am trying my damnedest to find my zen in that. I guess having a baby wouldn't be the end of the world, just the end of my world as I know it. I just want to be a good parent and feel ready to handle the changes it brings with it. At the very least, I know a few people I could unload the kid on if it were to turn out to be a total asshole. You have no idea the sense of peace and comfort that brings me.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Observations From a Psych Unit

Over the course of the past 3 years of working in a locked psychiatric unit and interacting with those in acute mental crisis, I have seen many strange, unusual and often entertaining things. I have also made some really interesting observations and seen some very unique patterns emerge. The following is a compilation of those things.

1. Lots of people decide that either the mall or the airport is a great place to go during a psychotic episode. I can not tell you how often we have patients who were discovered in one of these two places engaging in some bizarre behavior and are subsequently brought to the hospital.

2. Most cases of people with Borderline Personality Disorder have a history of sexual abuse. For me, people with this disorder are among the most challenging to deal with. However, as I read history after history of these patients, I become enraged at the extensive sexual abuse these people have endured. It makes me so angry for these people. It is absolutely unbelievable the devastating and lasting effects that abuse has on people.

3. Many schizophrenic patients do not like to shower or care for themselves when they are acutely ill. Often times they get so lost in their internal world of hallucinations and stimuli that they neglect themselves. Also, they often have severe paranoia about the shower or showering. As a result, they do not shower, eat, drink or clean up after themselves. Some of the most potent body odor I have ever smelled has come from schizophrenic patients who refuse to shower. It has gotten to the point where we have to get hospital security involved and force patients to shower.

4. One of the most common delusions people have are surrounding religion. People have some very interesting beliefs when they are psychotic or in an acute mental crisis. I have seen a Jehovah's Witnesses refuse to eat or take medication because she was convinced that we are trying to feed them blood (receiving blood transfusions or other blood products is strictly forbidden in their religion). I have seen patients become obsessed with religious rituals, believe that they are god (or sent by god) and need to fulfill a strange mission. I find it fascinating that religion is a topic that is the focus for so many people during psychosis.

5. Another interesting observation is that some of the most severely ill patients are also some of the most artistically talent people I've met. I have worked with concert pianist, famous artists, writers and painters. I am always blown away by the level of artistic ability is found in these patients who have such severe mental illness. I don't know what the correlation is exactly, but I think it would make for a really interesting study.

6. One thing that I think so often gets lost when people think about mental illness is the fact that behind the bizarre and strange behavior is an intensely vulnerable person with the same needs that the rest of us have. Even though they may not have the ability or means to show it, these people experience intense sadness, lonliness and fear. They all have the same need to feel loved, accepted and safe. Some days I want to pull my hair out at work and feel ready to throw in the towel after a long day of dealing with complex behaviors. I try my best to keep humanity, basic human connection and needs central to the care I give.

Friday, January 14, 2011

TILT #3 (Things I Love and Treasure)

For me, so much of the happiness I find in life is found in the simple and small things. One of the things I like to do from time to time is make a list of the things that have recently brought me joy and made me smile.


*Chipotle!
*The song we made up and sing to our cats
*Piping hot tea
*Big, fat snowflakes. They are the prettiest!
*Make-up, especially getting new makeup!
*Painting my nails
*Back rubs from my mom (no one can do it like mom!)
*My husband Simon's bright red hair
*Burger King french fries
*Music

Friday, January 7, 2011

TILT #2 (Things I Love & Treasure)

For me, so much of the happiness I find in life is found in the simple and small things. One of the things I like to do from time to time is make a list of the things that have recently brought me joy and made me smile.

*Fresh Pineapple (Like a tropical vacation in my mouth!)
*Cruise Control
*The silly song my husband (Simon) and I made up and sing to each other.
*Hair Straighteners
*Fresh, clean sheet on my bed
*Slippers
*Toaster Ovens
*Sephora
*Hot Apple Cider
*Talking to my sisters on the phone

Monday, January 3, 2011

The Ethical Slut

I love to read. I love a good story or a book that offers me the opportunity learn or look at things in a new way. "Taboo" topics are one of my favorite things to read about for a couple of reasons. First, because it is considered "taboo." Let's be honest, there is a certain thrill in delving into topics that are considered "off color" and cause people to blush. Secondly, by nature, taboo topics are often very intriguing and multi-faceted. They provoke me to think deeply, expansively and re-evaluate my own perspective in respect to the topic. Finally, once considered with a truly open mind, taboo things don't seem as mysterious or strange as they once did.

With that said, I recently read a book called "The Ethical Slut." It is a very interesting book about poly-relationships and people who maintain multiple intimate relationships at the same time. According to this book, an "ethical slut" is one who engages in polyamourous lifestyle in an honest, open way so that all people involved are respected and aware. This lifestyle concept has always been one that has fascinated me. Thanks to this book, I feel like I have a deeper understand, appreciation and respect for people who have non-monogamous lifestyles.

Upon finishing the book, a few things stood out in my mind. First of all, I was floored by the sheer amount of emotional work has to go into successfully maintaining multiple relationships. Holy crap. I mean, sometimes I feel like one is more than I can handle! Being an "ethical slut" and doing it right must be exhausting at times...and then there is all the sex! :P But in all seriousness, an ethical slut has to be honest in all aspects, most importantly, they have to be honest with themselves. They have to be emotionally mature, sensitive and aware. Even more so than monogamous folks. It makes sense when you think about juggling different relationships with multiple individuals whose many needs are unique to each person.

For some people (myself included) it is a huge stretch to imagine life outside of monogamy. It isn't something our culture validates as an acceptable form of relationship. Even though it isn't something I feel fits my way of life, I don't really think there is anything wrong with people who do. One thing mentioned in the book is that it is unrealistic to expect one single person to perfectly fulfill all of our needs. They also say that having relationships with many people provides a way to have needs met by different partners and that it is also a way for them to learn more about themselves though close connections with others. I think that does make sense. Being a person who is constantly looking for ways to grow and get to know myself better, I can not think of situations that have made me grow more than close relationships. For me, men have come into my life for a variety of reasons. We dated, shared unique experiences with each other, I learned about myself, that person and deepened my ability to connect with others. Then it was over and I went through the mourning and came out of it stronger, wiser and more self aware. I got better and better at being a partner and grew more and more with each relationship.

Some people see polyamory as being immoral. At one point in my life, I did too. However, I think we need to push ourselves beyond what our minds feel comfortable with. Do you think it is immoral because society and our culture tells us it is? Or is it because of some sort of fear of the unknown/understood? I tend to think that nothing fosters acceptance like understanding. I find that if you truly open yourself to something and take the time to learn about it with an open mind, you can, at the very least develop a healthy respect for something "taboo." I could go on and on about this topic, seriously! It is so much deeper and broader than I can touch on here. I highly recommend the book "The Ethical Slut." It will open your eyes, make you think and you may even learn a thing or two about yourself, I know I did!

I offer this challenge to you: Think of a "taboo" topic that makes you curious, uncomfortable or intrigued. Find a way to educate yourself about it and see how your perspective changes. Finally, share it with me! I would love to hear about it! The following is a list of ideas for topics to explore:
*Polyamory
*Witch Craft or Wicca (This is one I have found very interesting)
*Homosexuality
*Body Modification (Tattooing, scarring or piercing)
*Prostitution (I recommend the book "The Mustang Ranch and Its Women" by Alexa Albert)
*Self-Injurious Behavior
*Gender Identity, Cross Dressing and Gender Reassignment
*Animal Testing
*Racial Issues (Interracial relationships, etc)
*Learn about a religion you don't know about

Saturday, January 1, 2011

TILT #1 (Things I Love & Treasure)

For me, so much of the happiness I find in life is found in the simple and small things. One of the things I like to do from time to time is make a list of the things that have recently brought me joy and made me smile. Here is my first blog "TILT" (Things I love & Treasure) list.

* Blowing bubbles
* Totinos Pizza Rolls
* Painting my nails
* Snuggling my kitties
* Dry erase markers
* Diet Coke
* Unexpected hugs
* Super soft blankets
* Chelsea Handler/watching Chelsea Lately
* The smell of freshly peeled oranges.

New Year, New Blog.

I have always kinda viewed blogs as a narcissistic indulgence. Like, who would ever really give a shit about my two cents on world events or my personal, emotional dramas? I have come to the conclusion that the answer may in fact be no one and I am perfectly OK with that. I guess starting this blog is for me, just a chance to feel like I am offering a bit of myself to the world for who ever finds it worthwhile.

OK, now for the formal introduction: Hello! I am Stefany. I am a thirty one year old gal from Saint Paul, Minnesota. I am a psychiatric nurse and I work in a locked intensive-care unit for people in psychiatric crisis. I work with actively suicidal, homicidal and psychotic patients. It is a job I love and can count on it to challenge, frustrate and reward me on levels I never imagined possible.

I am a mother to four cats who I adore. But, before you go thinking I am a crazy cat lady, know that 2 of the four cats I hold my husband solely responsible for. The pair of us are HUGE animal lovers and would likely have a zoo if it were legal to have tigers, penguins and dolphins as pets. My husband, Simon and I were just married on September 4, 2010. So we are navigating the unfamiliar waters of being married and finding out how me make it work in our own way.

What else? I am a whore for creative self expression. I love to make jewelry, attempt to sing/play guitar, write, draw, get tattooed/pierced or do random crafts and pretty much anything else that tickles my creative fancy at the moment. One of my favorite past times is laughing and I find it is frequently self-directed. I do it every opportunity I get and it is pretty much one of the greatest feelings in the world.

I also love to travel and intend to do a lot more of it! Spending time with friends and family is definitely one thing I treasure as well. One of the biggest things I do on a regular basis is try to fully embrace living and the experiences I have. I am always trying to find ways to push myself beyond my comfort zone physically, mentally, spiritually and philosophically. I deeply enjoy learning about and trying to understand different world views, lifestyles and spiritual perspectives of others. It is pretty much what makes me tick as a person and I feel the most alive when I am growing in many ways. I suppose this is enough about me for now. It is hard to sum up your entire self in a few paragraphs and I guess this is my best attempt. I look forward to writing more very soon and sharing a little pieces of me with you.