Wry Exchange

Culture Shock in my Home
06-21-09, 12:31 am
Filed under: Culture, Depression, Home, hosting | Tags: , , ,

 I am home.  I love home.  I missed Husband and the doggies.   Husband missed me, GoodDobie looks great, but BadLab is a porker.  I can’t feel his ribs, and he has a little pot belly.  No more rice and hamburger for him.  My baby Dell is here, with new innards.  I’ve been adjusting and installing today.

The other big news?  Chef and Mrs. Chef moved in with us.  They arrived a few days after I left.  Mrs. Chef had never been out of Chile before.  Chef was last here in August, and they married in April.  They’re looking for engineering jobs here.  They have lots of free time.  I thought it would be easier for Mrs. Chef to settle in without me around.  I want her to be comfortable here.  She’s adjusting well, and the dogs love her.

I returned home at 2:30am today.   (GoodDobie jumped all the way up to kiss me.  He hardly ever stood up even when he was healthy and strong.)  I walked in, and the changes were staggering.     The kitchen, and both living rooms.  Our house is over 100 years old, and we have 2 living rooms.  I assume one was once the parlor.   The upstairs bathroom and third bedroom were rearranged, too.   Anyone who knows me in real life knows I am oblivious to a lot.  I don’t notice things.   For me to be exhausted and notice all the changes was a surprise.  I still haven’t been to the basement.  Can’t take the shock.

Husband requested they not ‘clean’ his office, toolbench, our bedroom, and the third bedroom.  I use the third bedroom to keep my clothing and ironing board.   They haven’t touched the first three areas, but ‘my’ room is all rearranged.   I had clothes in different piles on the headboard/bookcase to sell on eBay, donate, or be mended.  They are all ironed, damp, and folded nicely on the bureau.  The shelves were cleared off except for junk, my scarves moved, the ironing board moved, and everything rearranged.  Apparently, she likes to iron.  She irons everything, including washcloths.

The bathroom door was closed, shower curtain closed, handwash in the bathtub, 3 scatter rugs on the floor, tp hung backwards, and blinds slanted differently.   I know it sounds petty, but we’ve lived in this house for 30 years, and Husband grew up in this house.  It’s all different.   I emptied out my travel cosmetic and bathroom bags onto the small table in the bathroom.  She lined everything up in neat rows. 

We’ll skip the kitchen and backyard, but my bookshelves.   My bookshelves.   Husband built a wall of bookshelves in our front room.  I have them arranged just so, and they’re accented with photos and tchochkes picked up from our travels.   I regularly purge books by moving them to the attic or donating.  I’m anal enough about the books that they’re arranged down to Chile-travelogues, Chile-language, and Chile-history.  I have Spanish dictionaries on one shelf, and all other languages on another.  Half of the shelves are nonfiction reference and travel, and the other half is fiction and art books.   The books are now arranged by size.    “Diving in the Caribbean” is now next to a Diane Arbus photography book.    I don’t see my little piece of the Berlin Wall anywhere.   “Lamb” by Christopher Moore is next to “The Book of Nothing.”  The photos, boxes, and decorations are all rearranged. 

Most women would probably feel violated by someone going through their clothes or makeup, but the books are what killed me.    I want to move it all back into place, but it would hurt her feelings.  Thankfully I have an appointment with the wacko doctor on Monday.


04-06-09, 12:59 am
Filed under: Depression

  I had an amazing dream last night.  I was so proud and excited.  I told myself I HAD to remember it.  It was an idea for a new product called ‘Bubbles,’  a combination bubble gum and shampoo product.   Isn’t that just the silliest dream?   I went all through marketing, testing, and packaging.  It was a long dream.

I don’t usually remember my dreams, but they tend to run towards automatic weapons, hostage situations, torture, and manhunts.

Spring Homesickness
03-03-09, 1:34 am
Filed under: Depression, Exchange Students, Outbounds Outbounds | Tags: ,

  Another student is homesick.

I’m a 17 year old girl, have been in France for 6 months, but I had to take a trip back to the states for University visits. My friends here have gone back to their respective countries, and while I have French friends, it’s not the same. Since I have come back from the US, I have been so so so homesick and I feel numb. I can’t eat and I have cried myself to sleep. I try to convince myself just to take it a week at a time, seeing as I only have 14 left, but it’s so hard. My teachers hate me because school is not my top priority seeing as I’m finished with it and they’re all mean to me. I don’t know if I can make it to the end. I don’t know what to do..
I feel strange about this one.  I am usually on the student’s side and feel empathy.  Maybe it’s because I’ve never known a student to return home for college visits.   Students in my program only go home for compassionate leave.     Maybe it’s because she feels the teachers hate her and are mean.  My snarky self thinks  ‘No,  they’re just being French.’   I’ve thought about this all day before writing.   Maybe it’s just because I forgot to take my happy pills 2 days last week.  We’ll go with that explanation.
Honestly, why wouldn’t she be homesick?  She was just home, and has to go through leaving a second time.  Her mid-year friends are gone.  It’s the middle of Winter.
Students from the Southern Hemisphere often go on January-January exchanges.  We don’t do January exchanges in my program.  It interupts the flow of the year.  We used to have 2-3 annually.  It’s hard on the mid-years.  They don’t fit in at school if they aren’t Juniors.  They don’t fit in with the other students who have been together since August for several months, and then the other kids go h0me.  They also teach the August newbies all the bad habits so they get a head start on rule breaking.
What advice can we give to this girl?  She doesn’t say anything about her host family.  Are they supportive and caring?  Would it help if she were to mentor the new arrivals?   What about her French?  Is it improving?  Doesn’t attending school help with language?  What about the parents and friends at home?  Are they encouraging her to come back home or be strong?
My best advice is to take one day at a time.  Think of something good each day.  Try to get some physical exercise to exhause your body so you can sleep.  Take naps after school if you can’t sleep at night.  2 years from now, this time will seem to have gone by in a snap.  You can do this.

The OB-Gyn Should Never Say
02-03-09, 12:51 am
Filed under: Depression, Home | Tags: ,

…Some women scream.

  I was speechless.  Sorry if it’s TMI, but I have to get it out.   I had a small girly problem.  I assumed it warranted a blood test to check hormone levels, or maybe an ultrasound.  Nope, I need an endometrial biopsy.   The doctor said she could do it today, but didn’t have any pain medication on hand.  She warned me since I never gave birth, she may not be able to ‘get in’ to do the test.  I wussed out, and made an appointment for next week.  She suggested 800mg of Motrin, and a Vicodin an hour beforehand.   I Googled as soon as I was home, and ohmygawd I’m screwed.  I feel better now that I’ve shared with the entire world.  🙂

Depression, Lower Doses, & the Economy
10-12-08, 3:35 pm
Filed under: Depression, Home | Tags:
I’m not doing as well as I had been in the Summer.  I always do better with my depression in Summertime.  My Psychiatrist and I gradually lowered my Effexor from 150mg to 75mg.  Zoloft has stayed the same, 100mg.  Effexor daily dosages go from 75-375mg.  Well, somewhere the plan went wrong. 
In the last 2 weeks, I’ve gradually noticed I have problems.  That probably means it’s been about a month. 
I haven’t been eating breakfast, and just grab a piece of fruit or cheese for lunch.  I take my meds with food in the morning.  So some days I forget to take them, or don’t take them until evening.  You can’t do that with Effexor, it gives me noticable physical differences, so imagine what it’s doing to my head.    I’ve also been skipping doses trying to make the prescriptions last longer, because they’re expensive.  (Stupid, because $30.00 isn’t that expensive, but it shows my rationalizations.)
I admitted to myself yesterday something has to change.  I’ve been trying to hide it from Husband.  Unsuccessfully, I imagine.   He chided me (gently) about something today.  It was the final shove I needed.
 I didn’t brush my teeth until Husband came home from work yesterday.  (It’s like I get a shower, but brushing my teeth is just too much.)  Earlier in the week, I shaved one underarm because it was too hard to shave both the same day.  I’ve washed the same load of clothes every day for the last week.  I start the washing machine, but it’s too much to go down and switch the clothes to the dryer.  I’ve been sleeping most of the day.  It’s really hard to stay awake.  I’ve been working on Halloween decorating for over a week.  I love kids telling us we have the best decorations in the neighborhood.  I never did go back to Curves after signing up almost 3 weeks ago.  The dishes have been piling up. 
Now I’ve admitted to myself I haven’t been taking care of myself.  I did all the dishes.  I washed BadLab.  I finally got the clothes in the dryer.  I’m calling the Psych in the morning about going back to my previous dosage.  I’ll quit skipping my meds.  It’s going to take a few weeks to get back up there, but I’m going to start trying now.
I mean really, shaving one armpit?
EDIT: It started after our week at brainwashing school.  My self esteem plummeted, and that’s when I started playing with my meds.

Avoiding Early Return

 Students should know as much as possible about their new country.   We’ve had students go to India and be surprised to eat with their hands, and see poor people.   Do your homework.  If you’re going to Taiwan, you should know they study, study, study all the time, and as a result have immature social skills.  Going to Australia doesn’t guarantee you’ll be living near the beach working on your tan all year.  You could be on a sheep ranch in the middle of nowhere.  If you’re a vegetarian, Argentina may not be the best place for you.

Do your own homework.  Don’t go to Fesland because someone else liked it.   What are your goals, hopes, likes, dislikes?  What do you want out of this year?  I interviewed a girl who wanted Australia and nowhere else.  As we got into the interview, her personality didn’t jibe with “Australia” to the interviewers.  She was conservative, religious, serious, wanted to learn a language, didn’t like the beach, and didn’t want a ‘blow-off’ year.  Her reason for wanting Australia?  She watched ‘The Borrowers Down Under’ at age 12, and always wanted to go.   A cartoon influenced her.  We talked to her, gave her time to think, and sent her to Austria.  She loved it, and it was the right choice.  She wouldn’t have lasted a month in Australia.

Parents should watch what they say.  We’ve had too many kids come home early because their parents missed them.  Personally, I think it’s selfish of the parents.  Kids will call home to vent about their new family, school, homesickness, language issues, etc.  It’s the parents job to listen, offer support, and suggestions.  Help them learn how to help themselves.  Please don’t tell FES he can come home if it’s too hard.  I know it’s killing you, but remind FES this is what he wanted, it’s only for 9-12 months and he can do it.   I can’t tell you how many panicked parent phone calls I’ve received over the years only to call FES and they’re fine.   The kids are bewildered until they realize they just tell their parents the bad stuff.  It’s common for the parents and me to have different stories from the kids.

Listen to the exchange volunteers.  We know.  If I tell you Feslandia has no support, and you’ll be on your own, don’t whine that no one is there to help you.  I tried to talk you out of it, but you insisted you were 18, very independent, and fought to go there.   If I tell you Fesica is sexist, don’t whine when people pinch your butt and treat you like a toy.   If I tell you Fesway is homogeneous, and you will stand out because you’re blonde or black, don’t complain because people stare at you all the time.   If you have SAD or depression, know that Northern Europe may make your symptoms worse.  If you’re a free spirit, but insist on going to Japan, don’t complain about all the rules.

Be honest.  I’m not being nosy, I’m trying to help.  Tell me if you have medical restrictions. We’ll work with you.  Depression is fairly common, it doesn’t count against you.  I can tell you which places are easier for gay students.  I want what’s best for you.  If you tell me you want to go to France, tell me why.  I may suggest Belgium to you.  At least consider it.  Belgium placements for our program are more urban with better public transportation, and less hours at school.   If you’ve already graduated high school, you’d probably have more fun in Belgium.

Don’t choose Fesvokia because your friend loved it.  Every exchange student thinks his country is the best.  Do your own research.  Think. Ask questions.

Snakes are Acting up
09-23-08, 7:35 pm
Filed under: Depression, Home | Tags:

 Remember last Winter when I won the Curves basket at a fundraiser?  The one that’s been gathering dust?  Chef took the socks, visor, and water bottle back to Chile for his mom.  They have Curves in Chile.   

I volunteered at a fundraiser last Saturday, and Curves had a booth.  Many of the women volunteering with me are Curves members, and were talking about it.  I told them how I won a month free, and they couldn’t believe I wasn’t using it.  One of them dragged walked me over to the booth.  The woman working the booth offered me a free week to sign up, then a t-shirt, visor, water bottle, and finally a free month.  I caved, and made an appointment for today. (She was such an enthusiastic cutie.)  I received a large emery board in Breast Cancer Pink which I gave to the woman who dragged my ass over.  (She really wanted one.)

I went today, was measured, weighed, and signed up.  I went through the circuit, and promised to return.   The snakes part?  Before I went, I ate a breakfast of chocolate chip cooks and Lime Tostitos.  A lot of them.  When I left the building, I was shaking in the car, and raced home.  I took the dogs, and went straight into bed to hide-still with my keys in my hand.  Obviously, I have issues.   Let’s see if it was a one time thing.  I really want to go back.