There are things you do because they feel right & they may make no sense & they may make no money & it may be the real reason we are here: to love each other & to eat each other’s cooking & say it was good.
I just increased my grocery budget by $50 dollars. To $650 a month.
I took all of your advice to heart, each and every word. I checked out some coupon web sites and I will for sure be making a meal plan every two weeks and posting it on my refrigerator. We shop at the cheapest grocery store in town and we don’t eat a lot of processed food. I’m going to make my own Lara bars. We always eat the leftovers. We go to the farmer’s market, and we don’t buy the fancy brands most of the time and we almost never eat out and when we do we go to Wendy’s.
but. But. Cooking is one of my great life loves. It always has been and always will be, and it is as much a part of me as my brown hair and my tin ear. I can’t dance or carry a tune, I have a terrible sense of direction and to be honest I’m not great at telling time. I have a hard time remembering my left from my right.
But I am a great cook, and I love food. I love to read about food and talk about food and look at pictures of food. I love to figure out what to serve with what and I love sauces and desserts and garnishes and almost every part of the pig. Food fascinates me, the swirl and the splash and the smell, the history and the culture and the worlds all caught up in something as simple as a family meal. It’s simple. For me, dinner is like falling in love, five nights a week.
I’m not going to be able to feed my family on $60 a week. I’m just not. I am so proud of anyone who can, but I am not going to stop buying overpriced ingredients and I am going to continue to experiment with fancy dinners and overpriced cuts of meat and it will always be something that really matters to me – trying to feed as much delicious food to as many friends as I can fit in my dining room. And I’m ok with that. I don’t think you can put a price on that. When I think of happiness, I think of a hot kitchen and a full glass of wine and a big hungry family and a menu as long as your arm, on a day when all of the picky eaters decide to keep their mouths shut and just give the polenta a chance.
And so I think we’ll always spend more on food than the average family. It’s a part of who I am and a part of what I love. And that is a trade off I can live with. I will never own a $2000 dollar bike or an eighty inch television or a $350 phone, and I will always be a fan of saving $2 dollars on a jar of peanut butter, and I for certain wish food was cheaper. But I will probably also have saffron in my pantry and truffle butter in the fridge, and that’s cool. I like it like that. That’s one of the real reasons I am here, to cook for you. And to hear you say it was good.
I posted this with trembling fingers. I cried as I proofread. It was a true last resort, to put that out there. A written out cry for help.
I should have realized, but I was just…in a dark place, where I could not imagine the amazing support I would receive. I knew that you guys were awesome, but I did not know, before hand, that your words would become a life rope and that every comment would pull me a little closer to shore. I never knew how much it would help to hear, over and over, “Me too” and “It was so hard, but I did it too, and it made such a difference.” I never knew how reassuring it would be to find out that so many of you have been through this, have felt this way, have had to ask for help. It felt so much less scary when I found out I was not alone. And as I read your words my dark place became a little brighter and then gradually, slowly, lit a little tiny light at a time, began to glow.
Naming all those fears and dragging them out into the light of day made them less grand somehow. The monster in the dark, revealed, turned out not to be so scary as I had thought.
I read the first comment and felt a little better. I read the tenth comment and thought that maybe I could just find my insurance card, even if I didn’t do anything with it. I read the fourteenth comment and thought that maybe I could log into the insurance web site and just see if there were any doctors near me. I read the twentieth comment and thought that maybe I would look up in my insurance book what my benefits were. And then I got phone calls and emails and read more comments and I took a deep breath and called the insurance company and said out loud to a real live person that I needed a psychiatrist, and I got an authorization number and a list of doctors and later that night Mr. E brought home thai food and then we looked at the doctor list and he listened while I told him that I would call tomorrow and then he said “Why don’t you call now?” and I explained why I didn’t want to and then he handed me the phone and he sat by me and I called.
My lovely new doctor just returned my call and I have an appointment with her next Thursday. She didn’t ask me any weird questions and I didn’t have to offer up any explanations, other than how to spell Mr. E’s last name and what that wailing noise was in the background. Hopefully when I told her I had a 20 month old she started to write out my prescription.
So, I did it. Now all I have to do is show up to my appointment and hope that I can refrain from telling my new doctor to rock my world.
I feel better. Not super better. but about as much better as a person can feel who has some kind of quink in her brain but who knows that she is doing something to fix it, finally. Actually. That kind of better.
Just let me say this. I can never ever ever ever ever ever thank all of you enough, for your response and your help and your words and your emails and your reassurances and offering me your home phone numbers and your me toos and your stories and your support. I know that I am the one that picked up the phone, and I am proud of me, I am. But you. You all – your words made me strong.
And now I am going to take Cate’s excellent suggestion and buy myself a large silver nut I’ve been eyeing on Etsy for ages. Nuts for the nuts, as they say.
I have so many reasons why not.
I don’t have child care. I don’t know how much it will cost. I am embarrassed. I don’t trust doctors. I believe in figuring things out on my own. I just need some more Vitamin D and a G* Lite. I will feel better if I start running again. I should learn to be more honest with the people in my life. I just need to get out more. I want to have another baby. I am scared.
The truth is that I haven’t been very honest here lately. I am aware that my writing is suffering. Don’t you all want! to! hear! about! my! budget!?
The truth is that I feel buried under a mountain of sad. I feel like everything that’s going wrong has morphed into this endless layer cake and I can’t see where the layers start and if I can’t figure out where the layers start I don’t know how to fix it. Every minute it shifts and turns and slips from my grasp.
Mr. E is befuddled and I tell him that his three problems don’t compare to my thirty. That he can’t expect me to be in a good mood when these have been the most stressful three months of my life. When the weather and weight charts and our bank account balance and what hall table to buy and my eroding family and my mother’s judgmental tone and the constant work of trying to make people like me and read my site and to write something worth while and our broken gate and my lost running routine and the weight I still haven’t lost and the never ending day in and day dullness out of the life of a SAHM and the interrupted sleep and the crying it out and the beans for dinner and the budget – when you add it all together I feel like I should get a very large very solid gold medal just for sort of keeping it together.
I don’t want to go to the doctor. I don’t want to do it. I am scared and scared and scared. I picture myself sitting in an office, shrugging my shoulders and saying “I just feel sad” to a stranger and I want to throw up. I shake all over thinking of it.
I think it’s a ridiculous design – the most anxious and neurotic and crazy people are the ones who are expected to do all these insanely anxious making things to try to fix the problem? If I could call up a doctor and make an appointment and blithely find child care and saunter in and explain all my problems and get out of the house without having an anxiety attack, I wouldn’t need to go to the doctor.
I have nothing more to talk about because this is just becoming all I can think about. I can’t write. I spend half my day wanting to throw up and the other half of my day crying and the other half of the day wishing for sleep and the other half of the day praying away the dreams. My muscles ache from the tension of being me.
I can’t talk to anyone about it. I don’t want to talk to anyone about it. I can’t hear anymore about what I should be doing, or how I should fix things, or what better ways I should be living my life. I don’t want any more advice about how much I suck.
You won’t know about any of this, I know. You’ll say “I had no idea” or maybe you’ll wonder if I’m being melodramatic, but working the sinking weight of depression into a phone conversation isn’t something I’ve mastered yet. And I am a survivor. I have learned to keep quiet about these things, not to court awkwardness, to cry in the shower.
And sometimes I do feel better. A Sunday morning in the park, a funny email, a back rub, a glass of wine. The fog does lift. I do smile through the gray. But then there are mornings like this one, when all my defenses are down and tears land on Eli’s soft downy hair and I hate myself for it, hate it. Wonder what else I have passed down, what I’m doing to him now.
I don’t even know how it works. Do I just casually mention the sad to my regular doctor, right after I tell him I think I have celi@c disease? Do I have to meet with a psychiatrist all the time, once a week? Will certain drugs make things worse, scramble egg my brain so I’m an anxious muddled tooth grinding mess, more than I am now?
I feel like there’s a blackboard out there of my life, a Back to the Future Polaroid, and my life, the one I had picked out for so long, is being erased from it. Like I am losing my some day daughter and my future four children and my craftsman in the burbs, making chocolate chip cookies when my kids get home from school, it’s all slipping away in the time my brain takes to really pickle itself, and I’m waiting to be left with an empty frame.
But even worse than that. The worst part is that it feels like I’ve lost my words. Something I had in my writing feels gone. I want nothing more than to sit down in front of my blog and spin tales and fit the words together like puzzle pieces and tell you how it feels to be me and have it ring that bell in you and have you say “me too” and I have lost that. This…whatever it is… It is stuck in the pipe and nothing else is getting past it.
There are all these voices in my head now and they are the voices of my mother and my husband and my son and my friends and they all tell me this is bigger than I am, that I need more help than a Go Lite and a bottle of Vitamin D, but none of them can take my place and pick up that phone and make me an appointment and walk in there instead of me. None of them can explain to someone else how scary it feels to be me right now, how I wonder if this is just how my brain is put together, if I am just meant to be sad, if I have made all the wrong choices in my life and so I deserve to live an unhappy life, I am just not strong enough to fight and so I need to learn to love losing.
I am telling you this because I have nothing else to say. And I am hoping that if I get this out, something will come unstuck. I am hoping today is the day I can do it, that some how the unsticking will make me strong.
That today I will be able to pick up the phone.
A big congratulations to my friend Sarah who ran her first marathon in 3 hours and 52 minutes this morning while I uh, slept. Woo hoo! She so so rocks.
Speaking of running, the other day Mr. E emailed me a NYT article about an elite runner who had a baby and then started having all kinds of problems training afterwards – her times were terrible and she felt awful the whole time. It sounded just like when I was training for the Detroit Half last year, which was a miserable experience all around. Turns out she has Celi@c Disease, kicked into gear by her pregnancy. What do you know. I look forward to churning out some six minute miles momentarily.
We made $46 dollars at our garage sale. Mr. E was highly offended at the total but hey, it’s $46 dollars we didn’t have before our garage sale, right? I’m just happy to have the giant ugly file cabinet out of my backyard. The rest of it is going in a free pile on the side of the road.
We’re still waiting for test results, but I swear Senor Pants just grew out of a whole bunch of clothes and his fingernails are getting longer, so that’s cool.
The general consensus on saving money at the grocery store seems to be 1. plan your meals 2. don’t buy crap and 3. eat less meat. We certainly don’t eat fancy expensive meat, and I try to do a few vegetarian meals every month, but my husbands metabolism is such that if I do make a vegetarian dinner, he’ll be in the kitchen making himself a frozen pizza a few hours later, the stinker.
I also experimented with buying the Sunday paper this week, for the coupons, and there was ONE coupon that we might have used, for $2.00 off bleach. Considering the paper costs $1.50, I think we can all agree that it isn’t worth it. However, we did have a really nice morning sitting around the park and reading the paper and eating Nerd Ropes, so I’m willing to consider that $1.50 well spent.
So, back to meal planning it is. I won’t lie, if it weren’t for the gluten thing, I’d still be throwing ten premade meals in my cart at Trader Joe’s, but I can’t really do that anymore. We’ll see how meal planning goes. Sometimes I have a hard time making myself eat what I have planned, but I am sure it will save me money in the long run.
Gluten free lemon bars made from lemons I grew myself are in the oven as we speak. Have I mentioned I love California? Home grown lemons! Nothing on earth smells better.
My Flip camera arrives tomorrow. Look out.