Fourteen years! Tomorrow marks 14 years of marriage, which is bananas. We love Halloween, which is why our ceremony anniversary falls on that holiday. 

We have been celebrating it up this week, since our "legal" anniversary was earlier last week. 

We get each other little prizes throughout the month, mostly decorations for the house (but also books for me and bat underwear for him, ha ha). We have an absolute BLAST decorating inside and out: 

Harold, with my prize book "The Witches of New York."

We changed the location of our cemetery, this is my favorite!

Ghouls above the graves and ghosts

My snake skeleton in the garden

Nana nana nana nana nana nana nana nana BAT LIGHT (and seriously dead plants)

We have a lot of fun with it. And we don't even have kids who trick or treat in our neighborhood -- the driveways are long and dark and it's two dead ends with not a lot of houses, so it's not super efficient even if there were young kids here (which there are not). The cemetery, Harold (lit so he can be seen from the street), and the bat light -- it's all for us. 

Then, Bryce made me a prize for the cemetery: 

He even made the stencil for the lettering himself. That's love.

To celebrate our Hallowedding Anniversary, we went out to a fancy dinner on Saturday. I'd wanted pictures in the cemetery in our finery at twilight, but we misjudged time and so had to do it after, at night. Bryce had the inspired idea to park his car in the garden area to light it, which made for some seriously creepy photos that I adore: 

Christine... if the demon car was a Mini

I wanted us to look like a ghost picture, but I think Bryce had trouble with "serious face."

And here is my favorite, where I haunt the cemetery: 

If our neighbors were looking out their windows or anything, they would have thought we were bonkers. But we don't care -- it is fun, it's OUR fun, and we get to be our own kids in a way. 

This is the 7th anniversary where we knew we would never have children (the first was a very raw 2017). We have had as many anniversaries living with that reality as we had where we thought perhaps there were babies in our future. That's a pretty cool milestone, actually. 

So, happy 14th wedding anniversary to us! Behold, a "normal" picture of our wedded bliss. 

To Med or Not to Med?

Over the summer I made the burgeoning realization that I might have ADHD. That what I thought was solely anxiety could actually be something else (in addition) that I had been struggling with for pretty much my entire life. 

I talked to my therapist. I read articles and sought resources. I felt a tremendous relief that things about me that were hard were also...explainable. 

And then I went to a psychiatric nurse practitioner for evaluation. After talking with me, and my therapist, and rating scales and observations from myself and my husband, he came to the conclusion that there may be ADHD at play along with the dual plagues of anxiety and depression. And he prescribed medication, Strattera. 

I have yet to start it, even though I could have as soon as I felt better from COVID (which, thankfully, is gone although I have lingering fatigue and shortness of breath, blergh). 

It's weird -- I wanted the validation, and I wanted to see if maybe addressing ADHD might alleviate some anxiety, if it was a chicken-and-egg type situation. 

But now I am reluctant to further mess with my brain chemistry... am I trying to fix something that I am already compensating for in other ways? 

Bryce is nervous, because (and this is completely sweet and romantic) he said, "But I'm afraid that if you take the medication that you'll lose some of the things that make you YOU, and that are so loveable and endearing -- your frenetic energy is one of the things I love about you!" 

I am a believer in taking medication when you need it. I am a believer in outsourcing my serotonin, and it really works for me. Do I need to add norepinephrine into the mix? I've made it 47 years, and while my insides are significantly messier than my outsides, and I am a really proficient masker, which is exhausting, do I need to take something further to be a functional humanlike substance? 

I think because I am asking all these questions, it's good to press pause. I have a tendency to jump all in on things and fully commit, when maybe a pause is a better idea (like, um, all my full-steam-ahead cycles and protocols and always immediately going to the next possible thing, which ultimately wasn't the best). Maybe I'm trying to fix something that explains a lot about who I am and what's more difficult, but isn't actually broken. I'm not sure a pill is going to suddenly make my piles disappear or my grading happen before it piles up into a mountain of procrastination. And the risk that it might aggravate my anxiety, which is pretty well controlled currently... that would not be worth a change. 

Maybe I should focus more on the skills than the pills right now. I just can't tell if I'm procrastinating on it, fearing change, or doubting if meds are the right answer at this point. 

Goals vs Reality

My district has been offering a lot of thoughts and professional development with the theme of "work-life balance" and "resilience." I bristle a little bit at this, because often the reason why work-life balance is so hard is because the job is just never-ending and we keep getting new initiatives to implement and new hats to put on and new crises to avert. Taking a mindful minute is not really going to undo that structural house of cards. 

However, I did set some goals this year to help me where I can control things, since I am not single-handedly going to overhaul the educational system. 

1) Get up earlier. (Includes the opposite -- go to bed earlier.)
2) Eat breakfast at home. No more microwaving egg bites in your classroom microwave, announcing to the hallway and stairwell that you are indeed in school today. 
3) Eat lunch. Like, with people. Away from my desk and/or computer.  
4) Leave work at school except Sunday work. I haven't figured out how to NOT have Sunday work. 
5) Say NO more. Don't sign up for 80 billion things. Don't succumb to the guilt. 

I would give myself a solid B- so far. You can check my math though.

1) I am actually doing a pretty good job of going to bed and getting up earlier. Unfortunately, time seems to shift when I have more of it and I am still rushing like mad to get to school on time. This is a stumper. Do I live in a twilight zone where time does not exist the same way it does for others? (The answer is yes. See: ADHD.) So, I'm doing passably well, but it isn't making much of a difference. Grade: B

2) I have eaten absolutely ZERO eggs at school this year! I have, in a day where I hit "dismiss" instead of "snooze," brought yogurt and granola, but that's not offending anyone's olfactory and I didn't eat it in front of anyone. Grade: A+

3) Eat lunch as an actual break in the presence of other humans. This, ironically, was something that administration suggested. Take lunch to recharge! You'll have a better afternoon! And you'll get to spend time with colleagues! I have done this about 50% of the time. In part because COVID keeps whooshing through our building. I have been masking at school since the first full week because of COVID striking close, but you have to eat. And apparently eating not quite on top of other people for 15 minutes is enough time to get COVID. So yes. Spoiler: I have motherflipping COVID again. Maybe it's not time for social lunch yet. (The good news is that this round has been less severe than previous, but I DID NOT WANT IT. And it is NOT "just a cold." And with this variant, I didn't test positive until I swabbed my throat, which means everyone is swabbing noses and coming up negative while horribly contagious. SIGH. There is no way for me to avoid it as a teacher, I am starting to realize. Which is unbelievably shitty.) So, Grade: C, but F for COVID. 

4) I don't know how people get shit done during the day, during "prep periods." I honestly don't. I am doing okay with this goal, but honestly because I am cheating. I do it all at work and don't bring it home (or take work on a lovely round trip in my backpack without actually looking at it at home), but only because I'm staying until 5 or so. It does keep the separation up, but I am realizing there is literally no getting ahead of the to-do list no matter what. See: Structural Problems In Education. Grade: C+ (points deducted for cheating)

5) This one I am actually doing gangbusters at. I feel horrifically guilty, but I did not answer the call to do bus duty before or after school (it's a rare year where I have 1st and 9th "free," but I need every ounce of that time and being on my feet outside is probably not the best idea). I am looking to lower my "Yes, sure, pick me!" and I'm doing way better. Grade: A- (because I still signed on for a couple things). 

I have to remind myself that goals are there to push you, but not to be gargoyles looming over you, howling "oh look, you failed! BWAHAHAHAHA! Why did you even bother to try?" Shut up, inner gargoyles. 

Overall, I am trending upward. Which is progress, especially since I tend toward the obsessive (um, like all my years of infertility treatment and adoption goals and initiatives and pushes to the brink of reason). 

And I'm totally mad that good intentions = COVID.  This variant, while "milder," is insanely contagious. Maybe we should pull back on the social community stuff for a little while, lonely as that is.