Submitting to agents!

So, I haven’t sent out all my queries yet, but I’ve done maybe half of them. I should be done within a day or so. I still need to put some effort into the synopsis. But anyway, I got an email back from an agent today, and it was really sweet. The agent apologized for being unable to consider my materials, saying she’d been injured recently and is therefore unable to take on new clients. She has to spend all her time getting better and helping her existing clients for now.

I wrote back and said, oh no, that’s dreadful, injuries are scary, please get better soon, and take good care of yourself. And she wrote back and thanked me. This is good. I think I’m at a place in my life where agents seem less scary to me. That might mean I’ll be more likely to find one!

Over the years, the first few times I submitted to agents, I felt scared and intimidated. At the time, I still had a lot of paranoia and no friends to help me counteract the paranoia. I’m in such a better place now, so I’m feeling hopeful! Of course, it’s easy to say as much before the real rejections start rolling in. [Eyeroll.] But of course, rejections are part of the game. I don’t think there’s a single author in existence who was never rejected at least once. That would be quite a story. “I submitted my first novel to my first agent, and my book was snapped up right away,” said no one ever. That’s the stuff of urban legend.

One thing I’m looking forward to are the local fish fries during Lent. My dad and I go to them every year. They have great food, nice people whom we sometimes talk to, and a cake wheel. (It’s all about the cake wheel.) Gambling on winning a cake makes me feel connected to the people around me in a nice setting. I mean, people of all ages get into this, from kids to old people. It’s a hoot. And the food is great. I always get fried shrimp with fries, and a second serving of fries. Tea, sweet or unsweet (I combine them to make it less sweet than sweet tea) is free. We aren’t Catholics, but during fish fry season, we may as well be. (I think it’s similar to Episcopalianism, but with saints. And who doesn’t love saints? I grew up attending a very welcoming Episcopalian church.) The community is accepting and welcoming, and it’s nice to watch a huge amount of kids scamper about, having fun in their Catholic-school uniforms. Very family oriented and pleasant, and the parents are always nice to their kids. Oh, and little boys wearing boy scout uniforms will come up to us and ask if we’re done with our trays. How adorable is that?! I love helping the young people of today earn merit badges. (Holy flip, how old am I?!)

So it feels like a lazy day here, but I’ve got a lot on my to-do list. I slept around twelve hours last night, and I awoke feeling like I needed it; the best way for me to fend off exhaustion is to sleep and sleep, and my mom must’ve done a number on me a few days ago, so I’m tired. It’s also the time of year. But this weather is just great, and I love it! It’s been cold but not below freezing too much. Sometimes even springlike!

I’m so excited for springtime that there aren’t even words. It’s a wonderful reawakening to being outside, exercising (yeah, even me), and getting lots and lots done. Woo hoo!

 

Meg’s still angry! (And who wouldn’t be?)

I slept late today, until 1:30, and had a hard time surfacing. I kept falling back into dreams. In particular, I dreamt my brother was living in our spare room in the basement, and for whatever reason, I was sleeping in his bed. And he’d catch me and say, “What the hell are you doing, sleeping in my bed?” And I’d have no answer.

I learned dream interpretation, so let’s see what that dream means… well, it’s rather arcane, but it’s my subconscious way of letting me know that I could’ve relaxed yesterday without bingeing on junk food and other excess. Basement = unconscious mind, i.e., unawareness. Brother (in my case) = my tendency to try to eat healthy, which I admire. (A sibling = an aspect of your mind that you’re familiar with, and that pertains to said real-life sibling. My brother is a freakishly healthy eater whom I admire.) Being in bed = my efforts at relaxation which, in real life yesterday after my ordeal with Mother, involved binge eating cake and fried chicken. So the side of myself that admires my brother’s healthy eating was mad at me for binge eating and blaming it on my overwhelmedness instead of staying present and making healthier choices.

I have to admit that I could’ve held off on the excess, but I was so damned stressed that it wasn’t even going to be attempted. I was like, you know what? I’m dying inside, and I need cake. Period, end of story. I’m not mad at myself, but it’s going to set back my weight-loss efforts, obviously.

Fortunately, today, after eating the second half of yesterday’s cake, I ate a healthy salad with grilled chicken strips for dinner, which is a great sign. It shows I’m falling back onto habits of eating a healthy dinner that I’ve worked hard to put into place. Go me! And then after dinner, I started a new habit of taking some liquid ginger supplement in an effort to suppress my appetite for the rest of the day. I’m hoping that dinner can be the last food I eat before bed. If it doesn’t work tonight, though, it won’t be a huge deal. I doubt I’ve gotten enough calories today, even with the cake. I doubt ginger can overcome massive hunger. But by tomorrow, I can try the ginger after a day of normal eating. (There’s no more cake.) So we’ll see how it goes.

Also today I’ve been working on my submissions, and I’ve started sending them out! I might be able to get it all done within a few days. My spreadsheet is finally being put to good use. I’m submitting thus far to all the agents who don’t request a synopsis. I’m still working on my synopsis, so it’s not yet ready to go, but it should be ready within a day or so. And then I’ll circle back to the other agents. It’s not hard to write a synopsis; it’s just tedious because you have to list every single scene in the whole book and condense it into a page or two. In theory, I should already have one ready lest an agent should write and say, “I loved your query! Can you send me your synopsis?” But if push were to come to shove, I could have one completed in two hours, tops, and email it to the agent at that time. So I’m not sweating it. (Plus, that only happens in my fantasies.)

I got my flavor syrups in the mail today. I shop from Monin’s website. They have probably over a hundred flavor syrups. My dad gets me unsweet tea from local restauraunts, and I flavor it with the syrups. This time, I chose wild raspberry, wild blackberry, wildberry, wild strawberry, and black raspberry. They all smell divine, but maybe I should’ve gone for more variety! Aside from the wild strawberry, the other four are quite similar. Oh well. I like them, so that’s what counts!

They also have coffee-themed flavors, for any of you coffee lovers out there. And there are cocoa flavors: chocolate-chip cookie, coconut, vanilla, caramel, dark chocolate, etc., all of which nicely complement cocoa. And their cucumber flavor goes great with lemonade. They also have flavors you could put into bottled carbonated water, with which to instantly make your own soft drink. (Hint: try peach and vanilla combined.) Each large bottle is around twelve dollars, with free shipping over twenty-five dollars. I found an online promo code and got all five flavors today for forty-eight dollars.

I’ve been doing better with my spending as well. I’ll be in good position if Mother pays me the two-hundred dollars she darned well owes me for yesterday. While walking with my dad today, he remarked, “I really think two-hundred dollars is a bit cheap for what you did yesterday.”

“You’re right. I should charge her five-hundred dollars,” I muttered.

“No, I said two-hundred dollars is a bit steep.”

“What?!”

Within three seconds, he regretted saying as much. I went on a tirade in which I reminded him of every single bullet point in my recent post. Pretty soon, as I got louder and more carried away, you could tell he wished he hadn’t said anything. [Eyeroll.] No way was I going to let him think that Mommy shouldn’t have to pay for her evil ways. And she made me drive her home (and then drive myself home) during rush hour in the rain, which puts me in a dangerous position of praying I won’t crash. And if I had crashed? Whose fault would it have been? There would be bills that would make two-hundred dollars look piddly. Healthcare bills. Car repair bills.

But I owe my dad some money this month, and if he wants to collect it, he’ll darned well tell my mom that she owes me two-hundred dollars. (I’m not currently speaking to her for obvious reasons.)

One thing I hate about my dad is how he plays both sides of the fence. He probably comforts my mom by saying, “You know Meg can’t handle too much exertion. She’s mentally ill, and it overwhelms her,” which is worthy of facepalming. I could’ve successfully taken a well-behaved person to the doctor yesterday without shutting down from the stress. So essentially, what my dad’s saying to her is, “You can only bully her so much without it completely blowing up in your face, so you ought to tone it down and enjoy getting a few good zings at her without aiming for overkill.” And that attitude is unconscionable. I’m not anyone’s voodoo doll. I am, however, my mom’s crazy toy, and I always have been.

Wow, now I’m angrier. Yep, my dad had better get that money from my mom, or otherwise he won’t be getting it at all.

See, I work within the confines of my stress by, in this instance, taking Mother via the long route to the doctor’s and by planning on bringing her here for dinner to avoid rush hour traffic. She finds ways to circumvent my safety measures for her own entertainment. Like that tantrum she threw, when she insisted I take her home in rush hour? I should’ve left her on the side of the road. She’d be crying elder abuse in two seconds. What I really should’ve done was to bring her home and then make her my dad’s problem. He could’ve taken her home at that point, and I’d be spared the rush hour. This is why I think my dad should advocate for me with my mom–when I’m taking her to the doctor, or taking her home, he isn’t. Oh well.

 

 

Emotions and regrets.

Dear Mesmerizing Meg: I have so much pent-up emotion. How can I release it? It’s from deaths of loved ones and not being able to discuss it with anyone, because I come from an old-fashioned family where it’s all stiff upper-lip. I carry on day to day and nobody would suspect I am so sad. Plus I don’t want to burden my lovely friends who all have equally hard things to deal with. But it is eating away at me. 

Kind querent: I have two suggestions. The first is to ask to speak to your school’s guidance counselor and tell her how sad you feel. Maybe he/she could help you with your grief. I really do wish you had someone in real life who you could talk to about these things.

The second suggestion is to blog! It’s such a great outlet for family stuff that you can’t address directly with family.

Also, please burden your friends! That’s what friends are for! If they tell you about their problems, then you can tell them about yours!

I’m so sorry for the family members you’ve lost! That must be really tough.

Dear Mesmerizing Meg: How do you forgive yourself for doing bad things whilst mentally ill? I was not on medication and did some terrible things. I have five diagnosed mental illnesses and have been hospitalised three times relating to my mental illness. Now that I’m back on medication I feel so much remorse and guilt for the things I did whilst I wasn’t medicated. How to forgive myself?

Kind querent: So many thoughts! First of all, commit yourself to staying on your meds. With five mental illnesses, which is probably about how many I have, you need your meds. Not just today and next month, but next year, and the year after that. Don’t let yourself go off them again. If you want to adjust them with your doctor’s help, that’s fine, but don’t go off them.

How to forgive yourself? I’d apologize to everyone you hurt and explain that you were unmedicated, for which you take full responsibility and regret. Ask how you can make amends.

Beyond that, it’s just life. So please don’t beat yourself up eternally!

 

Ugly ducklings!!

Dear Mesmerizing Meg: I’m a thirteen-year-old female. I know I’m still so young and I “shouldn’t care about looks” or “it’s about personality” etc, but EVERYONE else at my school is just so much prettier than I am. And I just feel so bad whenever people see me, and they see how ugly and unattractive I am. The other reason I don’t listen to “looks don’t matter” is because of how judgmental people are. I feel so insecure and lonely at school because I’m the odd one out. The ugly one. Again, I know I’m only young but everyone has a boyfriend/girlfriend in my year and I literally do not know the point of living if I’m not even pretty. I can’t help stop comparing myself to the other girls. I’m not trying to get attention or praise, and I don’t want people saying, “you’re pretty too,” because you’ve never seen me. Everytime I see myself, I feel disgusted. I hate myself so much. And it especially sucks when I’m in a good mood and then I look in a mirror and remember how bad I look. I’m insecure about everything about myself, it’s not just one bad flaw about me, it’s my whole face and body. Nobody actually cares and really I don’t know the point of writing this. I guess it kind of gets it off my chest. (I’ve even had suicidal thoughts about this, no one will really care because I’d be remembered as “that ugly [bleep] anyway.)

Kind querent: Oh my. I have three thoughts for you. The first is that you’re at your ugliest at the age of thirteen. It’s total ugly-duckling territory. You should’ve seen what a dog I was in seventh and eighth grades. I’m not kidding. Ninth grade wasn’t much better. Then, in tenth grade, I suddenly had a gorgeous school photo taken. It was amazing! I must have washed my hair for the photo that year. Anyway, yes, it seems frustrating that the other kids are going through the difficult teenage transition while still looking lovely, and it’s not fair, but please believe me that you might be pretty yet.

My second thought is that you should discuss this with your mom, and ask her if she can take you to get your hair radically redone. You ought to consult a beauty stylist and find out what color of hair would complement your coloring. This is huge: I’m a natural brunette, but I look butt-ugly with brown hair. Every time I bleach my hair, I feel so much prettier because it just works with my skin tone and coloring! Also, if your mom can throw in manis and pedis, some new clothes, and a spa day, then she can be my new hero.

My third thought is that if you don’t like your body, maybe you could take up a sport and get more muscular? Have you considered swimming?

Also, your personality really does come through your appearance. Some of my favorite comediennes aren’t all that pretty. Instead, they’re funny looking! Rachel Dratch, pictured below, is who I hope will play me in the movie about my life! (Assuming Drew Barrymore’s unavailable.)

 

 

 

The biggest narcissist in Louisville.

My mother, ladies and gentlemen, is a [bleep]. For those of you who followed my old blog, I’m sure I don’t need to convince you. These were her antics (in short-list form) from today, when I went to take her to her doctor’s appointment:

  • She harassed me about  my birth name, [M-word]. She had an old social security card of mine laying out on her mantel with [M-word] on it instead of Meg. I told her it could be shredded because I have a newer one at home with Meg on it. She said, “Yes, I guess you had to call social security and get it changed, right?” And I told her how awful the lady on the phone was when I called, and how she kept gushing, “Oh, my, but [M-word]’s such a beautiful name? [M-word], [M-word], [M-word]. Why would you want to change your name from [M-word]?” And my mother said, “Oh, my poor, sweet, immature daughter. That woman wasn’t being mean. She was making conversation.”

I should have fled her condo at that moment, but I’d promised to take her to her appointment.

  • During the drive to the office, she kept asking if I’d heard from Teri, my brother’s ex-girlfriend. And she knows from past conversations that it’s a sore subject for me. Teri’s pretty much disappeared from my life. So my mom was like, “Do you ever hear from Teri?” And I said, “No,” rather pointedly. And she said, “Oh? Has she stopped having anything to do with you?” And I said, “Yes,” again rather pointedly. And she said, “Oh, alas, alas, it’s so sad. I really cared about her. I should call her.” And I rolled my eyes. Teri was too nice to ever let Mother know she didn’t like her (and God bless Teri for trying), but she would not want to hear from Mommy now. Who would?
  • So then, she noticed that I was going the long way. This was strategic on my part to keep my stress levels down and not have to do scary merges with Mother in the car. So she made this sly insult about it. “Oh, you’re going this way? I thought you’d take the expressway.” I muttered something about how that wasn’t going to happen.
  • Then we reached the doctor’s office, and I found a parking spot. Guess who wasn’t pleased with the parking spot and insisted I park closer? If you guessed my mom, then you’re correct. As soon as I backed out of my parking spot, another driver swooped in and stole it. Why? Because there were no closer spots. And I was about to crash into the parked cars behind and around me as I struggled to back out.
  • She crept at a snail’s pace into the office and insisted on holding my hand. She knows about how toxic her energy is to me, and she knows how polluted I get by feeling her. Often, she laughs and tries to force me to hug her, and I have to flee. She’ll laugh harder, as if it’s cute of me to be against hugging her. But anyway, we finally got inside.
  • There was a meltdown at the sign-in kiosk. Now, granted, a sign-in-kiosk at the doctor’s office is about the stupidest thing imaginable, but my mother deliberately chooses healthcare providers who will add a bit more drama to her day. It’s very skillful of her. My eye doctor has a small office, no crowds, no wait, no ridiculous kiosk. Her eye doctor is hidden in the back somewhere behind twenty receptionists who aren’t busy signing anyone in. Instead, they’re just sending everyone to the kiosks.
  • My mom picked a kiosk with a line, choosing to reject the nearby kiosk that was free. It was a mere three feet farther away, people. The man at the kiosk finished up and sat down, and I approached it with her. She had to get out her driver’s license and her insurance card to be scanned. This was the start of the meltdown. She couldn’t get her purse opened to find her cards. They were in her tight wallet pouch, which was in an obscure and zipped-up pocket of her purse, and she couldn’t tug them out. Somehow, the moment passed without tears. I got her signed in, at which point she didn’t believe she was signed in. She started pestering me. “How can they know I signed in? I never told them my name.” I just ignored her and sat down far, far away in the corner.
  • She didn’t join me, instead choosing to harass the unoccupied receptionists with questions about the kiosk. Then, another woman called her over, so Mother waved for me to join her. It was the person whom you pay. She asked for Mother’s copay and for a small payment that apparently isn’t covered by insurance companies. This was where the second meltdown occurred. (And I’m not counting all the tears that were shed in her condo before we left, although I now see them as portends of doom.) She burst into hysterical sobbing because she couldn’t get her damn credit card out of her purse. I parked my eyes in the permanent “up” position and refused to quit rolling them. The payment woman had to get out a huge box of tissues while I stewed.

At that point, Mommy got called back, and I got the hell out of there. I was supposed to pick her up an hour and a half later, which I did.

  • Upon returning, I found her with a young man who was helping her try on readers eyeglasses. She asked me to pay for her, so I took her credit card and went over to his desk while she sat in a waiting area. I don’t remember how it happened this time, but she wound up standing next to me at the guy’s desk, sobbing her eyes out. “Where’s my prescription?” she wailed. “I don’t know where it went. Oh why, God, why?” I groaned and held it up. “You have it?” she sobbed. I nodded. “What about my receipt? Do you have my receipt?” I raised my other hand, which held her receipt. She made a huge fuss about getting them put into her purse, and then we left, walking away at a snail’s pace.
  • We got out to the parking lot, and Mommy lamented that it was raining (it was a light rain) and that she didn’t want to get all wet. At this point, my normal good manners had flown the coop, so I told her rather abruptly that she was darned well going to get wet, and I didn’t care. So then when we got outside, she refused to step off the curb on her own. “You can do it!” I cried out as I rushed over to unpark my car. No, she couldn’t do it. I hardly understood the issue. I thought she meant she didn’t want to wait on the curb herself, because I was exhausted and confused. So at any rate, I drove over to pick her up, and she appeared to be facing away from me. So I honked. (She was two feet away… on the curb.) No response. I honked again. No response. A kind passerby pointed to my car and told Mommy that I was honking at her. “I can’t step off the curb!” she wailed. “Oh, I have no one to help me.” This man helped her into the car.
  • I started driving. At this point, the plan was for me to bring her here for dinner. My dad made chili, and I’d spent a week cleaning the house. She was meant to finally meet my pup, Big Woof. But I was royally pissed off. “You owe me two-hundred dollars for today,” I said, “and eighty-seven dollars reimbursement for the stuff I shipped for you.” She got angry and accusatory. How dare I snippily ask her for money?! “Just take me home,” she wailed. “And tell me all about how horrible I am.” I did take her home, even though it meant driving across town and back in the rain during rush hour. I didn’t tell her how horrible she is, because I almost crashed trying to merge onto the highway.
  • She asked if I had the tracking info for the stuff I’ve shipped. I told her yes, and that I insured her Mary Lou Hess collection for a thousand dollars. (She’d begged me to ship it carefully.) She freaked out. “What?! Why’d you waste my money like that? Her artwork is irreplaceable.” Well, at this point, if her artwork doesn’t get delivered, she’s not getting the thousand bucks. Oh, hell, no. That’ll be Meg’s money. I did, however, tell her that her favorite artist has a web site from where you can order her prints. [Eyeroll.]
  • She sobbed some more and said, “At least show me a little sympathy!” I told her I had shown her a little, and that was hours ago. She wailed, “You haven’t been  brain-damaged and had strokes and grown old!” I didn’t flinch. The thing about my mother is that she’s been a chronic victim and energetic vampire for my whole life. The old-age excuse is just that–an excuse. And not a credible one by any means.
  • Then, after I dropped off her sorry [bleep], I braced myself to drive home under the bad driving conditions. (I don’t do rush hour.) While I was driving home, Mommy preemptively called my dad and acted concerned about me, as if I’d been having a bad day and projecting my issues all over her. My dad bought into it hook, line, and sinker. Until I got home and set him straight. I was so upset I couldn’t eat even a bite of his chili. He wound up buying me chocolates.

I told my dad about the ordeal as he ate his chili. He said, “I’m glad it was you and not me. I’d rather take a beating than have to escort your mother to the doctor.” Given my violent, abusive childhood, it was hard to believe he could mean that, but there you go.

We discussed how frantic she is over having not yet received her social security tax document for last year. I told my dad that she’d had her Louisville mail forwarded to New England, and her New England mail forwarded to Louisville, thus perplexing the post office into not knowing what to do with her mail. And furthermore, her home health aide left right when I arrived today, so why couldn’t she have taken Mommy to the doctor? My mom magnificently manufactures all this garbage because she enjoys destroying me for kicks. You know why? Because she’s a [bleep]. Oh well.

ADHD and bullying.

Dear Mesmerizing Meg: I have a four-year-old son who has ADHD. I get calls all the time from his school. What are some ideas to help me at school or at home? 

Kind querent: Aside from whatever his doctors recommend, I’ve always believed that boys with ADHD could benefit from martial arts. Martial arts helps you focus and direct your energy with purpose. If you could get him into some martial arts, that could help him out a lot.

Dear Mesmerizing Meg: My parents got divorced a few years ago, and it was going fine at the beginning, but in 7th grade, a horrible chain of events unfolded. My friends stopped talking to me because I was seen as an outcast due to the divorce, and my brother and dad became very bitter and began attacking me on a mental front on a daily occurrence. At the time I was pretty chubby, I won’t lie, but I was working really hard in school, and couldn’t do anything about it. At first, I’d just put in headphones and ignore it best I could, but it wore me down over the year-and-a-half that it happened for. I had nobody that I could talk to that would just listen, and not tell anybody else about it. That was four years ago, and while I’ve removed myself from my dad’s house, and I’m working on getting out of my mom’s fast as possible, I find myself emotionless for long expanses of time. Midsentence, I’ve found myself just losing all interest in anything, and just setting my head down and saying nothing. I can’t keep up a stable friendship at all. Everything just sorta lost its interest, no matter what it is. I think it’s has something to do with my brain just shutting off so I can’t feel the same way I did a few years ago, but I don’t really have any education in the field. If anyone’s had this sort of question in the past, please provide me with some advice on how to get myself feeling better? And I also request that you don’t attribute it to my age. I’ve had too many people do it in the past.

Kind querent: Yes, it sounds like you’re dissociating. That’s the word for when you “check out” midsentence or feel emotionless: dissociation. You started checking out with your headphones, and now you’re in the habit of doing it regularly. (It’s absolutely not your fault. A lot of people who have suffered struggle with maladaptive coping skills.) I’m so sorry for what you’ve been through. It doesn’t matter how much you weighed–there’s no excuse for people to have bullied you about it. That’s terrible. Never blame yourself.

I’m shocked that your friends bailed on you because of your parents’ divorce. I was in eighth grade when mine divorced, and my friends were supportive. I’m so sad that you had mean friends. It really breaks my heart for you.

I wish you could get counseling somehow. Do you have anyone at all who you can talk to? What about your school guidance counselor? You didn’t say anything bad about your mom except that you want to move out of her home. Is she emotionally available at all? Are there any nearby church or youth groups you could join? Sports teams? Extracurricular activities? Hobbies? Please try to get involved with something, and please try to find someone to talk to. I wish you the best!

Oh no, detention!

Dear Mesmerizing Meg: Today I had English. I messed about in class, talking, throwing paper around, etc. My teacher said that unless I started to behave I would be punished. I ignored this and carried on, tallking and messing about, and my teacher gave me a last warning. Again I carried on talking; she then said DETENTION this friday 315pm — 5pm. As this is my first detention, I had no idea it was for so long! We have to sit at our desks in TOTAL silence and write punishment essays. I have to write a 4 page essay on why its so important to behave in class. I said sorry to my teacher and explained if I had known how long detention was, I would have behaved, and because of that and the fact I have said sorry I should be let off. She said NO NO NO I will be punished and I need to learn that if you break the rules or misbehave you will be punished. I think I should be let off and given another chance. What do you think? ~Bad Girl Elizibeth

Kind bad girl: Thanks for asking! I think that your goose is cooked. You are so busted, and you’re headed straight to detention!

It was so nice of you to apologize to your teacher, and I really admire you for doing so. Now, show her how sorry you are by going to detention and writing the essay. And please, for the love of all that is holy, while you write the essay, capitalize your I’s. It took me forever to change all your lower-case i’s into upper case ones for my blog! Gracious!

Think about this from your teacher’s perspective: she has to manage about twenty or thirty kids at once, and she has to spend the hour on her feet teaching you guys, and she has to resist the urge to throttle miscreants like you who act up. You know what she could’ve done to you? Defenestration–the act of throwing wayward children out the window. But being nice and kind, she gave you detention instead. Maybe make your essay a four-page extended apology and promise of future good deeds.

In all seriousness, teaching is extremely hard work. It takes a lot of extroverted, social energy that most people just don’t have. It can be really grueling. Imagine if you’ve been put in charge of a classroom of Kindergarteners, and it’s up to you to get them all to do something. It’s that hard!

I know you didn’t realize detention would last for so long, but at least it’s not held in a torture chamber. And it wasn’t really your teacher’s responsibility to let you know how long detention would be. But you can do it! And please behave yourself in the future!

It won’t seem that long, but pack a book in case you get done with your essay early. Your teacher will probably let you read it.

The Age of Aquarius!

Dear Mesmerizing Meg: Why do I have the birthday blues? It’s feels like it’s just another day. I’m genuinely confused as to why I feel so neutral and “meh” about my birthday which is tomorrow, and I’m turning eighteen. This has been happening for a couple years now (this is the worst one though) and I really hate the feeling, as if the day is almost insignificant. I guess it’s like a feeling of gloominess/disenchantment. I don’t really want to blame the people around me because I know you can’t be dependent on them for your own happiness in this specific context–hyping me up for the day and making me feel special–so I really think it’s more of a personal issue. I understand that once you feel good and excited within, then that’s all you really need. The problem is to just get to that point. I truly don’t want to be full of regret in the future for not at least trying. It is a personal milestone/momentous day. Hope this all doesn’t come across as being self absorbed!

Kind querent: Oh my! Turning eighteen is hardly just another day! Now you get down and you get funky. I insist that tomorrow be all about you!

I think birthdays and major holidays tend to feel blah to a lot of people. The way to fight it is to have fun plans scheduled! Will there be cake? Balloons? Dining out? Presents? Party hats? If not, it’s never too late to get prepared!

Also, you’re putting a lot of pressure on yourself to push past this, but I truly believe we aren’t 100% responsible for our own happiness. To some extent, we are indeed influenced by our loved ones, and I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that! I hope everyone makes you feel special tomorrow! Happy birthday!

Procrastination!

Dear Mesmerizing Meg: I have three F’s. I know I procrastinate, but every time I sit down to do my homework, I have to battle myself to even do it. It’s the part of the day I look forward to the least. I can’t study–same issue. I’d rather watch paint dry. I hate myself for it, and it’s keeping me in this horrible endless cycle of self-destruction. It really started when my parents divorced. But then, when I was doing better with that, my grandma died, then my grandpa was sick, then he died, and now we’re here. I know it’s just excuses. I know what I should be doing, but how??? How do I just sit the [bleep] down and do it? How do I make myself do this? When I could be, and want to be doing, anything else? I don’t want to retake classes, or go to summer school, or not graduate. I need my grades up. Any advice on how?

Kind querent: This is a random shot in the dark, but are you taking any psychiatric medications? They can have side effects that make it hard to focus. If you were put on some when your parents got divorced, it would explain a lot. If I’m right, don’t just quit taking your meds. Going cold-turkey can be hard on your body. Instead, discuss it with your parents and have them arrange for you to see your psych doc soon.

If you aren’t on any meds, then you might want to take an ADD screening. (Who knows?)

If all that fails, then I’d recommend the tried-and-true method of breaking your homework into manageable chunks and telling yourself, “I’m only going to do the math homework now, and then I’ll take a quick break.” Make a goal sheet on the fridge of everything that needs to get done, and as you accomplish one task, give yourself a star! It might help to shift from schoolwork to entertainment (like video games or whatever you do for fun) back to schoolwork in alternating bursts. Good luck!

Pass the food!

So, I’m starving. I’ve been awake for six hours, and I’ve already eaten two Luna protein bars and two brown rice cups and half a package of precooked grilled chicken strips. So what gives?

Watching my caloric intake has caused an unforseen problem: hunger. I’m not interested in starving myself to death, but if left to my own devices, I’d need around 2,400 calories a day to feel full. But I can’t lose weight eating 2,400 calories a day!

I’ve shifted to healthy foods. I’ve been eating loads of the aforementioned foods as well as oatmeal with nuts, barbecue chicken pizza (no fatty meats), high-protein waffles that I cook with my waffle iron, etc. I still sometimes get crazy cravings for junk food, but not all the time. It’s frustrating, though, dealing with the hunger, which could lead me straight to an unintended binge. But even if I do binge, I’m still ingesting less calories, because I used to just eat all the time.

But I’ve already ingested 1,000 (albeit healthy) calories today, and I’ve only been awake for six hours. What to do?

I think I can make the high-protein dark chocolate waffles for dinner. That’s another 800 calories, which’ll bring me to 1,800. But it won’t take. At some later point, I’ll again get hungry, which I know, because I’m famished right now. My stomach is having actual hunger pains.

It might be hard to regulate because my activity level is inconsistent. I spent hours deep-cleaning the first floor yesterday, and today I’m tired.

One small-scale study has shown that ginger can help suppress appetite, so I’ve ordered some in tincture form to take mixed in water a few times a day. It probably can’t hurt. I’m feeling fully committed to losing the weight this year, but it’s hard to hit a roadblock that isn’t your own fault. Hopefully the ginger will help.

I don’t feel like making the waffles right now, so I guess I’ll eat another Luna protein bar. That’ll ultimately bring me up to 2,000 calories, but what are ya gonna do? I hunger.

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