Last Friday I had a terrible afternoon. I drove home hating people I used to like and wondered how I could have put up with them for so long knowing what they were like. This Friday I woke up unemployed. Monday was my last day and since then I've been having dreams/nightmares about my old job. Thursday night I woke up sometime during the middle of the night and didn't fall back asleep until after four.

Last Saturday a guy whose wife I know slightly said he knew some people that I could network with in order to get a new job. At the time I was exhausted which is a chronic state for me. I told him and his wife that I wasn't sure I wanted to go back to work at all and if I did I would like to work part time. I honestly didn't expect him to follow up but he did and even went so far as to speak to a friend of his about an opportunity at the company he works with. At the time I remember thinking - this guy is going to an awful lot of effort on my behalf and he doesn't even know me.

The friend emailed me to say he would push my resume to the top of the list when it came through. Since I've been considering leaving my previous job for a while I had an updated version of my resume saved on my dead computer. Friday morning I didn't feel like retyping it and I remember having sent my resume to a friend of mine who had wanted to pass it along.

After I resurrected my old resume, I tweaked it a bit and since I felt like shit I didn't spend as much time proofing it as I should have. There were thousands of things on my to do list but I felt as if I needed a nap. When I woke up I started crying. It was another dream about work that didn't make sense the way dreams often don't and I sent a text to my friend explaining that I felt bad that I had thrown a resume together. She was nice about it, agreed that I should have proofed things more carefully and said that didn't sound like something I would normally do.

I opened my email inbox to find a very nice email that basically said WTF is going on with your resume. I gave the email a quick read, felt like kicking myself and the computer and sent back a reply that restated some points he had made in his original response. For a long time I have been telling people that my life is one big fucked up mess and most of the time people say things along the lines of 'You have it more together than you think you do'. While everyone makes mistakes I wish I wasn't so hard on myself and hadn't picked this opportunity to flake out.

Unfortunately for me neither of these guys know me so to them I look like I'm trying to apply for jobs that are actually below my skill set by using a resume that was cobbled together and reads that way. After my children were born I rode the high for a couple of days until I started falling apart. That's been my m.o. for a while and I think that's just the way I'm wired. Monday was my last day, Tuesday and Wednesday went well. Thursday I went to bed early and Friday all the rage, grief, bitterness and frustration started pouring out.

My friend told me that crying was often a catharsis and it was better to get things out than to let them poison me. Whether it was hormones, pent up emotion or a medley of the two I couldn't wipe away the tears fast enough. When my husband invited me out for supper and to go shopping I packed up the girls and drove into town still crying. I should back up and interject that I got into a huge fight with my oldest daughter when she came home from school.

A friend of hers had been brutally honest with her, that had hurt her feelings and she took that out on me. I finally found her under my bed taking up as little space as she could. I brushed her hair back thinking that it was too bad she was so much like me since I know how devastated hearing what her friend had to say must have been. When I asked if she wanted a snack she nodded. I waited for her to come out from under my bed, held her for a while and in the kitchen I served her a mini meal since I could tell that she needed a good dose of warm comfort food.

Last night we picked out ski boots and skis for the girls. My husband bought me a pair of ski boots and the guy we worked with was really amazing since I've been fitted for boots before and walked out without buying them. The night ended better than the day had began. I went to bed early after a hot bath and woke up with a much better outlook and attitude. That lasted until I saw the guy who had asked for my resume at my daughter's soccer game. He was standing by himself and I could have gone to talk to him but I didn't.

Of course my daughter's team would have to be playing against his daughter's team. He and his wife are both very athletic and from what I've seen their children are gifted athletes as well. This is my daughter's first soccer game and she's better than I thought she would be but still has much to learn. Her coach put her in as a goalie and I was so proud of the way she defended her territory. Two people scored on her, I wasn't sure how she would feel about that but I know how I felt watching the daughter of the man I didn't want to talk to kick the ball right past my daughter into the open goal.

My daughter's coach said that she had done well as a goalie. He said that she was more aggressive than he wanted her to be which kind of surprised me. Normally she's reserved and maybe not actually shy but on the quiet side especially around people she doesn't know. Her coach put her in as a starter which was unexpected. I thought she played well, for her soccer has given her confidence and self esteem some much needed boosts and little things like having a jersey with the wrong name or having people score on her haven't held her back or kept her down.

Apparently we're supposed to take the jersey she has in, pay to get the wrong name removed and pay to have her name put on instead. While this would normally irritate me I am so grateful for the opportunities soccer has given my daughter that I'm going to go in and gladly pay the extra fees that I feel soccer club should cover. I can't understand why we can't request what sizes we want for our children but that is not the way things are handled so for now I have to live with that.

This afternoon I spent some time playing catch and soccer with the girls. After going to her sister's game my oldest now wants to play soccer. I try to be realistic about the abilities of my children so I can tell you that my youngest has a chance at being a decent athlete and my oldest struggles because she hates to run. She's actually more active than her sister and if you get her into a sport she likes, skiing for example, she'll stay out all day without complaint. Watching her catch and throw the ball I see passion for softball. At best she'll be a mediocre soccer player and I'm trying to decide if we should spend the money for her to play or encourage her to play a sport she likes and is motivated to practice.

Friends of mine are struggling with the same issues which helps because we can discuss different options and get feedback from people who are not as emotionally involved as I am. My oldest signed up for band, they gave her the clarinet when she requested the trumpet. Musical ability does not run in my family and again, she wasn't the girl who was willing to practice her piano lessons and my husband let her give up on those when I would have made her stick it out.

Last night we went out to eat as a family. My oldest has a lot of growing up to do. She hasn't learned how to read social cues, if she's bored she lets everyone know and I get tired of her angst which seems precocious at ten. She's a fairly bright child but has contempt for things she doesn't understand and has yet to learn that you can fight city hall but you shouldn't be real suprised if you do not emerge victorious. The last time we visited this restaurant they had to take back an order that had a piece of shrimp sitting on top for decoration. This time I took two bites of my spicy tuna roll before I asked what the crunch was so today I have been dealing with the after effects of ingesting gluten.

For those people who dismiss gluten intolerance I pray that they never get a celiac disease diagnosis. Even if you don't have pain associated with digestion you have to deal with how your body reacts to a substance it can't digest. This has been a mild attack since I had less than a tablespoon of food however it has impressed the importance of taking this seriously upon me. It is really, really, really difficult to try and maintain a gluten free diet when you live in a house of wheat eaters.

We've divided the kitchen up into two sections and the difference between gluten intolerance and celiac disease is the latter is an auto-immune response to gluten where your body starts attacking itself. This leads to many mal-absorption issues that creates more complications. Although I'm much healthier than I have been in the past I am far from where I need to be and based on the extent of unknown damage I may never fully recover what I lost. Hyper-vigilance is your only option, I get so tired of it but the alternatives are worse which is what I need to remind myself.

A lot of people tell me that they can't believe how good I look. People who meet me for the first time don't know what I used to look like which is good except I still feel the way I did about myself in some ways. Until I had glasses I didn't know that other people saw things more clearly than I did. Before diagnosis I had no idea that the way I felt was abnormal because I almost always felt that way. Last night was a potent reminder of how a bite of food can change your life. I woke up with puffy lips, a sore mouth and today has not been good because I need to be in recovery mode.

One of the guy's I used to work with also worked at a vitamin store. He always gave me deals on things I needed, I don't know why I feel scraped raw and nakedly exposed, as if I am a carrot that has been freshly peeled but I can't shake it so I put on clothes, take showers and walk around in my semi-alive haze. When momomom states that celiacs need high fat and high protein diets a lot of people don't understand what this diet is like.

Few people I know complain about not being able to cram enough fat in their diets. It has to be quality fat and that's trickier to obtain than you might suspect. For every one gram of protein I get three grams of fat and half a carb. There aren't exactly foods you can't have but if you work out the ratios you'll find that it is difficult to consume that much fat if you are not accustomed to it. Almost every meal I have consists of some sort of meat coupled with some amazing fat source.

Today we bought a gallon of coconut oil. I can have unlimited quantities of ghee and olive oil. For breakfast I might have roast beef with avocado mayo and a small glass of cream. I'm guessing that my smoothies have about 40-50 grams of fat and what's been kind of cool about this food adventure is the girls have been fairly receptive to the new recipes. Every smoothie gets coconut oil, cream of coconut, roughly half a cup of heavy whipping cream and they don't always turn out exactly the way I'd like but when they do they are glorious.

Years ago I read that children need very high fat diets. That made sense to me and I've never denied them things like butter or whole milk. When my oldest was a baby she had terrible colic. My youngest had to see a pediatric GI doctor and taking her in for testing at Children's Hospital is a day I'm glad is in my past. We went to a doctor who gave me terrible advice. After the Children's visit I spoke with another doctor who was much better but didn't really address things to my satisfaction.

When I think about how sick my kids were I want to go back in time and readjust everything. At six months of age my youngest weighed ten pounds. She couldn't keep hardly anything down and she had ear infection after ear infection, rashes everywhere and she was so happy just sitting there. Recently a friend of mine told me I should start blogging. When I read stories that are similar to mine it helps to know that I'm not the only person frustrated, upset and not sure where to turn to next.

This isn't anyone's fault but I'm furious because I knew something was wrong. I went to see physicians and specialists and they were all happy to take my money but I would like to sue the majority of them for malpractice because I find it hard to believe that I have lived with extremely depleted vitamin and mineral stores without anyone noticing. These should be routine tests that are checked annually. The quality of health care in this country is truly appalling and I am furious that the government can penalize me for not having health insurance.

When I can't do anything about a situation I seek out ways to protect myself and my loved ones. I get all kind of flack from people who think I'm overly fanatic about food additives and preservatives. People give my food strange looks, it makes me laugh when they ask what my beauty secrets are. Typically I tell people that I try to get enough sleep, drink enough water and to stay as active as I can. Most people don't want to strengthen and restore their bodies. They want a quick fix, a miracle pill or the easy way out. I've learned the hard way that there is no such thing but the rewards of being true to what you are and know are tremendous.

Tomorrow my youngest daughter is singing in church. Hopefully I will make it through that service without crying. My sister is bringing my niece over, I am looking forward to seeing them both and so thankful that my husband is financing my unemployment since without his support I don't know what I would do. Our relationship is far from perfect but we're both working on things, him harder than I am since I have to focus on getting better before I can take on other people and their problems.

Tonight I put the girls in bed early. Soccer takes a lot out of my youngest. I put her to bed before eight and let her older sister stay up a bit later. Together we worked on her spelling words before I pulled up her covers. The kitchen counters are not as clutter free as I would like them to be. About half of the laundry is done but the girls bathed, picked out church clothes and we have a breakfast plan together. Things will work out, how I don't know but I actually feel as if I am on the edge of some inner peace I have been seeking.

Until next time,

j

(part seven of Thirty Days in Brazil: Fiber in a Faraway Place)

The concertina wire is getting to me.

It's everywhere. On concrete walls. Wrapped with blossoms. Fluttering with the penants of caught plastic bags. Flecked with feathers. Gleaming in the sunshine of a perfect Brazilian spring day. Company to brilliant graffiti over faceless cement walls. Dew-eyed children crowned in razors. Bending, mask-like faces with staring eyes. Jagged, crude black gang signs on the infrastructure.

Wires. Electrified wires strung three high on prongs of gleaming metal. Thin, almost imperceptible. Bright-roofed houses. Bright-walled houses, sea green and turquoise blue. Folding doors, flowered courtyards, locked away, sequestered silent beside each other. Outside, the natives press cheeks and kiss, as if trying to break down the walls they've built to keep themselves safe from each other and the unknown.

S„o Paulo is a very beautiful, and a very bent kind of city.


Baltimore gets to me too. Baltimore, where they put cinder blocks in the doorways and windows of abandoned rowhouses. Baltimore, where they have issues with people dumping bodies in the buildings if they leave mere boards and windows over the gaping wounds left from doors and glass. Baltimore, filled with begging bums. Baltimore, with toothless women in doorways. Baltimore, where the North side and the East side look like horror movies.

Cranes rising stark against the sky, urban renewal knocking down generations-old buildings, graffiti scarring the rest, cameras perched impotently over stoplights. Rowhouses, scarred with the black slashes of explosions from meth labs.

Baltimore, with the blue lights on every corner, warning: stay away. There is danger here.


Alphaville is a horror in its own way, all cops with machine guns parked just out of sight, brooding in the dark when the tourists and foreign workers are hurrying home (one eye over our paranoid shoulders) from the restaurants. It's too perfect, too palm tree, too strange with McDonalds filled to the brim with Brazilians and the churrascarias stuffed to the gills with Americans.

Then there's the hotel.

The hotel has placed me high up on the top floor, a curving penthouse-esque section where I see no one, not even maids. The lights are triggered: they flicker on in a dim hallway when the elevator door slides open, and as I walk, they pop on one by one, all the way to my room.

To one side, doors. To the other, portholes opening in the wall, providing dim light and a view of the sprawling metropolis, gleaming orange by night and brooding smog-shrouded by day.

As I close the door, I hear them click back off, undisturbed for the next eight hours while I sleep, insensate, in my corporate-paid luxury room. No one passes in the night, and there is no noise to either side of me, no luggage passing in the dim-lit hall.

In the morning, they accompany me, the lights, back to the hotel and down the column of floors to the lobby. As the door slides shut, they flicker off again, leaving my ghost-forsaken floor alone.

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