Sunday, August 24, 2008

The cone of uncertainty

Chris has been out of town for two weeks now, and I've only been able to talk to him for a few minutes a day. He won't be back for another week. That's why when I heard about Tropical Storm Fay (now a tropical depression - yipee!) coming towards us, I panicked about what to do. I've never been home for a severe storm by myself, and I was hoping that the cone of uncertainty showing up right over us on the hurricane tracking screen was indeed uncertain.

By the way, I must say that I love the term "cone of uncertainty." At a time when all the passion and the danger has been stomped out of words "cone of uncertainty" remains unchanged and effective at describing what it's talking about. On a weather forecast screen the cone of uncertainty covers the area where weather dudes predict that the eye of the storm might pass. The coolest thing about this term is that if the dudes are wrong that's ok because the "cone of uncertainty" is by nature uncertain. So if an irrate news-watching person gets hit with a storm and complains, "Hey! I wasn't in the cone of uncertainty and I was completely unprepared," the weather dude can retort, "I never said that the cone of uncertainty was certain. I promised you nothing!" The only term cooler than "cone of uncertainty" is "cone of death." Oh hell yes. I think when someone came up with that term they were with a few neighbors and said, "How can we make the cone of uncertainty sound more ballsy?" and someone else said, "cone of death." I don't know this for sure, but I think that's what happened. My theory lies within a cone of uncertainty.

Anyway, I ended up calling my sponsor (known for anonymous purposes as Meryl Streep) last night all panicked. Not only was the storm approaching, but I was afraid that I had hurt a friend without meaning to and I was beating myself up about it.

"Gen," she said. "You're being too hard on yourself again. This is a painful, confusing time, and you're taking care of three little kids by yourself."
"I want you to do a couple of things. I want you to make a gratitude list of all the things you're thankful for, and I want you to throw eggs at your back fence. Do you have a back fence?"
"Are you serious? You've done that?"
"Yeah, girl! It helps even if I'm just mad at myself. It smells like hell the next morning, but you know, so what?"

Meryl Streep is insane and I love it.

Then this morning I called my friends Ray and Christina (a sweet couple) because I didn't think I could do all of this on my own. It's crazy you know, just when I think I'm comfortable with myself I find myself in a cone of selfdoubt. Yesterday I even fixed the weed eater by myself and edged the lawn, and I've never used it before! I'm actually NOT a moron! I've been getting up, making breakfast, making sure that the kids are fed, teeth are brushed, rooms straightened, getting them off to school, helping them with their homework, writing, making sure that Christopher doesn't just play video games all day while his sisters are gone, running errands, getting exercise, seeing a therapist plus going to Al-anon meetings to unravel the mess in my head, having light three minute conversations with Chris during which we talk about nothing relevant, and so on and so forth. I've been trying hard to keep everything together and not lose it. And this morning I cracked.

Christina said that I was doing too much to throw harsh crticism on top of myself. She said I was doing good, and she and Ray said that they knew I could do it, and that the only person who doesn't see my strength is me, which is why it's important to keep focusing on myself. I'm beginning to despise the term "the cone of focusing on myself."...What? It's not a real term? Well, it should be. And Adult Children of Alcoholics (ACOA's) should be called Children of the Boozers (Cobzer's for short).

Anyway, Christina gave me the same assigment that my sponsor did, only she added that she wanted me to list things I'm thankful for about myself. So here are some things that I thought I would share.

non-me things that I'm grateful for: my healthy, beautiful kids, my dog, swimming underwater especially when the sunshine makes that crystal honeycomb pattern on the floor of the pool, humor, the smell of sweetolive trees, the tropical depression that is not a hurricane, chocolate chip cookies, coffee, the people who brew me coffee at Starbucks, yoga, peace with friends, five people have told me that they love me in the last 24 hours (unprompted!), my al-anon sponsor, and (corny as it sounds) prayer.

me things that I'm grateful for: my physical strength, my intelligence, my maternal side, my kick ass taste in music, my handwriting, my writer's voice, my desire to be a good, healthy, honest person, and my hope that I will become braver, more confident, and know what I want in my life.

I am now going to try to nap and watch some tv. I haven't watched tv in weeks and my brain needs to shut down for a little while.


melissa bastian. said...

Breaking things is sooo stress relieving. As long as they're not your things (that you'll end up being upset about breaking), or someone else's things (that they'll be upset about you breaking)... yeah, it's kinda hard to find appropriate things to break. I wonder what the vegan equivalent to throwing eggs at a fence would be? I'll have to think about it. I was a bit nervous about that storm - I was talking to my mom about it yesterday. Of course I was getting my news from her, and she kept telling me it was already a hurricane. Grr. Mothers. And finally: Cobzers. Yes.

biggearhead said...

This may be the first time I've ever seen a term of rejoicing ("yipee!") immediately following the word "depression."

I love "cone of uncertainty." Not living near any body of water large enough to engender fear, this is a new term for me. I think I'll move to a souther coastal area next week just so I can use it more often.

There is much to love and laugh about in this post. I was doing the breathy little "I'm-not-going-to-laugh-out-loud-but-this-is-funny" thing while reading.

Ray said...

Personally I prefer the "Cone O' Tragedy" a thrill ride in which you lose all of the contents of your pockets, which thusly end up in the lost and found because you are way to dizzy to realize you lost them.
see a photo of the ride below.

Remind me that I need to introduce you to this classic game.