Step away from the computer…

A long time ago, I had a really successful advertising copy writing business. That is, of course, if you define success as working seven days a week, on vacations, and in maternity wards. And that was definitely my definition. I loved being the go-to word girl. I loved having a client list that any Madison Avenue ad agency would envy. And I really loved the money.

Money money money money money.

I truly believed that the more money I made, the more time I’d eventually have to spend with my family. Because, you see, I would have money, and therefore I wouldn’t have to work. Except, as you probably know and I learned the hard way, it doesn’t work that way.

The more I worked, the more I worked. I didn’t see my husband. I didn’t see my kids. I saw my computer. The day I faxed ad copy to a client from the nurse’s station at Valley Hospital (where my then two month-old son, Cuyler, was recovering from surgery) it dawned on me that I didn’t have a business. My business had me.

I’d like to say that I immediately saw the light and stopped to smell the roses, but that would be a lie. In fact, I didn’t make the decision to “work to live” and not “live to work” until, drum roll please… today. (Cuyler turns 12 next month. I thought it was about time I called a moratorium on mulling.)  In all seriousness though, I recently re-launched my copy writing business and, thank my lucky stars, several of my old clients have come back. My old workaholic habits tried to come back, too, but I put my foot down.

On the grass.

Before I got started this morning, I took a walk in the rain. I brought my camera and took a couple of shots of “the girls.” (I think there’s a guy or two in there, too. Look really closely.)

Then I went in, dried off, and flat-ironed my hair. (Hey, I can’t focus with the frizzies and besides, it delayed my arrival at my desk.) I’ve been here for five pretty productive hours now and I’m about done. Both my boys want back rubs, my man wants company on the couch, and there’s a nice J. Lohr cabernet calling my name. “Suzy, Suzy! Step away from the computer.” Old Suzy would’ve said, “Not so fast, blondie, you didn’t bill enough.” But new Suzy knows better.  

And she’s got the cow pics to prove it.

Living the Glamorous Life

Sometimes I get to go out and have my picture taken with nice people who’ve read my book and sent me nice notes. It’s fun. It gets me off the farm. And that means I don’t have to wash the dogs.

Me and the talented Elizabeth Malinofsky. (I'm the one with the wrinkles.)

But most of the time I get to sit at my desk, reading glasses falling off my face, watching Tug and Grundy mix it up with the moo cows and wondering how the heck I confused the deadlines on two different projects, why a simple headline eludes me, and if the age spot vanishing treatment I treated myself to will actually work on the butt-cheek size blotch on my face.

I doubt it. But if it should surprise me, I’m applying it to the pups. 😉

At least I know I’m not crazy

Allow me to clarify that statement. At least I know I’m not crazier.

Since the end of September, I have been beat. Just exhausted. And that’s not my style. My typical routine is bed by eight or nine at night, up by four.* Clearly, I belong on a farm. I have the internal alarm clock of livestock.**

For the last six weeks or so though, I’ve barely been able to lift my head off my pillow. I sleep ’til six, six-thiry, even seven. I know, you’re laughing at me now.  But if I sleep until five, I’m late. If I sleep until seven, please, check for a pulse.

And when I finally do wake up, with all this extra rest under my belt, am I refreshed? Energized? Ready to work, workout, and work some more? On the contrary. I feel like a sloth. On Seroquel. With a Sominex kicker.

I come down to my desk and can hardly put two words together.

I drag myself to my Jazzercise class with that promise that, if I arrive early, I can catnap in the car before I go in.

I keep that promise.

Then I go in. And I stand there, smiling and making small talk through waves of exhaustion-induced nausea, and praying please, please, please God, don’t let me collapse, or worse, throw up, on the bouncy black floor.

I’m telling you, it’s been bizarre. In addition to my newfound ability to fall asleep anywhere, any time, (including in the Oncologist’s office and in the car on the way to the Oncologist’s office which was really scary because I was the one driving), by lunchtime every day I’ve had a headache. By two or three, my tongue’s swollen and dotted with those damn little pimples that hurt so bad you want to bite ’em off and spit ’em out. And right after that comes a screaming sore throat. I’ve taken Tylenol. Gargled with warm salt water. Consumed shocking amounts of  Chardonnay.***

Nothing helped.

In short order, I added crying myself to sleep to my list of ills. This quickly progressed to waking up crying (at seven, which, as you can imagine, only made me cry harder), which to me meant just one thing: I was crying in my sleep. And as far as I was concerned, this crowning symptom cried, “Get that woman a psych consult, stat!”

“Your meds are fine,” my shrink responded calmly when I called her and not so calmly begged for more of the happy pills I pop daily.

“But I feel awful,” I moaned.

“Susan,” she said soothingly, “you don’t treat a sore throat with Celexa.”

“Wellbutrin then?” I asked, cutting her off. “Or maybe something new, like Paxil. Or Zoloft. I’ve never taken either one of those. What do you think?”

“I think you should call your doctor.”

“But you are my doctor,” I cried. “And I’m not sick. I’m depressed. Do something!”

“Susan,” she said, a little more firmly, “it’s not your medication. Call your doctor and get some blood work done.”

And then she hung up. Just like that. Oh. My. God. I hate tough love. I want to be coddled, and told everything will be alright. In fact, I want it in writing. On a prescription pad. With at least two refills.

In the end, I got a prescription and believe it or not, it starts with a Z. As in Z-pack. I have strep and the tail end of mono. Mono! Maybe it’s some kind of cosmic payback for fantasizing about kissing Brad Pitt. Hell if I know. But at least I do know why I’ve been feeling like crap. And it’s not because I’m crazy.

Hmm. Allow me to clarify that statement… 


*In defense of my odd hours, I have to say I get a lot done in the wee morning. It’s my favorite time to write, roam the Internet to see what Angelina Jolie is wearing, mourn the fact that I’ll never have lips like hers (or hunky Brad Pitt to kiss them), and keep up on stupid celeb and sports star indiscretions.

**And legs like them, too.

***It’s alcohol. Alcohol kills germs. And my thinking is off here… how?

And the wine was wonderful, too

I spent yesterday afternoon at Philip Carter Winery with one of my dearest friends: the beautiful and super smart Jennifer Heyns, author of Bargaining for Our Lives: Navigating the World of Healthcare without Insurance. If you got there, you already know that the music was great, the four-legged family members were out in force (and none of them peed on my boots – a plus!), and the wine was delish. If you didn’t get there, don’t worry; I took some pictures so you could see what you missed…

Jennifer Heyns and Philip Carter

Books and wine. Need I say more?
If I'm holding a dog, you know I'm drinking. 🙂

About the pretty white pup. His name is Pomeroy and he’s one of two Virginia Wine Dogs that blog. How he and his sister see the keyboard under all that hair I don’t know, but I’m guessing they get some human help.

And speaking of human help, Jenn and I got some too. Thanks to Trish and Brian, Adrienne and Michelle, Karen, Janelle, Renee and Chuck, Becky, Michelle, and Cyndi for hanging out with us. And many thanks to Dick and Philip for inviting us in the first place!

Next up for me: the Middleburg Women Networking Luncheon on November 17th.  What to wear, what to wear…