A Year of Thanks

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a thrilling/nerve-wracking/what-am-I-doing endeavor February 22, 2012

Filed under: favorites,work — courtsbrogno @ 1:43 pm

Naps are good. I love them. Usually I love them because I get a few more hours of sleep in the day, and nothing feels better than curling up on my bed, in the sunlight, and dozing off for an hour or so.

But sometimes naps provide inspiration via dreams.

Or so I’ve been told. It’s never really happened to me unless you consider a dream of me making out with Jeff Tweedy inspirational (and in a way, it is inspirational, but also hugely disappointing once I awake).

But then something happened the other day. I was taking a nap–a really short nap, I think I had only been asleep for about 20 minutes–when an idea came to me. A good idea. An inspiration.

Well, that’s not entirely true. For a few days I had all these ideas in my head–from President Obama’s State of the Union address to a student commenting on the un-importance of writing due to SIRI to a fan letter I sent–but they were just ideas, things I was thinking about, but during my nap, it all came together: an idea, a creative endeavor.

I’m going to write a book. Non-fiction.Concerning writing and reading.

Sounds boring, doesn’t it?

But it won’t be. In my nap state, everything came together with such clarity. I knew how I wanted to write it, how I wanted it to look, and the overall purpose of it.

The feeling was exhilarating.

But then came the logistics: while I know I can write this, I also know that I’m going to need help, probably from an agent or a publishing group. And not necessarily in terms of money, but more in the ways of making connections. So, I thought. And thought. And thought. And I came to realize:

 I am nobody. It’s true. I have no real ethos for this kind of endeavor, except for a few articles I’ve written and a book that I myself have termed “incredibly shitty.” What I do have is passion and a deeply rooted sense that I can do this. But I doubt I can sell myself on this alone.

So I thought. And thought some more. And I realized:

I am somebody. And I believe in myself and this project. I can do this if I set my mind to it.

And I thought and thought some more and realized that I’m going to need a few chapters written before I start pitching my idea and trying to sell myself as a writer. So I called some friends, and they believed in me, and helped me see the connections I already do have.

So, here I go. An idea I believe in. A hope that some friends can connect me to a few important people. Some time to write a few great chapters. An overwhelming sense of fear that I’ve just added one more thing to my already busy life, but a feeling that it’ll be worth it in the end.

Because I care about the arts and I feel creative and I want to encourage creativity, and for the first time in my life, I really believe in myself and my ability.

Wish me luck.


my new psychiatrist assured me I don’t suffer from any major mental aliments; however, he thinks I’m an idiot February 10, 2012

Filed under: self-discovery — courtsbrogno @ 3:26 pm

I saw a new psychiatrist this morning because I’ve come to despise my old psychiatrist. My old psychiatrist seems to just want to push more drugs on me and never seems quite sure about how to treat me, and I’ve been seeing him for 15 years now. You’d think after all this time, he’d have figured me out.

Let me make one thing clear: I am a perfectly normal and healthy woman, but I do suffer from generalized anxiety disorder and panic attacks. No big deal, especially when compared to the millions of people who suffer from much worse than me. I don’t have depression, I enjoy my life, I am able to work and take care of my kids. Blah, blah, blah…I’m pretty emotionally healthy. My anxiety is hereditary and it’s a chemical imbalance in my brain. I’ve accepted this.

But, lately, my anxiety has been off the charts, and so I thought it might be wise to see a new psychiatrist (though I’m still seeing my awesome therapist Tom, he cannot prescribe meds).

And this new psychiatrist confirmed what I kind of already thought: my old psychiatrist was basically over-medicating me, thus making my anxiety worse.

None of this is really important to my story though. What’s really important is how my new psychiatrist thinks I’m a complete and total idiot.

Let me set the scene. Because I am a new patient, the new psychiatrist (NP) had to take a complete intake on me. Which seemed super silly to me since I already know what I have and because I know I’m not suffering from bi-polar, schizophrenia, etc. But still, it had to be done. Let me also mention that my NP is Indian and though he speaks perfect English, at times, his accent made it difficult to understand him.

So, he asks a bunch of questions that I have to answer, and here are a few of the highlights:

NP: Please tell me the month, day, year, and where you’re at.

Me: February 2012, ummm, not sure what day it is, haven’t looked at my phone yet, and I’m in your office.

NP: You don’t know what day it is?

Me: I don’t know. Maybe the 9th?

NP: No…what day is it? Monday? Tuesday?

Me: OH! It’s Friday.

NP: Well, that’s good. And while it’s obvious you’re in my office, do you know what town you’re in?

Me: Are you kidding me?

NP: No, not at all.

Me: (give town name)

NP: Good. You know where you are.


NP: What’s 7-100?

Me: 93.

NP: Good, now subtract 7 from 93.

Me: ummm…80 something? Ummm, 82? No, wait. That’s not right. Ummm, actually math’s not my strong suit.

NP: But  you’re a professor.

Me: Yes, but of English, not math.

NP: Oh, OK, can you recite me a line from Shakespeare?

Me: Ummm…(oh shit! I can’t think of anything like this on the spot. Shit. Shit. Shit.). ummm…”fair is foul and foul is fair.”

NP: Good. Now what play did that come from?

Me: Ummm…(shit. shit. shit!!!). The one with the witches.

NP: Macbeth?

Me: Sure.

NP: What about Wordsworth. Do you like him?

Me: Oh yes, I love him.

NP: Can you name me your favorite poem?

Me (oh shit! oh shit! oh shit!). Well, I always loved the one about the nightingale. What was it called???

NP: I believe it was called “The Nightingale.”

Me: (holy shit! does this guy have a Ph.D. in Literature as well? Fuck me.) Sorry, NP, in my defense, I’m a bit nervous.

NP: (looks at me quietly, I’m pretty sure thinking I have no right teaching at a university).


NP: OK, can you please spell the word “wall” (and he gestures around with his hands)

Me: yes (beaming)! W-A-L-L

NP: No, not wall, spell “whirl.”

Me: O.K. W-H-I-R-L (and I smile proudly).

NP: No, not whirl, spell (some word that starts with a W, but his accent is so thick that I’m obviously not understanding him).

Me: World? Do you want me to spell world?


Me: oh, okay: W-O-R-L-D.

NP: Well, we know you can spell.


NP: Do you ever feel agitated by your children.

Me: Hell yeah!

NP: Do you ever want to hurt them?

Me: Sometimes I think of throwing them out the window, but generally no, I don’t want to hurt them.

NP: (silence. looking at me sternly).

Me: I’m just kidding!

NP: Do you ever want to kill them?

Me: Oh God, no, never. I swear.

NP: Well, that’s good.


NP: When you are alone in your room, do you ever hear things?

Me: Yeah, my kids screaming in the living room. And sometimes my neighbors fighting.

NP: No, I mean, do you ever hear people talking to you that no one else can?

Me: Oh. No.

NP: Well, that’s good.


NP: Do you ever see shadows in your vision?

Me: Oh, yes. As a matter of fact, I just had an eye doctor appointment yesterday, and he says that the reason I’m seeing shadows, or as he called them “clouds,” is because my contacts are old and my eyes are tired from reading so much. So I had to get glasses. Which, by the way, were super expensive.

NP: (heavy sigh) No. I mean do you see things that other people don’t see?

Me: Oh, no.

NP: Well, that’s good.


NP: Do you ever worry about the world ending?

Me: Of course. Who doesn’t? Global warming? Nuclear weapons? I worry all the time about the earth my kids are inheriting.

NP: (deeper sigh) No, I mean do you think the world’s coming to an end and aliens are going to take you.

Me: (laughing) No. That’s just ridiculous. I’m way more concerned about the polar ice caps.

NP: Well, that’s good.

In the end:

NP: Well, I have come to the conclusion that you are not depressed, do not suffer from schizophrenia, have no paranoid delusions, though you do have generalized anxiety disorder.

Me: Ummm…yeah. I know that.

NP: But perhaps you should drink more coffee in the morning.

Me: (Holding up my cup of coffee). I do drink coffee, but generally I drink decaffeinated because of my anxiety.

NP: Maybe you should switch to regular.

The End. I’m perfectly normal, but I am a sleep deprived idiot.


super shitty first draft February 5, 2012

Filed under: self-discovery,work — courtsbrogno @ 8:01 pm

I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while, but it’s really hasn’t been on the forefront of my mind.

I finished the first draft of my novel work-in-progress. Like 2 months ago.

There it is. 179 pages, 79,405 words of ABSOLUTE  shit.

But, it’s MY shit, and that makes me proud.

I won’t even begin editing it until the summer, and to be honest, the thought of editing seems more daunting than writing it. There’s just so much to fix.

But, I’m letting it go for now. For now, I know it’s just a really shitty first draft, but that it can get better, hopefully much better. For now, I’m thinking of how I accomplished something I never in a million years thought I could or would. I learned a lot about what it means to be a writer and how difficult it can be and how I know absolutely nothing about the craft and yet, I still did it (Who told me only people with MFAs or PhDs could be writers? Ha. Shakespeare didn’t have an MFA [though let me make it clear that I was not inferring a comparison between me and Shakespeare).

But you know what I learned most of all? I really, really liked the entire process, despite the frustrations. I never saw myself as a writer and now I crave it as my career.

Maybe that’s just a pipe dream, but for now, that thought, that dream satiates me.



growing up February 1, 2012

Filed under: kids — courtsbrogno @ 8:41 pm

Maddie, my almost 13-year-old, middle school kid, is growing up.

I don’t like it one bit.

Because in my eyes, she’s still my baby.

maddie baby

I mean, it seems like it was just yesterday that she was born, and nursing, and attached to my hip as she insisted on being carried everywhere. Even until a few months ago, she begged to still sleep in my bed and fought with Luke to sit next to me on the couch.

But, now she grows. Away from me.

Sure there are still times that she wants to sleep with me and times when she comes up and hugs me, but they’re rare. And I know they’ll become even more rare over the next few (several????) years.

I wish I could say that I’m accepting this like a mature adult, but I find myself throwing tantrums all the time, and behaving more like a toddler.

Inside, that is. On the outside I’m trying to keep it together. I’m barely accomplishing this.

Like today, for instance. I pick Maddie up from school and she gets into the back seat.

“Guess what happened today Mom,” she says, hands clasped together and bouncing in her seat.

“What? You got a 100% on your Spanish test?”

“Noooooooo. I mean maybe. I don’t know yet. Something better, Mom.”

“Maddie, I’m tired; it’s been a long day. Just tell me what happened.”

“I got asked out!”

“What,” I say. “By whom?”


“Well, what did you say,” I ask.

“I said YES!!!”

“You said yes?”

“Yeah, Mom. I really, really like him. I’m so happy!!!!!!!!!!!”

Inside I start panicking. My brain starts searching for answers: Images of locking my sweet baby girl in a closet flashed across my mind. No, I could go to jail for that. Homeschooling!  That’s the answer, I think. Wait. I don’t even have the time right now to check her homework, so how will I home-school her? MOVE!!! Yes, we’ll move away to a different town. A smaller town. A town with no boys!!!!!

On the outside, however, I just calmly say, “Hmmmm. I trust you to make good decisions, and I’m sure this boy is nice [side note: I’ve heard he’s NOT! from an inside source], but I’m in a little bit of shock and I’m not sure how to handle this, so you’re going to have to give me 24 hours to let me absorb this because, you see, in my eyes you’re still my baby, and this is hard for me–you growing up. BUT, I’m really glad you told me.”

I think this was honest and mature. But since then, I’ve picked apart our conversation and thought about what to say tomorrow, but I keep sticking to one thing that’s really bothering me:

She said, “I got asked out.”

Maybe it’s the feminist in me, but really? It just seems so passive. I know, I know, this coming from me who didn’t–and said over and over I can’t and I won’t–want to ask out a man. But I have had self-esteem issues. Maddie does not.

Or does she?

See, this is what’s bothering me.

In a bit of weird irony, tonight Maddie finished reading Jane Eyre, and she came downstairs to talk to me about it. I took this as the perfect opportunity to teach without preaching.

“Let’s talk about the ending, Maddie,” I said.

“No, let’s talk about the crazy wife in the attic,” she said.

“No, that’s sooooo boring,” I lied. “Let me read you my favorite line: ‘Reader, I married him.'”

“Um, that’s your favorite line?”

“Maddie, Jane is a feminist! She didn’t wait for someone to come rescue her, did she? Did she wait by the fire for someone to ask her out? No. She said NO to men!”

“Well, she said no to St. John, but she did say yes to Mr. Rochester.”

“O.K., she did. But she was a strong woman! She’s my hero Maddie. She should be yours.”

“I’m just glad she’s rich and married in the end.”

Reader, I let it go.

I’m going to bed with the intent of letting it all go for the night.

By tomorrow I will have a plan of how to deal with Maddie having a boyfriend (this is so difficult for me to even say aloud let alone type) that will be fair and goaded by trust and honesty.

I will grow up.

Because Maddie sure is.