A Simpler Scope

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Our internet was down for a WHOLE WEEK, and I was so damn efficient it was UNREAL!

To quote John Mulaney, “And when we went back…holy shit…”

Whenever my body is in motion its desire it wants to continue moving, and whenever I rest I want to keep resting. Is Newton’s first law in effect, or is it the fear of missing out that attracts me to the sparkly, glowing screen?

I was definitely happier on sabbatical. There was no toxic comparison, no sad realization of “what are my friends doing without me?” I briefly did go on Instagram twice, but my husband had to be home for some bizarre tech data transfer thing that my reptilian brain doesn’t comprehend.* Even then it was right before I lost consciousness and involved zero political conversations or aggravating opinions. Just glorious, filter happy glimpses at the lives of those I love along with all the gemstone accounts I follow–I have a possibly unhealthy obsession with crystals.

That week I watched DVDs, used my two companion dictionary/thesauruses (that I haven’t picked up since 1997 when I was an A+ English student and WriteSource2000 enthusiast), wrote, painted, decluttered, decorated, and organized. I rented Soundbreaking, the PBS documentary series, from the library–and my husband actually freaked out when he found out that I had started episode three WITHOUT him.**

Using DVDs was its own gleeful experience. We’re always vacillating between “we don’t need these” and the extreme sentimental outcry at the idea of purging our collection. “What if the internet stops working? What if the apocalypse happens yet electricity remains functional?” The second one is always me in typical catastrophizing mania, but my husband never reminds me how absurd I sound. SO IT’S OBVIOUSLY A THING THAT COULD MAYBE HAPPEN.

This nostalgia of simplicity settled over our home–no video games before bed, no liking/commenting/emoji reactions.

All of this probably relates to our decision to buy a record player and “invest” in a record collection.

Have you ever noticed how in film and television, humans use record players more often than nearly any other device? Is it because the music was better? Is it the visual intensity and beauty? Is it that sound mixing had hit a peak where musicians could create groundbreaking music since the studio had the ability to make albums like never before?

Obviously, Soundbreaking is influential, but I feel that it’s not any of those. It’s the perfect blend of listener and LP. It’s an intimate relationship. Vinyl demands care like no other format. Meticulous cleaning, proper storage, the act of flipping it over. The irritating fact that you cannot skip songs, you either have to halt the flow by adjusting the needle and disrupting the magic or let it be until the record plays through. That last one means you have to think a lot harder about which albums are really, really worth owning.

My dad, ever accepting of any advance of innovation, sees this hobby as insanity. He was the first to own a DVD player, and always buys the newest phone as soon as the previous version becomes obsolete. But since this is not a shared opinion, he finds other ways to persuade.

“It has limited practicality,” he states on the couch across from it, eyes narrowed. “You can’t listen to a record in the car. You can’t take it with you and play it at a coffee shop. You are forced to stay home.” There’s almost a Green Eggs and Ham rhythm to his reasoning.

“That’s true,” I acknowledge, “but we like our house. I like to put on a record while I do housework.”

My rebuttal captures the permanence and pride of being a homeowner along with the heel-digging of anyone who’s committed to a decision by time and finances (especially that of child vs. parent debate). We’re locked into a long-term dwelling so we need to stand by this decision and enhance its appeal.

Records also keep me in the moment. Watching them turn, listening to the pops the split second before the melody begins when the house is otherwise silent is meditative.

But we do have internet access again, so the task at hand is how to use it without procrastinating and abusing that power. At this point, I have no solution besides limiting my time and pinpointing the moments when I’m just aimlessly scrolling and searching for something the internet cannot provide–meaning.

So wish me luck, dear readers, that I will be able to balance the web against the physical, real world without giving in to the numbness of the easy thing.

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*This is not a gender issue–my family is at opposite ends of the Technology War. Half still live in caves and do not communicate with the outside world except on rare occasion, and the other have microchips in their brains and are the featured humans in every episode of Black Mirror. Also, I’m not caught up on the most recent season, so none of you ruin this for me!!

**He’s not the tv zealot I am, so I often skip ahead without him, and it rarely upsets him.

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Oeuvres in Increments

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I assume this post will go the way 90% of my posts go. Me deliberating and agonizing for YEARS (no, but it feels like that in the moment) until I get fed up with the entire idea of having an imperfect post and then chuck it into “Saved Drafts” where it will dwell for several actual years until I look back at all my failures and permanently delete them.

Which is a great way to start this one, because that’s what I want to talk about today.

My husband recently got into the Malcolm Gladwell podcast, Revisionist History. After weeks of casually dropping it into conversation, today he finally asked if we could listen to an episode he thought I would appreciate. I’m the queen of “you have to hear/watch/read this or nothing I say in the immediate future will make any sense to you, and you’ll dead to me so JUST DO IT!” I’m not great at promoting interests to other people, so I have to do it by force of alienating myself forever by being a dictator about it. This is why I’ve never created a cult, because I don’t think anyone would join based on my sell technique and the lack of success would be too burdensome to bear.

It’s rare to see that obsessed and repetitive attribute reflected back to me. It’s not that I’m always averse to trying new things, I just don’t prioritize them and usually forget about them completely.

The episode is “Hallelujah,” and how it took Leonard Cohen 17 years and multiple artists to transform the song into a hit.

My husband put on the episode and went into the kitchen to tend to some chores. When he returned, he saw me on the couch. Balled up in a fetal position. Hands over face. Sobbing and shaking violently. Probably not the reaction he intended.

Some clarifying light.

My two most prevalent passions are art (drawing, painting, miscellaneous crafting/upcycling) and writing. As most people do, I have a job I go during the day and, on good days when I’m able, create in my downtime.

As a child, I was a great artist. I know that most young humans are shit when it comes to art, but I wasn’t. Between the zen focus I found in creating and the praise I received for barely trying, I truly loved art more than anything. I lived to paint, I dared to draw long hours throughout the day, every day. No one had to tell me to practice; I legitimately wanted and needed to until the project was done or I was too weak to continue.

But reality slapped me hard. It told me that art was only good for profit, and even if I planned on becoming a “starving artist,” I should prep MANY backup careers and focus on those since so many people fail. Time I’d spent drawing early on was interrupted in my teens by homework, friends, chores, and school activities. My proficiency waned.

The year I was diagnosed with a mental and co-existing chronic illness within months of each other broke the camel’s back. I wasn’t improving, I didn’t have time to improve, and as much as I’d been praised in the past, I was now told by society that my talent was a waste of time. I wasn’t getting better, and if I wasn’t getting better there was no chance. There was too much competition, and I wither under pressure. I always have. The only art I created by that point made me irate, because the image in my mind got jumbled on the way to my fingers. I’ve never been a patient person, and now I was losing progress each year in spades.

I quit. I folded and focused solely on writing. It wasn’t treated the same. I could write and still work it into a career somehow. In fact, writing was almost my sole activity in college, so I only got better at it.

A few years back, I re-started therapy. Now with coping skills I had needed and lacked throughout my life, I was able to go back to art. I’d work on something, and if I hated it, I’d make it into something else.

Another thing that helped was Augusten Burroughs’ book This is How. In one chapter, he tells readers his childhood dream was to become an actor. It changed the day he saw himself perform a monologue on video. He was soul-crushingly foul. In order to find his true calling, he examined why he wanted to become an actor. He wanted to form a connection with people. He became an author instead. “Which is the same thing, but I’m better at it,” he wrote. “I don’t feel I gave up on my dreams. I gave up on my choice of vehicle used to deliver me to this dream. I thought it would be a big-ass Ford pickup and instead it was a pale blue hatchback.”

I embraced writing as a kid when I learned that I could tell the whole story in my head that was behind my pictures that no one saw but me. I liked writing because for me, some stories were too long, too intense, too complicated for my art skills. I was able to transcend the venue and achieve the desired results. It felt like a real life hack and still does.

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So why did I start crying at the podcast?

When I went back to art, I promised myself that I would work on patience. I would research the mediums I needed and how to apply them. Through application, I would increase my talent. Limit/corral self-hate. Let the ideas flow. If I screwed up or created something I hated, I could fix it, correct it, or find a new way to make it work. It didn’t mean I had to give up. I wasn’t doing it as a career change. I was doing it for the reason I’d always done it: it made me feel alive. It made life worth living. To do it was to sing the song that was in my soul all day long, not for a penny or a dime but for lifting me up, bringing me higher than I could imagine. Dreaming myself into an impossible dream. Creating a new world, one I belonged in, one where I was queen.

Part of the reason I put art on the shelf was because I didn’t feel like I was good enough. Amanda Palmer calls the doubt one has about their abilities The Fraud Police, and I feel like they’re always coming to take me away.

I’ve never sufficiently grieved for all that time I lost on art. I’ll never be able to make it up. And writing? I’ve been editing the same project for years, and I’m still nowhere close to finished.

Welcome to Waterworld. Population? My face.

So when my husband came in and saw me huddled, flooding my hands with liquid emotions, he wasn’t surprised but he was confused. I explained that I knew how Leonard Cohen felt. You invest time in a venture, something you hope will succeed, but it has to be completed. But it might never be. What if I made it worse? Maybe the world doesn’t like it? Doesn’t notice? Doesn’t care?

I cried into my hands, because all I’ve ever wanted to do was drink in beauty and breathe out the good stuff, that same meditative and ecstatic state that embraces me while I’m constructing. To feel that accomplished wave of happiness fill my heart when I look at my work. Feeling it awaken from years dormant and fly back into my arms–strong and striking.

Art and writing feed my soul. They are my inner expressions fleshed out, more of myself than any self description. Having thoughts that materialize out of nothing? That’s magic. And achieving these ideals even in small spurts? That’s the power of a god.

It’s why I like Siskel more than Ebert. Ebert could crank out a review in ten minutes, but Gene would agonize at his desk for hours. I am Gene Siskel. I am Leonard Cohen. In his own words, “love is not a victory march. It’s a sad and it’s a broken hallelujah.”

Just because art brings you joy does not mean that it always makes you happy. Art is wondrous and full of bliss, but it’s also exhausting and painful. Hemmingway once said, There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit at a typewriter and bleed. He’s not wrong.

After chewing and spitting out a piss poor explanation to my spouse, I added soberly, “I do really like this podcast episode. I relate to it very much.” He said, kindly, “Do you want to take a break, go to the store with me, and pick back up in a couple of minutes?” And I was very grateful for the reprieve.

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via The Weird Button

Adventures in Babysitting, Cooking, and Other Things I Suck at

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I feel vulnerable posting about this, but since that is apparently a word that makes other people feel uncomfortable, I’m damn well going to use it. Because if I’ve learned anything in the last two-ish years, it’s that Judd Apatow is right: “if it makes you uncomfortable, it’s worth talking about.” The discomfort gives way to growth, epiphanies, and can even help others on their own paths.

Sunday night, my sister called me. Could I go to her house and watch her kids? For an hour, maybe two while she was at work. She’s been working a lot, and I heard that sound in her voice, the one that starts with “please.”

“Sure,” I agreed. How could I say no? Yes, I’d been having a rough go of it recently, cancelling on people I love, declining plans that were really important due to self-care necessities, but it was like 120 minutes give or take. And I was doing a little better today than yesterday.

“Thank you!” she exclaimed. “I’ve just been working so much.”
“It’s okay,” I told her, letting her know that like her, my husband/her brother had been working a lot too. You do what you can. As someone who cannot work anymore hours than currently, filling in the gaps while he’s gone has become key. And I wanted to do that for someone else.

“Well, I speak for both of us when I say, ‘You are our rock!’ ”

I chuckled. “Rock is not the word I would use, but okay. For all intents and purposes, I’m going to agree with you.”

Headed over at the allotted time. Was met by little people with their larger than life hugs, between the ages of 7-13. Four of them.

The night started as innocuously as possible. Would I play video games with them? Of course I would! I did not do well, but they were encouraging and tried to make me successful, showing me all the buttons to push to become a Gang Beast worthy of respect. But I’m not skilled, so when my niece took over, their enthusiasm and competition against each other still made it fun. Maybe even moreso.

At some point between showing me buttons and being my cheerleader, the youngest turned to me and asked, “Are you going to make us dinner?” “I guess I could do that!” I said, the person who rarely tries to make herself dinner. “Do you guys like mac and cheese?”

“YEAH!!” she cried.

“Do you HAVE mac and cheese?”

“Yeah, I’ll go get it. I’ll help!” she promised, running from the room.

Different kind than I’m accustomed to with different directions, and they felt very adamant about how to do it. I’m in awe of the confidence that comes with youth, and watching the kids work together was a beautiful machine. I asked them for things I didn’t have that we needed since they knew this landscape better than I. They asked if I could make other food to go with this…this thing that was not an entree but merely a side dish in their eyes.

“Can you make eggs?” the second oldest asked. “I can make eggs.”

I can, but the questions rendered me impotent. The embarrassment and the insecurity boiled up in me even before the pasta was done. They had already taken over the making at this point, deciding they were the experts. And they probably were. But there was a pause where they looked up with me with inquisitive eyes that seemed to be silently saying, We know this. We do this. But you’re over twice our age! How do you not know this? Why do you look so scared? Thankfully, they didn’t say it aloud.

Time unfroze, and I mumbled something that abated them. They didn’t ask for anything else that night.

Where had I gone? Back to my childhood kitchen, following a recipe while an angry, besotted adult screamed “You’re ruining my kitchenware!”–I wasn’t–and “you’re not following the directions!” When I not only had read but had memorized the recipe. When I was doing the best I could with what I had. Just like I always did. Doubting myself. Hating myself. Wanting to escape and feeling relief when I was left alone or was able to disappear.

When my husband called a few minutes later after he had gotten off work, I tried to sound peppy, but I could hear it. That sound. That “please come over and help me, because I’m drowning, and I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing here” sound. He showed up despite his exhaustion. The kids were thrilled, and I suggested they read him a story instead of using him as a gym. After a few loud recitations on their part, I loudly re-iterated from the kitchen where I had absconded to do dishes.

“No, you guys. He’s never heard you read a book to him. Go find a book to read to him!” So instead of shouting at him much in the way oral storytelling happened prior to written word, they took turns reading to him while I did dishes and inwardly chastised myself for being tired when I’d only been there for several hours.

Earlier this summer, my husband and I traveled to see family. I got to met my middle sister’s new husband. I saw that look in his eyes when meeting me, his new sister. The fear of settling into a day with his new, large family in a new place. When he left, I hugged him and thanked him for coming and tried to express non-verbally the sentiment I wanted to say: You and I are going to be friends. You are not alone.

Because I had been there. It was the uncertainty I felt when I first started dating my husband.

I remember sitting in a pew at a church waiting for my then-boyfriend to start singing with his choir. We were a few weeks into dating, and everything was going well, but there in the moment with people I didn’t know in a place I didn’t feel comfortable, I asked myself: What are you doing here? You don’t belong here. You’re an impostor. Everyone’s going to know. You could run out of here right now. You could leave. You could just keep running until you are home.

But I didn’t. I was 25 miles from home. My boyfriend had driven us. He had people here. This was important to him. Even if I did manage to run screaming from this place, I’d have to find a ride back to the city. Once there I would be forced to think about how I was never going to be able to see him again. And I cared about him. I cared about him so much. Because of those things, I stayed. Sometimes that love combined with recounting the current facts is what buoys me when my “you-have-to-survive-and-this-feels-like-danger” gut inside tells me to go. Even if I am still alive, it’s hard to trust yourself when you experience a far reaching lack of conviction.

Once, and now thankfully rarely, my rescue dog mirrored that same scene in her eyes. The “everything is too much, and I am going to implode at any minute” look. The look of trauma. I often wonder why she really chose us, and I wish I could ask her. If she sat on my husband’s foot, because he looked like a man who could weather the storms, or because she saw him with me, the look of uncertainty that plagues me so regularly scrawled across my face and felt at home. Or maybe she thought, “Cool, Dog People here to take me home!” and made her move.

More times than I would like, I have to ask myself about the logistics of this fear and remind myself that this moment is temporary. That the pain will pass. Then it does. But I don’t always succeed and find myself saying or thinking, “Oh man, I don’t know if I can do this,” at least once a day.

But you know what? I spent time with my nieces and nephews. I didn’t fall apart on them, at least not completely. They got fed. They read my husband stories. They even bathed (well, some of them did). Could I have agreed to watch them a year ago, even two or three years before that? More than likely, no.

I remind myself this panic wasn’t built overnight, and it won’t leave overnight either. It will take time, and I’m making a commitment to better this life and those around me by investing time to make it better. To make me better. Even if it means I often find myself connecting even more with the folks who live on the Island of Misfit Toys than ever before.

So while I sat at home with a stress migraine tonight instead of spending time with family, I tried not to beat myself up over it. The absences are going to happen. So I’ll take them and look forward to my next measure of progress. Whenever I can get it, for as long as it will last, until the next one.

Fear and Failure to Flourish

Everyone has their own ingrained system for dealing with emotions. We, while capable of reacting in a multitude of ways, form paths early in our lives that predict and dictate how our later/future selves will respond in times of trouble.

Unfortunately, those behaviors aren’t always the most sophisticated or the wisest choices in how to react. Remember: we learn these during our formative years when our brains and bodies are still coding experiences to save us time later.

The first time I wanted to kill myself, I was eleven.

I had learned about suicide the year before. There had been a death in my family. Decades later, I would learn that a minimum of two people in my family had attempted suicide. And those are just the family I know about. When I was a child, I was exposed to a negative, reoccurring event. It’s taken me several dozen years to get to a place where I can fully acknowledge how toxic that situation was. At the time, my brain and body assessed that I was incapable of dealing with the flood of fear that I was immersed in. In order to survive, my unconscious created a plan.

As an adult human functioning in the real world, this has fucked up my life and created a ripple effect that I’m only just beginning to grasp. But as a frightened child trying to survive, my brain said, “This is how. We’re going to live.”

Which means that when my mind encounters a stressful situation, it switches to auto-pilot and puts on a record that went platinum when I was little. Because it was a proven system to ensure survival.

Let’s use an example: if you have a parent who beats you, you strategize to decrease the likelihood of physical abuse. Maybe they hit you when you wear the color red. So you learn to *not* wear that color, because your life is much easier when you don’t. But ten years later, you see yourself avoiding shopping at Target and refuse to drive, because being exposed to that color is a trigger that sends you back to that fear and now you’re hyperventilating and you don’t know why. Or you know, but you can’t stop it.

The example is absurd, but that is what the brain does.

The past year has been a learning experience for me. I often have to pause and congratulate myself, because my mind adapted initially and the plan succeeded…for that situation at that time.

But now, when I find myself in stressful situations, I respond the same. Several years ago, a co-worker who has anger management problems confronted me (poorly) about something I did that she didn’t like. Within seconds, my heart pounded in my head, my breath hardened, and I felt my attention from her drift to the door. You could run, my fear said. Right now. This qualm is ridiculous and petty. You don’t have to work with someone like that, and you shouldn’t have to. Run out that door right now and never come back. 

Which meant, in addition to being afraid that I hadn’t heard a word of her complaint after she began, because all my energy kicked into the Kevin Space hostage negotiator from the amazing 90’s movie, The Negotiator: “You are at work. You only have a few hours until you can leave. Money is important to not living on the street, and running away from this will mean that this could be your reality.” I have a better understanding of the situation today, but I have a long way to go to undue years of trauma.

While I’m training my brain, I have to limit my exposure to triggers. Which is harder than it sounds. Almost two years ago, I had a rough week. My therapist at the time instructed me emphatically to rest the whole weekend. “Do NOT do any activity that stresses you out, even if it is an errand or chores.” This was a compromise. In return for doing this, she would agree not to hospitalize me. When I told my husband I was essentially on bed rest “against all stressors,” he chuckled and said, “But that’s everything except TV.” I proceeded to spend the entire weekend on the couch sobbing through a TV marathon. At one point, I invited a friend over, and partway through our time together, she had to call for a ride home because I was too upset to take her. And she’s one of my best friends but I could barely talk to her while she was here.

Two winters ago, one of our friends told us a mutual acquaintance had been “hospitalized due to her pregnancy.” It took several minutes for me to realize what was abundantly obvious to all others present during this discussion: she’d been hospitalized for morning sickness and loss of fluids, not as I had interpreted, for a mental breakdown.

So, when you see someone struggling to wade through the tide of everyday life and see their confused, poor reaction as an intelligence issue, consider the alternatives. One of which is that their brain is operating on an original format in an advanced, non-traumatic world.

Sometimes the struggle is a more intense reality than we’re willing to verbally admit.

Sugar Eye, Honey Munch

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Last month, my husband sent me a link to a CNN article “One-month Sugar Detox” with the following, single-sentence introduction: I’m game if you are. 

Let it be known that I’m neither a diet guru nor anyone’s nutritional role model. I can count on one hand the number of attempts I’ve made in my life. The best attempt I had at dieting was 8-9 years ago. My supervisor and gluten-free boss recommended it, and I tried it in the hopes that I would feel better. There wasn’t nearly the same kind of specialty food market that’s out there today, nor was I up to doing much research on the subject. Since I hate cooking/meal prepping and have what I can only describe as weak to zero self-control when it comes to food, I failed hard. I tried a different approach with an app for dieting a couple summers back which ended almost as soon as it started with the words, “Fuck it, I’m eating all the chocolate cake I want,” and I never looked back.

Back in February, I read about the sugar wars in The Atlantichow hard it is to quit the white stuff but how beneficial it can be. I’d mentioned to my husband how I wanted to read it and had stored it in the back of my mind with the billions of other books I’d like to read one day and more or less forgot about it. I’d heard a few people recommend it as a helper for the chronic illness that I have, but in the past it had seemed nearly impossible. I was not up for the task and had not entertained the possibility although when I read the aforementioned article, I was intrigued.

Upon reading my husband’s challenge link, I chuckled to myself. For the first few days, you completely cut yourself off from this substance. The side-effects are also supposed to be terrible. I’d been finding myself in the past year becoming more and more of a garbage mouth. I’d sub the worst food choices in lieu of good ones and not even enjoy them as I should (think Josh Hartnett’s character in 40 Days and Nights). I wanted to lose weight, mostly in my stomach, and I was concerned about getting diabetes.

When my husband arrived home, I agreed on the caveat that we have plenty of food in the house when we start. “I’ll do it with you. I’m not sure I can do it, and it might kill me, but I’ve got to do something. So sure. Why not?”

I’d read another article awhile back that said sugar was more addictive than cocaine or heroin. Eye roll. Yeah, okay.

The first three days, to put it mildly, were uncomfortable. I had an ongoing, throbbing headache, and when I ate all the things that weren’t sugar (meat, vegetables, nuts, and eggs), my body didn’t know what to do. I’d tended to eat more sugar in the afternoons and evenings, and I felt worse during those times. I was used to inhaling all the processed junk, so when I offered and partook of sustenance, I could feel my brain getting confused. “I, um, no. You know what I want. Don’t you have anything GOOD?”

I realized on day two, that it was silly to laugh at the article which spouted the saccharine nectar of the gods as more potent than hard drugs. After all, I’d never tried either of them. But I had tried sugar, and this was not easy. I made a mental note to not ever do those drugs even on the off chance that they were easier. Besides, I still had to get through the week. The same day, my husband turned down free work donuts, so I knew I had to resist while moving ever forward. The good news is that I’m ridiculously low motivation when it comes to hunting or rustling up grub besides what we already have in the house, and I know this about myself, so I decided that I’d continue if for no other reason than I was too weak from the lack of sugar to leave. But mostly it was my husband turning down donuts.

I’m currently in my third week of my diet. I have been cheating here and there, but overall, I’m still doing well. I took a college class and at one point the strictness and unforgiving nature of 12 step sobriety programs was questioned. I believe that by allowing leniency, one can benefit in the longrun, especially from an angle of self-care. Today, for example, I had a strawberry smoothie. However, I found myself recoiling at even its small size that old me would’ve devoured in 5 seconds flat. It’s now only half gone, resting in the fridge to be continued at a later time.

Here’s what I’ve gathered so far:

  • Quitting sugar is challenging
  • Sugar is in more than you think in higher volumes than you think (some websites or articles will even show the amount of processed sugar you consume when you have a beverage or food item)
  • People have unusual reactions when they hear that you’re on a diet
    Most were really supportive, but a couple of people felt very ill at ease. Some were inspired which made me feel good.
  • I lost much of my ability to taste sugar when I was eating so much of it
  • It’s easier to tell which foods/drinks my body straight up does NOT like
    Apparently my body tolerates homemade margaritas better than it does wine. Which honestly, I am okay with but still found surprising.
  • Usually when I cheat by eating/drinking something that’s not on the diet, it’s not always as rewarding I think it’s going to be
    This was especially shocking. I had ice cream the other day and found it TOO sweet! 
  • The number of edible goodies I reward myself with? LOTS! 
    I truly didn’t believe that I was treating myself as much as I was, but when I went on the diet, I realized that I pretty much just let my stomach run the show and my stomach makes really bad decisions when it’s in charge. I also feel much more in charge when I use my self-control on food in a productive way. It can be empowering which I didn’t expect.

I’d like to add that I wouldn’t have been able to get through this without my husband (who at one point made homemade ketchup!) and the fact that I go to acupuncture frequently. I hope to continue this route. Even if I do eventually quit it it’s been a new, interesting journey, and I feel I’ve learned more both about myself and the world.

 

Have you ever gone on a diet? Did it work out well? How did you motivate yourself to stay on track?

 

Cue the Guns’N’Roses song, what’s it called? “Patience”

Hello my fellow Weirdies!

I haven’t been the most faithful blogger in the past, but I feel like guilt is one of the top 3 emotions bloggers experience most often in terms of their work. It is certainly one of mine, so I’m taking this opportunity to explain and also offer a mini-Q&A/AMA.

In the past, I’ve taken breaks with increased frequency. My posts became fewer and far between when I moved back to the Pacific Northwest since the South really harnessed much of my thoughts and homesickness (because writers can be bad at making new friends due to introversion and expectations and aging and PRIORITIES) so I had less fuel to fan the flames since some of it was for far away friends and family. Therefore I also had less motivation when I moved back to make it part of my routine–although I did/do try to update it now and then.

There are other reasons as well. Sometimes I wanted to write but felt intimidated by my past posts or started posts but didn’t have the gumption to finish. Lots of times, my health and/or day job took priority or other duties took precedence. I hate saying that because this blog has from its early stages been very important to me, and it’s like saying I don’t have time for someone who used to be one of my closest friends.

However, I have been working on a writing project that means quite a bit to me. It’s something that has been in the works for awhile now and will CONTINUE to be in the works for the near future. That might be frustrating to hear…I find it frustrating, because those of you who know me well know that I am not good at patience. Consequently, it’s something that has also taken a good deal of my time away from blogging, and I feel that it’s time to let y’all know that even though I’m not here posting everyday, I’m still thinking of you and want to put something out there into the universe in the future that you’d want to read.

My below Q&A from some fans should answer a few of the burning questions you may have at this juncture. If it doesn’t answer your questions, please send me a comment! If I get enough comments or one particular one comes up several times (and/or is inspiring and I want to share it!), I will dedicate a post to it.

What is the writing project??
TBA! I say that, because I’m not 100% sure if it’s going to turn into more than one or what form it’s going to take. I imagine it will be a starship in the shape of a unicorn, but that’s more of a picture…and that’s just me saying random words. Also, that would be really hard to steer! But I promise you…you will know more when I do.

When can we read it?
Hopefully soon. The more I work on it, the sooner that time will be, and the more I will know!

Is it a book about the blog? 
No, although it’s something to keep in mind.

Is it another blog? 
No, but it could turn into that.

Do you need money to get it going? 
Great question! I might when the time comes, and if I do, I will update the blog and let you know!

Do you like saying no? 
Mostly no, although it depends on the circumstances.

How impatient are you? 
Very. Enough so that this is going to be my last question answered for now. Thanks all!

Apple surprise

I took my dog on a walk today. The weather has been great! I was trying to hurry out the door so I could come home and make food not long after, so swiped two baggies from kitchen and stuffed them in my walking purse as I was running out the door with the dog (anytime I refer to bag in this, I mean a plastic bag). Normally, I have more time to inspect them, but the weather has been really touch and go.

When I went to pick up my dog’s poop, I saw that one of the bags had a massive hole in it. I had my apple core in the alternative bag that was in my purse to avoid littering. I could still use it as a cover to pick up the poop and place it in the bag with the core. However, on the off chance that the plastic bag with the core had a slight hole I had missed (the bags are pretty thin which is why I use two just in case), I didn’t want to avoid littering little poos on the sidewalk, and obviously I wasn’t going to stuff both into my walking purse which is made of material. So I put the plastic cover containing poop in the apple-core plastic bag and looked for a garbage can. I was right next to one! How perfect!

The second I placed it in the garbage and closed the lid, I heard, “Really?” The owner of the house with the garbage can was glaring at me with her hands on her hips. Note that she wasn’t close (maybe 7 yards or so), but she did look red with anger.

I didn’t know what to say. I mean, now I was scared of her and didn’t want to explain the situation. So I said the first thing that came to me that was about as sassy as I could handle.

“Do you want me to take it back?”

I looked back at the garbage can and began to open it. I was sure she was going to say yes. If you’re one of the people who’s angry enough to yell at someone for picking up the poop from your yard to throw it away either in your garbage can or elsewhere, then you’re probably capable of all kinds of things.

“Ewwwwwwwww,” I heard her say. “It was in your PURSE! Ewwww.” Then she went back in the house.

Did she think my apple core was poop in the other bag? Or that I’d somehow picked up dog poop with my bare hands (I hadn’t, there was a clear plastic cover to keep me poop-free)? Or maybe she was just disgusted that I was willing to take it back? Lady, it’s trash. Trash is gross. It doesn’t matter if it’s yours or mine. Trash is indefinitely gross. It seemed like she was angry past the point of conversation, and I really didn’t want to stick around long enough to begin a discourse town hall weigh in on feces with the person who was shame yelling at me earlier. I realize that I probably should’ve put it in the one bag with the apple core, but if you’ve ever been walking a dog and realized that the poo is falling out of your bag, well, it’s just a much cleaner situation to get rid of the very thin bag right there. And it was one of those moments where I didn’t want to drop the poop by examining the apple core bag which I’d pulled out of the purse while all the time still holding the leashed dog. It seemed like a lot of things to drop, and I made a snap decision.

Besides, would you rather the dog walker just leave the poop in your yard? It seems much ruder to me, and if I’d been able to explain myself better, maybe she would’ve agreed with me. In fact if I had seen her standing there, I would’ve just carried the poop in the plastic bag OR asked her for a second bag to put the first bag in. Anyway, I guess I’ll never know now. But if you see someone pick up poop and throw the poop IN A BAG away in your garbage can, I suggest you let them. Next time, they’ll leave the poop, or maybe worse, throw it at you. Either way, this is one of the best outcomes you can expect.

Are you going to eat that?

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Hypothetical situation: You are a family member that lives with me, and it’s dinnertime at our house. You do chores around the house and contribute to it maybe more or less than other family members. Maybe you pitch in for food, maybe you can’t for whatever reason, but I’ve been feeding you for years and tonight is a different meal plan. Which of the following is acceptable?
 
A. Not feeding you, because you have food allergies/sensitivities and it’s more expensive to feed you something from a limited diet. I let you know that your food is too expensive for me so I didn’t even look at the supermarket to accommodate you, but you’re happy to buy it yourself while you’re at my house from now on (age is no excuse).
B. Letting you starve, because it’s too expensive to feed you period even though I could afford it.
C. Feeding you, but only the most disgusting mash filled with bi-products and fillers, and oh yeah, you have to buy that from me at an outrageous cost.
D. None of the above
 
Keep in mind in your choice that regardless of what I’m feeding you, I’ll be eating the finest cuisine that you’ll be paying for ME to eat. It doesn’t matter if you’re an elderly relative or a child. I’m feeding you food that I wouldn’t eat myself. In fact, I’d NEVER eat that.
 
Does this situation seem fair? If you were my child in real life, the state would remove you from my custody. If you were a family member over the age of 18, outsiders would call you selfish and cruel and try to intervene on your behalf. I could have made adjustments to our current meals by having a discussion with you and working out a better plan, but instead I’ve been complaining for months and just decided to just revoke the current mealtime plan in its entirety.
 
Why does it make sense that the government whose officials are elected on our behalf, who are supposed to look out for the well-being of citizens, put their needs before ours and make decisions that the majority of us disagree with?

House Sweet House

I’m truly negligent in my blogging abilities, but it feels inadequate to blame it all on low self-esteem as if by doing so I’ll overcome this obstacle and naturally sail from start to finish through all blog entries–or excuse myself from the process of doing so in the first place. I currently have half as many drafts as I do published posts, and WordPress would be wise to make a delete-all button for my drafts so I don’t have to cringe while reading all the words I failed to publish. Maybe this exists and I’m just too tired to look harder for it.

This weekend, I took a time-out from getting our house in order. I feel like King Ralph in his castle, and whenever I meander from room to room, I’m in some Twilight Zone episode of my life where I moved into a hotel yet brought all my own possessions with me. We bought our first house last week, and it still hasn’t fully sunk in.

I was going to write a pre-move-in post about how growing up is odd, terrifying, and occasionally exhilarating, but using the phrase “adulting” makes me shudder, and it seemed unavoidable. Also, surprise! Talking about being anxious breeds more anxiety. Now you get this post instead, which is probably better all around.

There’s a bit of a post-house buying malaise happening to my husband and I right now, which sounds like such a bourgeois predicament, but a similar thing happened during my first year of marriage (although it could have been the whole living in the South on the sun’s surface estranged from close family and friends for the first time ever), so it seems to be the result of closing a stressful chapter in one’s life while trying to determine what comes next. The whole “What do we do now?” shuffling of hands and feet and gazing around as if an answer will drop into our laps. We’re both reticent to start something equally or bigger scale at this juncture. I hope I learned my lesson from that time I got married and moved halfway across the USA at the same time, and since I no longer take Xanax, I’d say I have.

My husband pointed out yesterday that since much of our stuff is still cocooned in cardboard, it makes our daily normal activities irksome. Home ownership was a change we’d planned on making for a long time even if I had more or less given up on it happening during the last few years to save myself the agitation and depression that came with said hope. But we’ve moved 6 times in 7 years. It’s time to stay stationary for awhile.

There’s an overwhelming sense of urgency to complete all chores and home projects, and on Friday I collapsed while my body screeched that I needed to stop and stay in one spot for the remainder of the weekend. I’m not particularly a “do all the things” kind of person since my body balks on a daily basis, so taking time to practice mindfulness and re-familiarize myself with self-care practices seems wise, but I still have to look at all these cardboard boxes. The other component is that there’s only so much money to take on all these projects at a time.

The good news is that we need fewer junk drawer paraphernalia while the house only requires a few more pieces of furniture (and a full-functioning, non-leaking dishwasher which will be delivered later this week).

As we embark on this journey, I find myself turning inward more than to others. I’ve been on a rather isolated path the last year outside of Parker’s company, and to my surprise, it’s less lonely than I imagined it would be. It turns out people and interacting with them brings me less joy and is more taxing than I perceived it was in the past. Part of this is the regular visits to therapy, and the other is the introversion of growing older while living in the same body that experiences chronic illness and pain.

But overall, I’m pleased with this progress we’ve made and am trying my best to take things one step at a time and not get ahead of myself.

What am I doing today? Reading, taking a bath, and folding laundry while catching up on all the TV I’ve missed over the past few weeks while more pressing matters took the lead.

Happy Sunday, all!